Today is April Fools' Day.
But today's answer to a reader's recipe request just in time for her Easter dinner feast plans is no joking matter and I was happy to help.
Reader Cynthia Bertagnolli of Munster is a fan of the succulent carved primed rib served at Chicago's famed Lawry's Prime Rib House and is seeking their secret recipe.
"Philip, first I would like to tell you how much I enjoy reading your columns. especially how you share stories of your family with your recipe connections. I had saved a recipe you once wrote about years ago, for Lawry's restaurant for their prime rib recipe. Unfortunately, I am not the best on the computer and where I saved your story and recipe, it has now disappeared. If you still have it, would you mind sharing it with me and other readers once again? I have made it several times and it was the best! Looking forward to hearing from you and hope everything is well with you and your family. Thank you. Cynthia Bertagnolli"
Thank you for the letter Cynthia and I'm happy to help. And you are correct, this recipe is not one that was included in any of my three published cookbooks.
Lawry's The Prime Rib, on 100 E. Ontario St. in Chicago, bills itself as serving "the world's finest roasted prime ribs of beef," which results in diners with high expectations.
But since they've been making prime rib for more than 75 years, beginning in Beverly Hills and followed by restaurants in not only Chicago, but also Dallas and Las Vegas, they've developed their own style and preparation technique.
"It starts with the cut of meat and we only use Midwest, corn-fed beef, aged for 21 days to what we call a heightened tenderness before it's then slow roasted on a bed of rock salt," Lawry's Executive Chef Victor Newgren once told me.
"When guests arrive, they know what to expect."
The Lawry's signature approach to serving includes not just their nationally sold seasoning salts, but claim-to-fame "standing rib roasts" that are hand-carved to order and served tableside from Lawry's rolling silver carts.
Located in the historic 1890's McCormick Mansion on the Magnificent Mile, dining at Lawry's is like stepping back in time.
Today, I've not only included the recipe for the prime rib, as prepared by Lawry's, but also their delicious creamy horseradish sauce for topping each carved slice.
Lawry's Famous Prime Rib Roast
1 (4 rib) standing rib roast
Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 bag (5-pound) rock salt
DIRECTIONS: Sprinkle fatty cap of roast with Lawry's Seasoned Salt. Spread rock salt evenly over bottom of heavy roasting pan; place wire roasting rack on top of salt. Place the roast on the rack, fatty side up. Make sure no salt actually touches the beef. Insert meat thermometer in thickest part of meat, making sure it does not touch a bone. Roast in preheated 350-degree oven until thermometer registers 130 degrees for rare, 140 degrees for medium, or approximately 20 to 25 minutes per pound. Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes before carving. Using a sharp carving knife, slice meat across the grain for serving. Discard rock salt. Makes 8 servings.
Lawry's Whipped Cream Horseradish
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, well drained, or 4 tablespoons finely grated fresh horseradish root
Dash of Tabasco sauce
DIRECTIONS: Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in Lawry's Seasoned Salt, horseradish and Tabasco until well mixed. Makes 6 servings.