Sunday Dinner and Roast Beef

In my family, growing up, Sunday dinner usually meant a trip to the local Chinese restaurant where our family of five would sit down to a meal of the then usual stuff: wonton soup, egg rolls, chow mein and of course a more esoteric dish from “Column B,” maybe Moo Goo Gai Pan or Wor Shu Opp. 

Anyone of a certain age will know what I’m talking about. You youngsters born after the days when General Tsao’s Chicken has become old hat probably never heard of some of those. 

But I digress. 

The fact is, we didn’t have homemade Sunday dinner.

But my husband Ed’s family did, as I learned when we became engaged. My mother-in-law frequently made rib roast on that day.

I had never tasted rib roast! My mother didn’t like it, complaining that it was “wet” and the only time I saw some was on those rare occasions when we would go to some lovely American restaurant that had celery and carrot sticks on the table when you sat down. The amuse-bouche of its day. My father always ordered the rib roast because he loved it.

I’m reading a book called “Home” by Marilynne Robinson and just finished a part where the family is eating Sunday dinner and Roast Beef is on the menu. It brought back such wonderful memories of Sunday dinner with the Feins and how delicious my mother-in-law’s beef roast tasted!

She taught me how to make it, thinking, this is what Sunday dinner is all about and I should know how to do it, which I did for many years.

And I taught my daughters too. But they never make roast beef and I rarely do now either, saving the special dish for when my cousins Leslie and Neil come at New Years and maybe once over the summer. 

It’s a pity though. We do eat differently these days. Still, those were some wonderful and celebratory dinners. “Home” brought it back to me. Good memories. Good days.

There must be some people out there who would still love a delicious roast for Sunday dinner. Or for company dinner on some Saturday night. It’s terribly old fashioned but oh, so good.

For you, here’s my mother-in-law’s recipe. I’ve given instructions on how to carve the raw meat off the bone and tie it back on. Meat tastes best when you cook it with a bone, but you can carve it more easily if it’s boneless. With this method, after the roast is cooked you snip the strings, the meat part comes off the bone and you now have a boneless roast. Serve the bones separately.

Pearl Fein’s Standing Rib Roast

1 2-3 rib beef roast

kitchen string

1 tablespoon paprika

1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Carve the meat from the bones as close to the bone as possible so that you are left with a round beef roast and L-shaped bones. Tie the meat back onto the bones with kitchen string. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder plus enough water to form a paste. Brush the paste on all the meat and bone surfaces. Place the roast bone side down in a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and cook for about 15 minutes per pound or until it is cooked to the doneness you like. Use a meat thermometer (place it in the middle of the meat) and remove the meat from the oven when it reaches 115 degrees F for rare and 130 F for medium. Let the roast rest for 15-20 minutes before you carve it (the temperature will rise a bit during that time). Snip the strings and place the now-boneless roast on a carving board to slice. Makes 4-8 servings