There it is, folks. Perched on its own platter, gleaming in the candlelight. The caramelized skin still moist, the aroma hanging in the air like a savory perfume. Yes, it is the star of the holiday dinner table. The Prime Rib. The Primo Supremo. The Grand Poobah of Beef. The ‘I-don’t-care-if-my-car-payment-is-late-take-my-money’ ultimate in beef badassery. Because nothing looks better on a dinner table than a succulent, juicy standing prime rib roast. As your friends and family approach the table, and before a loving family turns into a violent mob over the end pieces, let’s make sure you prepare something worth fighting over.
How to Cook the Perfect Prime Rib
If you’ve even remotely considered pawning your wedding ring to pay for one of the most expensive cuts of beef on the market in order to impress your guests with a prime rib for that prime holiday dinner, you better dig in and read on. These tips and tricks will guarantee a juicy, deeply flavored, mouth-watering, perfect piece o’ beef that will have your guests begging for more.
First, What is a Prime Rib?
The most important thing to know here is why prime rib is such an exclusive (an expensive!) cut of meat. Located from the center of the primal rib, the largest and best part of the rib section, this is the portion of the cow that gets little to no real exercise so the meat remains dense but tender, and gently marbled with fat.
The cow doesn’t really use its back and rub muscled much, ergo, the meat is considered the premium cut portion on the cow and commands prices upwards of $18 dollars per pound. Not a cheap cut to make mistakes on, for sure. A prime rib can also be called a beef rib roast or a standing rib roast. However, don’t confuse prime rib with a ribeye, as they are two completely different cuts of meat.
How to Cook a Prime Rib
Plan for about 6 to 8 ounces of cooked prime rib per person and purchase a prime rib that fits your guest list (even if it does stretch your budget). Because prime rib is so flavorful, it’s not necessary to go overboard with the seasonings, rubs, or marinades. A simple rub made with seasoned salt, pepper, garlic powder, and fresh herbs mixed into a paste with Dijon mustard is perfect. But if you do want to get fancy, then here’s an amazing recipe for bourbon and coffee prime rib and here’s more on meat seasoning.
You can season the meat up to 24 hours before roasting. Simply cover tightly plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until the oven is ready (but also take out of the fridge about an hour before cooking). Do not put the prime rib in until the oven is at the ideal temperature – no skipping the preheating here! For an added flourish, thinly slice garlic and insert into tiny slits in the roast. So aromatic!
Gently place the prime rib in a roasting pan that is only slightly larger than the roast. You want the juices to pool up around the meat as it cooks, not evaporate if the pan is too big. Use a roasting rack for boneless roasts since it will keep the meat more secure as it cooks. Bone-in roasts have automatic roasting racks in them. One side of the meat (either cut) will have more fat on it. Make sure that side is facing up so when the fat melts, it bastes the meat.
There are two basic ways to cook a prime rib and both will yield a juicy and flavorful result. For ‘low and long’, preheat oven to 325 degrees and roast for about 17 to 20 minutes per pound for the first 30 minutes and then uncovered until a meat thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 130 to 140 degrees for a medium rare prime rib and 145 to 144 for a medium prime rib.
Avoid the temptation to open the oven door repeatedly to keep that hot air in! Don’t even talk to us if you cook your prime ribs well or well-done. That’s the equivalent of culinary sacrilege and you might as well serve Big Macs. And for Pete’s sake, do not cover your prime rib or add water to it! It’s (nearly!) perfect just the way it is! Your job is to coax the perfection out of it…
The other very basic but just as effective way to roast a prime rib is to go ‘high and fly’, which means roast at 450 degrees for the first 30 minutes and then 325 degrees at 13 to 15 minutes per pound. Follow the same instructions for taking the internal temp before removing from the oven.
It is critical to let the prime rib ‘rest’ after removing it from the oven. Resting allows the prime rib to cool off enough on the outside so the juices are sealed in. If you cut the prime rib too soon, all the flavorful juices will run out and the meat will immediately look and taste like Uncle Dave’s canvas boat shoes.
How to Carve a Prime Rib
Assuming you have carefully followed the proper protocol for prepping and roasting your prime rib, as in you’ve let it rest appropriately and it’s now easy to handle, it’s time to start carving! If not, then go back to the step that says, ‘let me rest!’
Resting is very nearly more critical than NOT overcooking it, because it allows the juices to be reabsorbed back into the meat. Remember when we said ‘family revolt?’ Dodge this catastrophe as well and let that meat have its time so you can be the hero of the holiday (for once)! Now go check out our tips for how to carve that prime rib!
From all of us here at F.N. Sharp, we wish you the happiest, healthiest, and sharpest of holidays!