Updated March 2015: After consuming more prime rib roasts than should be humanly allowed, I’ve streamlined the process to make it even more flavourful while reducing the prep time. Click here for the new updates and videos including how to save money by cutting your own thick-cut ribeye steaks. Get ready to make the perfect prime rib roast and become a Holiday Hero!
Growing up, special occasions were often celebrated at our family’s favourite restaurant. I remember the amazing all-you-eat salad and seafood bar with all the salads (green and pasta) you could dream of. I remember my dad piling up plate after plate of shrimp and oysters. But most of all, I remember the prime rib.
Strange to think a Chinese family would enjoy such a traditional Western meal, but my prairie upbringing has definitely created a love of prime rib roast.
Our family has scattered far and wide from that city we grew up in – you’ll find us on the West Coast to the more food-challenged sub-Saharan Africa. But we’re still the same (even noisier) family that loves to get together to celebrate life, love and family over a great meal.
Now about that prime rib ….
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Being relatively new to the kitchen and grill, there’s few things that intimidate me more than ruining a $100 hunk of prime rib more than serving that expensive hunk of meat to waiting (and hungry) friends and family.
Being the only member of the family left in beef-rearing Alberta, we’re often tasked with smuggling beef on a plane whenever we visit family in Vancouver. After all the effort, it’d be a shame to ruin the glorious cut of beef with the sad fate of an ill-informed cook.
Thus I’ve taken it upon myself to find the best – and easiest – way to serve up this delicious meal.
What Makes a Great Prime Rib Roast?
Admittedly there’s a lot of room for interpretation on what makes for a great prime rib. Thankfully everyone in our family likes our beef medium rare. And since I’m the cook, medium rare it is 🙂
I also love a great crunchy crust. Some will say to remove the fat-cap prior to cooking, but honestly, (shhhh) I love a little crunchy fat. Much of the flavour of the rub is absorbed in the fat and man-o-man is it delicious. Besides – your guests can always cut off the fat if they choose to, but you can’t put it back on after you cut it off.
So …. the trick is to figure out how to get edge-to-edge medium rare meat with a great crust without over-cooking the extremities.
Best Cooking Methods for Prime Rib Roast
There’s more than one way to cook a great prime rib roast and we’ve tried a few.
We’ve tried low-temperature smoking a prime rib on charcoal and wood. When done delicately, the amazing aroma of smoke permeates the entire roast creating something truly special.
We’ve also tried the “Low-and-slow” 200°F oven method with the “Sear-in-the-rear” broiler at the end. Though lacking the smokey profile, it’s another great way to create a perfectly cooked roast and my method of choice when not in my own kitchen.
But my favourite method combines the best of both worlds: ultra-low heat cooking to get to perfect medium rare from edge to edge PLUS a great crust with a hint of smoke.
Combine the control and simplicity of sous vide cooking with a charcoal and wood BBQ-seared finish.
Why it Works
Sous Vide cooking has revolutionized the way we cook our proteins. Its ultimate control of the final cook temp and no-fuss ease makes for perfectly repeatable results. Allowing us to scientifically determine the exact cook-time also makes it perfect for parties: no more worrying about your meal taking too long to cook or late guests. The forgiving nature of sous vide cooking lets us leave it in the water bath ready to sear, cut and serve whenever guests have arrived without worry.
Bonus: cooking sous vide frees up your oven and BBQ for other treats … Like my favourite food group: DESSERT!
What You Need
Besides your roast and spices you’ll need 3 things:
- Sous vide machine
We’ve shared our recommended Sous Vide tools of choice in this article. For big meals, I can’t recommend the Dorkfood DSV enough.
- Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer: Because of the longish cook time, this is essential to remove oxygen and prevent leakage.
- Sear-inducing High Heat: We’ll be sharing the details of our Weber Chimney cooking hack in an upcoming article, but you can finish your roast on pretty much anything that can produce high heat (500°F or higher) including an oven broiler, outdoor fire or gas BBQ.
Special Consideration for Prime Rib Roast Ribs
To really get the best out of you prime rib, the ribs actually benefit from a different cooking time than the rest of the roast. If you’ve ever chewed on a prime rib bone then you know how to avoid the chewy collagen.
When the ribs are slow-cooked for a much longer time than the rest of the roast, that collagen magically transforms into gelatine, creating an amazing rib reminiscent of a braised rib but with more chew – in a good way. Truly something uniquely made possible by sous vide cooking.
The Best Prime Rib Roast Recipe
Video: Here’s the how’s and why’s to get your Prime Rib cooking.
- Beef Ribs Only: 72hrs at 135°F sous vide bath
- Prime Rib Roast: 5-10hrs at 135°F sous vide bath (See footnotes to calculate time based on size/shape)
- BBQ Sear: 30 minutes (15min heat-up time + 15min sear)
- 10 lb Prime Rib Roast (buy the best you can get)
- Prime Rib Spice Rub: You can get by with just salt and pepper, but here’s what we use
- Kosher Salt
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
Prep and Sous Vide Bath:
- Pre-heat sous vide bath to 135°F (medium rare)
- Cut individual ribs from the roast
- Generously coat roast with spices
- Coat ribs with spices (not quite as generously)
- Vacuum seal ribs and roast separately
- Cook ribs in 135°F sous vide bath for 72hrs
- Cook roast in 135°F sous vide bath for calculated time based on size/shape of roast (5–10hrs)
Here’s a video with 5 tips for faster prep and even more flavour:
Sear, Cut and Serve:
Video: Out of the bag and onto the chopping block.
+ 30min before you want to eat, pre-heat your cooking method of choice (coals, gas bbq, oven broiler, rocket etc.)
+ open bags and save the jus/drippings for stock or gravy
+ Use paper towels to dry the surface of the meat
+ Sear every side of your ribs and roast. Ribs take about 1–2min per side. Roast will take 3–6min per side. Flip and move often to prevent flare-ups and burn.
No need to rest the meat: it’s time to slice and serve!!!
There’s few things better than enjoying the company of your family and friends over a great meal. With this no-fail no-fuss recipe, you’ll be on your way to party-perfect prime rib for any occasion.
Would love to talk chop-shop so please hit me up in the comments below.
Here’s to eating well and staying hungry.
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