Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prime Rib (New School and Old School)

Jim Arnost wrote and suggested I post a Prime Rib recipe in time for Christmas. I anguished over this as there are a million different ways to cook prime rib. It's a huge piece of meat that without the proper technique, it's all too easy to finish with a perfect crust on the outside and everything on the inside is raw. I decided to go ahead and do the post and I will cover my two favorite ways to cook prime rib. One is New School, using a convection oven to great advantage. The other is Old School, simply using a regular oven. If you want to grill, see my note at the very bottom.

Prime rib is one of my very favorite meals. Absolute nirvana. I make it a lot during the year and it is always on the table for Christmas Day dinner. Christmas Day dinner is always the same. Roasted prime rib with horseradish and au jus. Roasted baked potato (http://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2010/11/roasted-baked-potato.html). And Caesar Salad from scratch (http://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2011/05/caesar-salad-from-scratch-with-homemade.html).

Prime rib at Christmas can be an expensive proposition. If you head to Byerly's and opt for dry-aged, it will set you back $26.99 a pound. If you go to Costco, you will find spectacular USDA Choice prime rib roasts for somewhere between $5.99 and $7.99 a pound. Costco is where I always get my prime rib roasts. There is so much marbling in the Costco roasts that it makes no sense to opt for more expensive roasts. The taste difference between a $26.99 per pound dry-aged roast and $5.99 USDA Choice roast is so small as to be insignificant. Buy the cheaper cut and splurge on an extra special bottle of wine!

Next, your choices will be between bone-in and boneless. In the old days, I always opted for the former. But ever since I got a convection oven, I have gone with the simpler boneless cut. If you opt for bone-in, you'll have to do a little butchering before you cook the roast. You will need to cut the chine bones from the roast and then tie them back together (or have your butcher do that for you). A little bit of a hassle, but not insurmountable. The bone-in cut will have more flavor, but it is not a huge difference, especially if you are convection roasting. To keep things simple, I'm using boneless for both of my recipes.

There are three essential items when I make prime rib. First is the seasoning for the roast. I use Byerly's Dry-Aged Beef Seasoning. It's available at Byerly's, Lunds and online for $7.49 (http://grocery.lundsandbyerlys.com/pd/Lunds-and-Byerlys/Beef-Seasoning-DryAged/2-40-oz/072431007859/). If you don't have it, use an equal blend of Kosher salt, fresh ground cracked pepper, thyme and rosemary. While it's not the same, it will do (the Byerly's seasoning just plain kicks ass). The second essential item is a good horseradish. Don't buy a creamy sauce. Buy real horseradish. And finally, you need a great au jus for dipping the meat in. Everyone in my family is a meat dipper and Johnny's Au Jus is the absolute best.

Finally, you will need a roasting pan with a rack. As this roast cooks, it gives off a lot of fat and you want that fat to drain away. A rack elevates the meat and and ensures that the every single square inch of the prime rib gets roasted. Not just roasted, but actually develops a beautiful, mouth-watering, golden crust. All right, enough discussion. Let's get cooking. These recipes serve 6-8 people (the larger roasts serve more people).


A convection oven greatly speeds up the cooking process and puts a restaurant-quality crust on your prime rib roast. It's the easiest way to cook your prime rib and will deliver perfect results every time you make your roast.

1 boneless prime rib roast, 4-6 pounds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-6 tablespoons Byerly's Dry-Aged Beef Seasoning 

  1. Two hours before cooking, set roast on counter and allow it to come to room temperature.
  2. Thirty minutes prior to the start of cooking, pre-heat oven. Set to Convection Roast (325º).
  3. Liberally coat roast with olive oil. Rub oil over entire surface.
  4. Sprinkle seasoning all over roast until well coated.
  5. Slide roasting pan into oven and cook for 21 minutes per pound. In my oven, this timing yields a finished roast that is medium rare. Your oven cooking times will vary. 
  6. After cooking is done, remove roast from oven and pan and place on cutting board. Tent with foil and let roast rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Slice across the grain and divide among serving plates.


Using a regular oven, this is the way our mothers made prime rib. First, you are going to brown it in a pan on top of your stove then slow cook it in a 200º oven for an extended time. This can be a bit laborious, so make sure you check out the much easier "Prime Rib by Anne Serrane" on the next blog.

1 boneless prime rib roast, 4-6 pounds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-6 tablespoons Byerly's Dry-Aged Beef Seasoning 

  1. Two hours before cooking, set roast on counter and allow it to come to room temperature.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200º.
  3.  Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Sear sides, top and bottom of roast until browned, 8 to 10 minutes total.
  4. Transfer roast, fat side up, to roasting rack and sprinkle Dry-Aged Beef Seasoning generously over roast. 
  5. Roast until meat registers 110 degrees with a meat thermometer, about 3 hours.
  6. Turn off oven; leave roast in oven, opening door as little as possible, until meat registers about 120 degrees for rare or about 125 degrees for medium-rare, 30 to 45 minutes longer. 
  7. Remove roast from oven (leave roast on roasting rack), tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 45 minutes. 
  8. Adjust oven rack about 8 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Remove foil from roast, form into 3-inch ball, and place under roast to elevate fat cap. Broil until top of roast is well browned and crisp, 2 to 8 minutes.
  9. Transfer roast to carving board. Slice across the grain and divide among serving plates.
Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon, Amarone or Barolo

Note on Ovens: Oven cooking times vary substantially. If you want your roast to be precisely the way you like it, use a meat thermometer.

Note on Grilling: If you have a Weber Kettle, you can use the New School recipe. Set up your grill for indirect cooking and keep the roast on the indirect side. Because Weber Kettles create a convection oven effect, the recipe will turn out identical as long as you maintain that 325º temperature.

Note on 3rd Method, "REALLY OLD SCHOOL". Check this out: http://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2011/12/prime-rib-really-old-school.html


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