One Family’s Holiday Tradition
By Marguerite Cleveland
I am the daughter of an exceptional cook. My mother, Marguerite Daigle’s roots were in Louisiana where culinary excellence is a quality most residents seem to be born with. Although born in the south my Mom honed her craft as a military spouse where she was the Queen of cultural appropriation when it came to food. We grew up eating a variety of food from all over the world. She took the time to learn new dishes whenever she visited exotic places or learned from other military spouses. One thing she served as a special holiday treat was a rib roast also known as prime rib. It was always purchased from the commissary because as she said, “They have the best meat.”
It is a tradition I carry on with my own family now that I am also a military spouse. A rib roast is a wonder to behold, a delectable cut of meat but it comes at a heart wrenching price. At civilian grocery stores prices range from $10 – $13 a pound for a choice rib roast. So for an 8lb roast you are looking at $80 – $104 for the cut of beef. You definitely want to purchase Choice not Select quality; it really does make a difference. For the past few years our local commissary has offered a special each December on Choice Rib Roast for $5.99 a pound. This cuts the price in ½ and I often buy one to freeze. When you spend this much on a cut of meat you expect it to be good and I have always had great luck at the commissary. In all the years my mother and I have made this dish we’ve never purchased one at the commissary that hasn’t been the best quality and tenderness.
Many may not know that your commissary can take special orders at the meat department. Each one seems to have its own rules so check to find out the procedure. I have had good and bad experiences at different bases. Currently it is super easy. I just ring the bell by the meat department and someone will usually come out and just cut my order for me. It also depends on how busy they are. You may have to complete your shopping and come back or put in an order for a later date. When ordering a rib roast don’t make the mistake I did when the butcher asks how many ribs? I thought, well one rib per person which is a lot of meat but I was too embarrassed to say anything. Typically the roasts are purchased in 3 to 4 ribs. A 3 rib roast is about 6 to 7 pounds.
So how do you cook this thing? It’s actually very simple and the less you do to it the better. Two important tips make sure you have a good meat thermometer and make sure you take the roast out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour. Most recipes call for cooking the roast on a higher heat of 450-500 degrees and then lowering to 325 to slow roast. You want to cook the roast until it reaches 120 and then let it rest and the temperature will rise to 130 which is medium rare. I just prep the roast by rubbing it with olive oil and then covering with either coarse sea salt and black pepper or Montreal steak seasoning. Most general cookbooks will have a recipe or check online. I usually search for the best recipe for… and have found great recipes. There are also You-Tube videos so you can see how it should look.
So this holiday season visit the meat department at your local commissary and start your own family tradition.
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.WanderWordsWine.com