How to Make a Foolproof Prime Rib
Nothing makes a bigger statement on your holiday or dinner party table than a prime rib. The hero of large-format roasts, you can feed as few as four with a two-rib beauty, or a whole tableful with a seven-rib monster. Slice in thick steakhouse slabs that fill the plate or go British style with thinner slices that fold delicately into swaths of rosy tenderness. So classic that you can take your party old school retro with an herby au jus, some twice-baked potatoes and creamed spinach. So elegant and delicious that a punchy salsa verde and of-the-moment sides make it perfectly modern.
But prime rib can also be a scary roast to attempt if you have never done one before. It is a wildly expensive piece of meat, so you really don’t want to mess it up. Luckily it is also fairly easy to make, as long as you have a meat thermometer.
Buy the meat.
This is one piece of meat you really want to buy from a butcher to ensure quality. And always buy on the bone, which makes for a juicier roast and gives you the bonus of the ribs to gnaw on the next day! Plan on between ¾-1 pound per person when buying bone-in, you know your crowd and their appetites. Ask your butcher for the cut closest to the loin end, where the eye of the loin is larger in relation to the size of the roast, so you are getting more tender meat per slice, so more bang for your buck. Also ask your butcher to remove the roast from the bones, then re-tie it to the rib rack. This gives you the benefit of roasting on the bone but will make carving much easier.
Prep the meat.
Ideally you want to have the roast in-house at least a day or two before you need to cook it. This will allow you to generously salt the meat all over with kosher salt, you should get a nice even coating like a fine layer of snow, and place on a rack over a pan uncovered in the fridge to let the roast absorb the salt and get properly seasoned deep into the meat. By keeping it uncovered, the surface area will dry out a bit, which will help with browning and crisping during cooking.
Bring the roast to room temp.
Letting your meat come to room temperature before cooking helps reduce overall cook time and makes the cook a bit more even. Let the roast rest at room temp for two hours before cooking. If you have a v-shaped roasting rack, set it up in a deep roasting pan, spray it well with nonstick spray, and place the roast bone-side down in the rack. If you don’t have a roasting rack you can also roast on a flat rack over a pan, you just want to have some air movement all around. If you have neither, elevate the roast by making a ring of crumpled tin foil for it to sit upon.
Heat your oven.
You want to set up your oven with the rack in the lower third, and heat to 450 for a minimum of one hour before cooking. This will help you get the best browning on your roast.
Cook the prime rib.
Put your roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes until well-browned all over. Reduce the heat to 350 and continue to roast until a meat thermometer in the center of the roast reads 125 for medium rare. Be sure the thermometer is centered in the roast and not touching bone. Assume you may need as much as 18-20 minutes per pound to finish cooking, but start temping at 12 minutes per pound to see how quickly it is cooking, every roast and oven are different.
Rest the roast.
You want the roast to rest once it comes out of the oven for at least 30 minutes before carving and up to 45. An hour is fine for roasts of over 4 ribs. This will allow the juices to redistribute so that they don’t all flow out when you carve.
Carve and serve.
Cut the twine holding the ribs to the roast and set the ribs aside. Using a sharp carving knife or an electric knife, carve across the grain into serving portions the size you like. Serve with the jus or sauce of your choice.