There’s nothing quite as decadent as prime rib. A crispy, salty exterior and rare, tender interior marbled generously with fat is pure meat heaven. The only thing sinful about prime rib is cooking it wrong, resulting in a flabby or tough roast with little flavor.
The cost of prime rib makes screwing up especially painful. There are a million different recipes for how to cook prime rib in the oven, all very similar and all claiming to be the best method. But those recipes are all wrong. The best method, hands down, is throwing that big expensive hunk of meat on a charcoal grill first then gently roasting it in the oven until prime rib perfection is reached.
If cooking prime rib over a real live fire makes you nervous, relax. Cooking outdoors with the smell of charred beef wafting through the air is about as good as life gets. A charcoal fire gently and perfectly browns the meat in a short amount of time. You get a crispy, browned crust without causing any of the interior meat to overcook; it remains pink all the way through. Plus, grilling gives the meat a subtle smoky flavor you’re going to love.
Once the meat is browned on a charcoal grill (a gas grill isn’t recommended for this recipe), the roast is finished in a low heat oven where it’s easy to control and monitor the temperature. That’s it! Simple, right? The roast that emerges will be legendary – perfectly cooked prime rib that’s crispy, tender, rare, juicy and flavorful.
Time in the Kitchen: About 4 hours, plus 2 hours to bring the meat up to room temperature
- 4 rib standing beef rib roast (about 8 to 10 pounds/3.6 to 4.5 kg)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (10 ml)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (30 g)
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper (5 ml)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed (5 ml)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (30 ml)
Salting the Meat:
There are two approaches to salting the meat:
- Salt 24 hours ahead of time and leave the roast uncovered in the refrigerator, then leave it uncovered at room temperature for 2 hours before cooking.
- Salt 2 hours before cooking and leave the roast uncovered at room temperature.
Salting the meat 24 hours ahead of cooking means the salt will penetrate deeper into the meat, producing a more evenly seasoned roast. Salting only 2 hours ahead will produce a saltier crust that is balanced by less salty meat. Neither method is necessarily better; it’s a matter of personal taste.
Either way, 2 hours before cooking the roast you’ll mix together the melted butter, black pepper, garlic, coriander and rosemary in a small bowl. If you haven’t already rubbed down the roast with salt 24 hours before, then also add the 2 teaspoons of salt to the mixture.
Rub down the roast with the seasoning mixture. Let the roast sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
Prepare the coals for your charcoal grill. Arrange the heated coals so there is a hot side and a cooler side of the grill. Set an oiled rack above the coals and let the rack get hot before putting the roast on the grill.
Over the hottest side of the grill, sear the roast for about 5 minutes per side, until the entire roast is nicely browned. In between turning the roast, keep the lid on the grill.
When the roast is browned, move it to the cooler side of the grill and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes with the lid on. This will give the meat a gentle smoked flavor.
Preheat the oven to 250 ºF (121 ºC).
Put the meat on a roasting pan fat side up and ribs down. You can use a rack in the roasting pan, but don’t have to because the rib bones lift the meat up off the surface of the pan.
As a general rule, roast the meat in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes per pound. However, keep your digital thermometer handy and check it often.
Prime Rib Meat Temperature Guide:
- 120 F to 125 ºF for rare (48 to 51 ºC)
- 125 F to 130 ºF for medium-rare (51 to 54 ºC)
Remember, the meat will continue to cook a little after it’s taken out of the oven, so it’s wise to take the roast out about 5 degrees before it reaches your ideal temperature.
Allow the meat to rest outside of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
This recipe was adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Grill-Roast Prime Rib recipe. According to him, the prime rib can be grilled up to 2 days ahead before roasting it.
This recipe can be adapted for smaller or larger roasts by following these guidelines:
- For a bone-in prime rib, figure 2 servings per rib bone or 1 pound (450 g) per person (you should have leftovers)
- For seasoning, use 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon (a pinch) black pepper per rib bone if you’re seasoning just 2 hours before cooking the roast. If seasoning 24 hours before, double the amount of salt and pepper.
- For the butter, use 1/2 tablespoon (7 g) for every rib bone in the roast