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The Best Prime Rib Ever


From the questions we’ve been fielding, it appears many of you plan on serving prime rib (also known as standing rib roast) as your centerpiece meat this holiday season.

Let’s be honest: prime rib is one of the most expensive meats you’ll buy. At a local market, it was selling for $11.99 a pound, meaning a whole 7-bone roast weighing from 14 to 20 pounds could lighten your wallet by $175 or more. No wonder you suffer a twinge of anxiety every time you open the refrigerator door.

Though intimidating when raw, the sight awes when properly cooked: smoke-bronzed bones rising from a pepper-flecked crust, with the meat sufficiently sanguine to thrill any carnivore.

Highfalutin enough to impress the Downton Abbey crowd (untold generations of Englishmen have called it roast beef), but primitive enough to give you a caveman rush from gnawing the meat off the delectable rib bones. Unfortunately, there won’t be enough bones to go around as each bone represents two servings. One of life’s injustices.

You could, of course, purchase a boneless rib roast, but why leave those glorious bones behind? Take them off yourself, if you desire a boneless roast, leaving plenty of meat on the bones. Then smoke the ribs at a future grill session. (They’ll be the best beef bones of your life.)

There are many ways to cook prime rib. I know, as I’ve tried them all: reverse-searing; smoking; indirect grilled in a salt crust; etc. (Do not let anyone, no matter how well-intentioned, talk you into cooking this beautiful hunk of meat in a slow cooker or InstaPot—cringe-worthy methods making the rounds on internet pin-up boards.)

For my money, the best way to achieve a crusty, sizzling exterior and perfect medium-rare meat is to cook it on a rotisserie, aka, spit roasting. As a cooking method, it’s monastically simple. Rub the roast with olive oil. Make a series of slits in the meat with a paring knife, then slip small pieces of sliced garlic and rosemary sprigs in the holes. Season generously with coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Using butcher’s string, tie the roast at intervals to keep the collar from separating.

Steven Raichlen with Rotisserie Prime Rib

Slide the first rotisserie fork down the spit, prongs facing inward. Run the spit through the center of the roast. Attach the second fork and center the roast on the spit. Tighten the screws on the spit using the tines of a table fork. Heat your grill to medium (about 400 degrees). Insert the end of the spit into the motor as per the manufacturer’s instructions and turn on the motor. Adjust the counterweights, if necessary, to ensure the prime rib doesn’t wobble. Slip a disposable drip pan under the roast to capture the drippings.

Grill until the interior of the meat is done to your liking—125 to 130 degrees is the sweet spot for most folks. Take temperature readings on an instant-read thermometer after the first hour. Do not overcook the roast. If anyone in your party likes their meat well-done, serve them an endpiece.

Stop the motor, and using heavy duty grill gloves, carefully transfer the roast on its spit to a large cutting board, preferably one with a deep well to collect the juices. Remove the spit (again, carefully, as it will be hot) and the butcher’s string. Carve. Serve, if desired, with Horseradish Cream. The recipe for the prime rib can be found here.

Rotisserie Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream

Rotisserie Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream

Get the Recipe »

This is just one of the many recipes students will learn to prepare at Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue University this coming June at the Montage Palmetto Bluff resort in Bluffton, South Carolina. For details, click here.


Other Delicious Recipes for the Holidays

What are your plans for the holidays? Tell us about it in the comments or by sharing it with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or the Barbecue Board.