Surprise, old dogs can learn new tricks! After 33 years in the diner kitchen, our son Alex showed beyond a doubt that his method of cooking a prime rib is as close to perfect as you'll ever get.

First, the basics: there are eight total quality grades of beef. When you purchase a USDA Prime, you're getting the highest level of marbling recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Then comes Choice beef; that's high quality but has less marbling than Prime. It's still fairly tender, but the less marbling it has, the less juiciness and flavor you get. Those are followed by Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner.

Choose a rib roast that has a bright color with snowy white fat. Stay away from dull-colored meat and yellowish fat. For a great rib roast, look for even fat distribution and a good layer of fat around the ends. This isn't the time to choose a leaner cut. As to how many ribs you should buy, figure an eight-pound, three-rib roast serves about eight people.

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Now comes the fun and easy part, but with some very important protocols. You have to bring your prime rib to room temperature – which will take about three hours – before you cook it. I  promise, it's not unhealthy but it is all-important. Lay the roast rib side down and insert a thermometer into the thickest portion, not touching any bone. However, get a thermometer large enough that you can read from outside the oven window, because you can't open the oven door at anytime during cooking. Hang a note to warn others. This roasting method needs the residual heat, so ovens with cooling fans aren't suitable.

About 30 minutes before roasting, take a couple cups of softened butter and stir in a quarter-cup kosher salt, two tablespoons of pepper and seven cloves minced fresh garlic. Mix it all together, and rub the entire roast with it.

Half an hour before roasting, preheat a clean oven at 500 degrees. Now it's time to do your calculation. Simply multiply on a calculator the exact weight of the roast by five. Round the number to the nearest whole number. The roast is cooked at 500 degrees for exactly that many minutes.

For instance, if the roast weighs 7.65 pounds multiplied by five, and that equals 38.25 minutes, round it off to 38 minutes total. In 38 minutes, shut off the oven and don't open the oven door for two hours. It's like magic: in two hours, take your roast out, slice and enjoy some of the most flavorful and tender prime rib you've ever served.

Have a Happy New Year!

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