Skip to main content

Prime Rib Roast: How to buy and cook a perfect roast for beginners and pros

Written By | Dec 19, 2018

WASHINGTON:  Whether you are creating a first Christmas Dinner or have just never cooked a prime rib, it is really one of the easiest dishes to make.  And the Whos in Whoville know that a perfect roasted prime rib of beef makes any holiday meal special. However, the cost and fear of roasting a prime rib scare many a home chef away.

But they should not shy away.  Prime rib requires little preparation, really you only need a few simple tips to create the perfect prime rib roast that will have your family and guests in awe of your culinary expertise.

Following are step-by-step instructions, tips, and warnings for creating the perfect Prime Rib Roast meal for your holiday table.

Why Prime Rib

Prime Rib is the most tender piece of beef because it consists of the rib and the tenderloin, located on the ribs closest to the back of the cow, where a lack of muscle allows the beef to be extra tender and flavorful. If you have a local butcher that is the best place to buy your roast.  Rely on the butcher’s expertise as to size and fat to meat ratio.




However, if you don’t have a good butcher you can usually find a roast in the meat department of the local grocery store.

Tips to remember when buying:
  • Plan on one rib per every two guests, unless you are feeding big eaters.
  • Between each rib is meat. If you remove the rib bone (keep reading) you can slice the meat far easier and it will go a little farther. But don’t throw those bones out.  With a boning knife, slice that ultra tasty and tender meat from between the ribs.
  • Look for fresh cuts of meat with a bright red color and that is soft, but firm to the touch. Smell the roast – it should smell clean and a bit sweet without any smell of deterioration.
  • The blood that comes from it should be red in color and not brown.
Prime Rib Roast, Recipe, Christmas Dinner

Image by Mary Moran

  • The red should be well marbled with white, not gray, streaks of fat and there should be a layer of fat on the outside of the roast. You can ask your butcher to tie a thin layer of fat over the outside of the roast.
  • Also, ask for the smaller end of the Rib for a better proportion of fat to meat ratio.
Tips before you start cooking:
  • Be sure your oven is very clean before setting it at 500 degrees F. The high heat will cause smoking of old food which could set off smoke alarms and impact your Prime Rib’s flavor.
  • The high levels of fat in prime rib can spatter in cooking and, with the electric coils, start on fire. A caution learned through experience.

You may want to use a smoker or grill which will require a dedicated assistant to maintain the heat if you have an electric stove.

Red or White: The best 2018 Christmas Wine Guide
Prime Rib, Christmas Dinner, Prime Rib Roast

Instant Read thermometer – Image Sur La Table http://www.surlatable.com/

Preparing your Prime Rib for roasting
  1. Removing the roast from the refrigerator, while still very cold, take a very sharp knife and cut along the underside of the rib bones, separating the bones from the roast.
  2. Rub in your seasonings and here less is more. Our favorite is a paste of salt, white pepper (not black peppercorn as it is too robust for the delicate meat), horseradish and whole grain mustard that is massaged into the meat while it reaches room temperature but stays very cool in the center
  3. Using culinary twine, tie the ribs back onto the roast. This technique helps to ensure more even cooking. If buying from a butcher, or if you have a helpful butcher at your meat counter, you can ask them to do this for you.
    Easy last-minute Christmas cookies and praline recipe
  4. Practice good food preparation and keep the prime rib roast covered and away from other foods while it warms to room temperature. An even, room temperature for the roast will help control an even roast. This step could take an hour or more, depending on the size of your roast.  If the roast warms too quickly, wrap it in foil and set it back in the refrigerator, taking it out 30 minutes before your start time.
  5. Place the prime rib roast in a pan large enough to hold it comfortably, bone-side down on a roasting rack. Preheat the over to 500 degrees with the oven rack on the second-lowest level – but with plenty of room between the top of the roast and the oven top (see above warning about electric stoves).
  6. Preheat your oven to 500. Roast the meat at 500 for 30 minutes. Without removing the meat from the oven or even opening the door, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and roast for another 30 minutes. Finally, increase the temperature to 450 degrees F and roast for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the meat is 125 degrees F. (Be sure the thermometer is exactly in the center of the roast.)

The total cooking time will be between 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 hours for a seven to eight-pound roast.

Perfectly roasted prime rib by Chef Mary Prime Rib Roast, Recipe, Christmas Dinner

Perfectly roasted prime rib by Chef Mary

Ingredients

1 (3-rib) standing prime rib roast (7 to 8 pounds – feeds 4-6 medium eaters)
A tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper

Dukes Mayonnaise

4 tablespoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon fresh horseradish

1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise (recommended: Dukes)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Easy Method Instructions

Two hours before roasting remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (see note). Roast the meat at 500 for 30 minutes. Without removing the meat from the oven, or opening the door, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and roast for another 30 minutes.

Finally, increase the temperature to 450 degrees F and roast for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the meat is 125 degrees F. The roast will continue cooking up to 10-15 degrees while resting. You do not want to cook until ‘done’ to allow for this..

Tip: Be sure the thermometer is exactly in the center of the roast. Do not leave instant-read thermometer in the meat with the door closed. It will melt.

Remove the roast from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil and allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes. If you have tied the bones on, remove those and save for later (the best flavored meat is between the bones). Carve and serve with horseradish sauce.




Safety Tip: Fires in the kitchen can be extinguished with a small fire extinguisher, or if you want to save your roast, have boxes of baking soda on hand to smother any fires. If you think your roast is on fire do not open the door; first turn off the heat and using pot lids, cover the stovetop burners to reduce any fresh oxygen getting into the stove.

Once there are no visible flames through the door window, with an extinguisher and baking soda at the ready, carefully open the oven door first making sure the heat is turned off before opening.

Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award-winning writer and wanderer. She turns her thoughts to an eclectic mix of stories - from politics to sports. Restless by nature and anxious to experience new things, both in the real world and online, Jacquie mostly shares travel and culinary highlights, introduces readers to the chefs and creative people she meets and shares the tips, life and travel information people want to read.