Sunday cooking: Take some time to caramelize onions for a rib roast and more

Be sure not to skimp on the cooking time.
Published Sept. 13, 2022

An inside joke among my friends who like to cook is the length of time it takes to caramelize onions. We have encountered dozens of recipes that suggest cooking onions on the stove for about 20 minutes for caramelization. It’s a lie. I usually caramelize onions for an hour at the very least.

I guess we aren’t alone in our joke because I saw a social media post recently joking that now is the time to start caramelizing onions for the holidays. It did inspire me to get cooking. I made a large batch of caramelized onions and used some in a couple of recipes this week, freezing the remainder for future use. They add tons of flavor to a variety of recipes, from French onion soup to one of my favorites, steak, arugula and caramelized onion sandwiches. (I use Chef Ina Garten’s Steak Sandwich recipe from

The onions weren’t my only inspiration this week. I also made a gorgeous prime rib roast for a special-occasion dinner and used the leftovers, including the bones, to make a weekday meal and to stock up on something I use throughout the year: beef stock.

I shopped early on a Sunday morning and asked my local butcher to suggest a good cut of meat for a dinner party. I was thinking of a beef tenderloin but he suggested prime rib. I purchased a 5.9-pound, bone-in rib roast for $73.69. It’s not an inexpensive or routine buy, so I was determined to cook it correctly and to get as much out of it as possible. I usually follow the 1-pound-per-person rule when buying a roast. The butcher tied it up nicely and assured me it would fall off the bone once cooked. He was right.

Being extra careful not to overcook the roast, I kept a close eye on it during cooking. While I like to eat beef rare, most of my guests prefer a medium-rare to medium temperature. Generally, that means cooking the roast for about 15 minutes per pound, or a couple of minutes less for a boneless roast. I also like prime rib for its crunchy coating that adds a lot of flavor in the end. Scoring the meat with diamond shapes and finding a nicely marbled cut of meat helps create that crust.

I followed a recipe from a website called Tip Buzz, which offers tips and videos for how to prepare recipes. It required few ingredients and let the roast be the star of the meal.

After patting it dry with paper towels, I rubbed canola oil and salt and pepper over the entire roast. I put it on a rack in my roasting pan and added some rosemary sprigs to the pan.

One key to the recipe was taking the roast out of the refrigerator almost two hours before cooking to reach room temperature. It’s also important to use an oil in the rub that can withstand high heat because the roast starts off in a 450-degree oven. The only crucial tool required for this recipe is an instant-read meat thermometer. When it hits 135 degrees, I pull the roast out of the oven. That gives me a medium-rare center and slightly more done meat on the ends for guests who wince at too much pink. Always let it rest at least 15 minutes before carving. I served the roast with mashed potatoes, steamed broccolini and dinner rolls.

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After dinner, I took the four bones from the prime rib and set them aside to use for a batch of beef stock that will make many future meals taste just as delicious. It’s possible to buy bones at the grocery store, from the butcher or the freezer section. But I wasn’t going to waste the ones I’d already paid for. So, in the beef broth recipe, I did not add the bones for roasting and, instead, added them to the stock pot with the cooked vegetables. I also used a little leftover meat from the original roast along with some additional stew meat.

Prime Rib Roast

1 boneless prime rib roast (Prime grade recommended)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt

1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground

Fresh sprigs rosemary or thyme, for garnish

Remove the roast from the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, placing the oven rack in the middle position and turning on the convection/forced air (if available).

Pat the meat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture, then score the fat on the outside about ⅛ inch deep using a sharp knife in a diamond pattern, with the cuts spaced an inch or so apart.

Rub the meat on all sides with the oil, followed by the salt and pepper. Place it fat-side up in a roasting pan fitted with a wire rack. Scatter the optional fresh herbs around the roast, reserving some for serving.

Place the meat in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Every 30 to 60 minutes, baste the meat by spooning or bulb-basting the pan juices onto the meat. If the meat gets dark brown before the final 30 minutes, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

When your desired doneness is reached, remove the roast to a carving board and tent with foil. Let it rest undisturbed for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

Slice against the grain to serve.


Caramelized Onions

5 pounds sweet yellow onions

4 to 6 tablespoons butter

1 to 2 teaspoons salt

Slice the onions. In a large Dutch oven, cook the onions, butter and salt on the stovetop on medium heat for 1 to 2 hours, stirring frequently and adjusting the temperature to avoid burning the onions.

Olive oil can be substituted for the butter, depending on personal preference. Also, the onions can be deglazed at the end with wine, beer, stock, cider, sugar or any desired flavor, although they are delicious on their own.

To store onions, portion them into airtight bags or containers and freeze them for up to three months. (I freeze the onions in ice cube trays and add them to a variety of recipes as needed.)

Beef Broth

8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley

6 sprigs fresh thyme or ¾ teaspoon dried thyme

4 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary

2 dried bay leaves

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed

4 pounds beef bones

1 large onion, peel on, quartered

2 large carrots, cut into thirds

2 stalks celery, cut into thirds

2 cups dry red wine

3 tablespoons roasted beef base bouillon (reduced sodium)

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Make an herb bouquet by wrapping the parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie with kitchen twine and set aside.

Arrange meat, beef bones, onion, carrots and celery in an even layer in a heavy roasting pan. Roast, turning every 20 minutes, until the vegetables and the bones are deep brown, about 1 ½ hours.

Transfer the meat, bones and vegetables to a large stockpot and set aside. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan and discard. Place the pan over high heat on the stove. Add wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits; boil until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour all of the liquid into the stockpot. Add beef base bouillon.

Add 7 quarts of cold water to the stockpot, or more if needed to cover bones. Do not add less water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a very gentle simmer. Add the reserved bouquet of herbs. Liquid should just bubble up to surface. Skim the foam from the surface and discard.

Simmer over the lowest possible heat for 3 hours; a skin will form on the surface of the liquid; skim off with a slotted spoon and discard. Repeat as needed. Add water if at any time the level drops below the bones.

You can freeze this broth in containers for up to four months.

Source: Adapted from, using the basics from Martha Stewart’s recipe at