How to Master Frenching a Rib Roast

Fear not frenching your holiday rib roast. All you need is a sharp knife and some know-how.

How to French a Roast

Let’s get one thing clear: I don’t mean “French” as in kissing. Yeah, it’s been a nutty year, but–please–not that nutty! (Although I’m sure there are some standing rib roast fans out there who’ve considered making out with their perfectly cooked holiday roast.)

I’m referring to the culinary term to French.

Video courtesy of Stauffers of Kissel Hill

What does “to French” mean and why bother?

To French a rib roast, or chops for that matter, means to trim and scrape away the meat, fat, and sinew from the slender end of the ribs so that a section of the bones is exposed. It makes for a more elegant presentation. In days of yore, little frilly caps were slipped over the bones for looks and to protect those with delicate constitutions. Thankfully, they (the caps, not the diners) have slipped from fashion. Frenching the bone also makes for less mess at the table as well as in the kitchen as the bone ends, which heat up to a higher temperature, can burn, causing the fat to sputter and smoke.

What other terms also mean to “French” a rib roast?

“French a bone,” “clean a bone,” “trim a roast,” and “French trimming a roast” are different ways of saying the same thing.

What tools you’ll need

All you’ll need is a sharp boning knife or other narrow, flexible knife. The size and flexibility of the knife makes it easier to get in between and around the bones. A dry kitchen towel or a wad of paper towel helps you hold the meat steady with the other hand.

A boning knife.

How to French a roast

  1. Place the rack on a cutting board with the fatty side up. Grab your boning knife and, starting 2 to 3 inches from the end of the bones, make a long cut lengthwise on top of the rack, using firm pressure to cut through the fat and underlying meat down to the bones.
  2. Remove the knife and carefully slice from the end of the bones inward, following the curve of the bones, until you reach your initial cut. Pull away the strip of meat and fat. Give it to the dog.
  3. Clean meat between the ribs by cutting straight down along one rib, then down the next, and cut across between them.
  4. Using the back of your knife to avoid unnecessarily dulling your blade, scrape off the rest of the meat, fat, and sinew from each rib bone. You want to get right down to the bone.
  5. Using your towel, grab each exposed bone and pull several times, cleaning off any last clinging bits.

Recipes that call for Frenching

Just about any dish that has ribs (ok, not fish) can be Frenched, but these are our most popular–and French-worthy–recipes.

Standing Rib Roast

Pricey but not pretentious, a standing rib roast is essentially a slab of bone-in rib eye steaks standing on end. You could do worse, eh?

Standing Rib Roast with Jus

A sublime yet simple approach to cooking this most impressive roast. Certain to win friends and influence people—not to mention make phenomenal sandwiches the day after.

Tomahawk Chops with Sweet Potato Purée

A rib eye of Flintstonian proportions deserves a side that can stand up to its mammoth beefiness. Sweet potatoes puréed with butter galore do quite nicely.

Garlic and Herb Pork Crown Roast

This Christmas crown roast of pork is brined then rubbed with garlic and herbs then oven-roasted. The center of the crown roast is filled with wild rice.

Portuguese-Style Pork Roast with Clams

Pork and clams, a classic Portuguese combination, are paired with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and a pinch of crushed pepper. For a twist, bone-in pork loin is used.

Roasted Pork Loin

What we consider an ideal roasted pork dinner for fall. Simple. Spectacular. Stunning. Enough said.

Pan Roasted Pork Chops

Perfect. The best brine I've ever had. Oh. My. God. That's just a few of the things we're hearing about this simple weeknight supper solution.

Grilled Rack of Lamb

Intoxicating. Easy. Perfect. Gratifying. That's what folks are saying about this unexpected but uncommonly good grilling recipe that'll elevate any meal to magnificent.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Parsley, Dijon, and Chives

Lamb racks have the perfect ratio of meat to fat to bone, giving them a delicious flavor. They're an easy. hassle-free way to make a meal special.



  1. Good to know, but what’s yummier than that dark, crisp fat from a long roast or the gravy and Yorshire Puddings that can’t be made from lean meat?

    1. I like the way you’re thinking, Rainey, but fear not, a frenched roast should still yield enough of those delicious drippings for gravy or Yorkshire puddings.

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