Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,
Prime rib is one of the most intimidating hunks of meat a grill master will ever face, capable of making—and breaking—reputations. It’s certainly the most expensive: A 10-pound roast serving eight to ten adults could set you back over $200 at your local supermarket, or over $800 if you opt to serve Wagyu beef from a pricy yup-scale online purveyor. (Not including shipping.)
But when it comes to an eye-popping, show-stopping, unrepentantly carnivorous centerpiece for a holiday dinner or New Year’s Eve feast, there is nothing that can beat this magisterial joint of meat.
As long as it’s properly cooked, of course. The most egregious sin you can commit against prime rib is to overcook it. Do that, and it’s game over.
If you plan on investing in a prime rib now or in the future, here’s what you should know before you whip out your checkbook, credit card, or first born:
Okay, you splurged. What’s next?
First, a bit of knifemanship. If a rack has not been Frenched by the butcher, you’ll want to do it yourself. Frenching is a fancy term for scraping the exposed part of the bones clean of meat, fat, and cartilage before roasting. Come to think of it, perfectionist that you are, Frenching isn’t optional at all. Here’s how you do it:
Next, a bit of bondage. Prime rib has naturally occurring lines of fat that divide the “eye” of the muscle from the spinalis dorsi, commonly known as the cap. Tying the roast with butcher’s string between the bones (bone-in roast) or at 1-1/2-inch intervals (boneless roast) will discourage separation along these natural fault lines as the meat cooks. It will not only be easier to carve, but will make a more professional-looking presentation on the plate.
Next, season the prime rib. There are two approaches—studding and rubbing—each produces excellent results. To stud a prime rib, make small slits in the roast with the tip of a paring knife and fill them with slivers of garlic, sprigs of rosemary or other herbs, pieces of anchovy or cheese, etc.
To rub the roast, you make a dry spice blend of salt, pepper, dried rosemary, and oregano, or a wet paste of salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and olive oil (puree these ingredients in the food processor). Apply these flavorings in a thick layer over the surface of the prime rib. For even more flavor, do both. (Yes, sometimes more is more.)
And now the moment of truth. There are three ways to cook a prime rib on the grill:
Decide whether you want your prime rib rare (120 to 125 degrees), medium-rare (130 to 135 degrees), or medium (140 to 145 degrees), remembering the internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after you’ve removed the meat from the grill.
Finally, let the prime rib rest on a large grooved cutting board, loosely tented with foil, for 15 to 20 minutes. Notice I said loosely tented—really, you just drape a sheet of foil over the prime rib. Do not bunch the foil around the prime rib or you’ll make the crust soggy.
Just before serving, snip the strings. Carve the roast off the bones using a carving knife or electric knife. Run the knife along the curved interior of the ribs. Cut the ribs into individual bones for gnawing. Warning: you’ll have enough meat for eight people, but bones for only four. Figure out ahead of time how you’ll ration them out.
Then cut the meaty part of the roast crosswise against the grain into slices 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Serve at once with any juices that accumulate in the well of the cutting board.
Horseradish sauce is the traditional condiment. Get the electrifying Barbecue! Bible version.
Now you can take your bows.
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Yours in righteous grilling,
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