A succulent, tender and flavorful Prime Rib Roast will make your dinner guests feel extra special. There's nothing better than a slow-roasted Prime Rib that is beautifully marbled, hand-trimmed and perfectly aged. Particularly if the Prime Rib Roast is certified USDA Prime.
Choosing The Right Prime Rib.
Most people think that the word "Prime" in Prime Rib means it is USDA Prime Grade. But unless the USDA preceeds the designation, it is not certified USDA Prime. The word "Prime" by itself only describes the most desirable part of the "rib section" of the beef regardless of the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) Grade.
The top grades of beef are USDA Prime, USDA Choice and USDA Select with Prime being the most superior. Click here to see how the USDA grades beef.
There is only a limited supply of USDA Prime Beef on the market and it is generally reserved for the finest upscale restaurants or sold directly to consumers via express shipping. Generally you will not find USDA Prime cuts of beef in typical supermarkets.
If you really want to impress your quests with mouth-watering Prime Rib, visit the Stock Yards of Chicago and consider purchasing the best USDA Prime, Prime Rib Roast available. Just as you'll find in the finest restaurants in America, Stock Yards USDA Prime Rib is beautifully marbled, hand-trimmed and perfectly aged.
Stock Yards USDA Prime Rib is extremely tender and is presented with the very best center-cut five rib bones that has the richest, beefy flavor. Once you taste the Stock Yards delicious and juicy rib roast, you will fully understand there is a difference between just Prime Rib and USDA Prime, Prime Rib.
The whole prime rib includes ribs 6 through 12, and can be divided into smaller sections depending on the needs of the customer. A prime rib has a "small" end and a "large" end. The large end, nearest the shoulder, is less fatty and a bit less tender than the small end but has good flavor.
Preparing a Prime Rib Roast For the Smoker
A prime rib can be seasoned with a complex mix of spices, or with only salt and pepper as this one was. I used kosher salt, and opted to use white pepper instead of black, only for the reason that it wouldn't be visible on the finished roast. Be generous with seasonings on a prime rib. When served, it's only the seasoned outer edge of the slice that flavors the entire piece.
To get more flavor into the meat, the ribs can be partially cut away from the roast, which allows the meat to be seasoned under the rib bones. After seasoning, the bones need to be tied back snugly against the meat with butcher's twine. The bones add great flavor to the prime rib, and prevent it from drying as it cooks.
After the prime rib roast is seasoned, cover it loosely with foil or plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature to warm up for about an hour. By doing this, the meat will cook much more evenly that it would if it went into the smoker cold. Now is a good time to start up the smoker.
Smoking Prime Rib- Set Up the Smoker
Choose An Appropriate Smoke Wood
Given the cost of this meat, the last thing you want to do is ruin it by using a smoke wood that's too strong or by applying too much smoke. I recommend that you use a mild fruit wood, and that you use it sparingly.
Chose modest-sized chunks of apple and cherry, two each, which I did not soak in water before use. The dry wood provided a quick but effective burst of smoke during the relatively short cooking time of this roast.
Fire The Cooker
Fire-up the cooker using the Standard Method--one full chimney of hot Kingsford charcoal briquettes in the charcoal bowl, followed by another full chimney of unlit Kingsford, allowing all coals to become fully lit before cooking.
If you have two chimneys, you can fill and fire both simultaneously.
Foil The Water Pan
Cover the inside and outside of the water pan with wide, heavy duty aluminum foil. Place the pan inside the cooker, but leave it empty.
Smoke The Prime Rib
When all the coals are covered with gray ash, assemble the cooker and place the roast bone-side down on the top grate. Insert a probe thermometer in the center of the roast to monitor the internal meat temperature during cooking.
Set the three bottom vents to 100% open. Open the top vent fully and leave it that way throughout the entire cook. Add the smoke wood to the hot coals.
The cooker temperature will start out at 400-450°F, but should ramp down to 350-360°F after the addition of the meat. If it's a cool, breezy day, you may need to keep the bottom vents wide open to achieve 350°F measured at the lid. If it's a calm, warm day, you may need to partially close the bottom vents to bring the cooker down to about 350°F.
Cook at 350°F to 5-10° below the final internal temperature you want to achieve. Residual heat in the meat will cause the internal temp to rise 5-10°F during a 30 minute rest after cooking.
I like my prime rib somewhere between medium-rare and medium--pink, but not bloody--so I picked 125°F as the internal temperature at which I would remove the roast from the cooker. After a 30 minute rest, I would expect it to reach a final internal temperature of 130-135°F. Going much beyond 135°F risks overcooking the roast, so be careful if you do.
If you want rare prime rib with some medium-rare and medium meat on the ends, remove the roast from the cooker at 115°F so it will reach a final temperature of 120-125°F after that 30 minute rest.
Estimated cooking time is 20-28 minutes per pound, depending on factors such as the size of the roast, how hot the cooker is running, what type of fuel is used, and weather conditions, but my experience has been 19-23 minutes per pound with roasts like this one.
There's no need to turn or baste the roast during the cooking process.
Rest The Meat
Place the roast on a rimmed baking pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest 30 minutes before slicing. This allows the meat to finish cooking and for the juices to redistribute and stabilized within the roast.
Alternatively, you can hold the roast at serving temperature for up to an hour by wrapping it tightly with two layers of foil and placing it in an empty ice chest.
Carve And Serve
Smoking Prime Rib- When Is It Done?
Prime rib is done when the internal temperature tells you it's done. Use a remote thermometer so you don't have to open up the smoker to check the temp. Each time the smoker is opened, the cooking time is extended by 10 to 20 minutes.
Remove the rib bones* and cut the roast into half-inch thick slices. Serve with a salad, baked potatoes, and a variety of grilled veggies. Make sure there's crusty bread for soaking up the meat juices left in the bottom of the plate.
*Some would say that munching on the rib bones is the best part of smoking prime rib!
One last thing, as the smoking prime rib nears completion in the smoker, put together some horseradish sauce for dipping. It's easy to make. Simply combine 1/4 mayonnaise with 2 to 3 teaspoons of spicy horseradish and squeeze of lemon juice. Make the sauce at least 30 minutes beforehand so the flavors have time to meld together.