Prime rib is one of my favorite meats to grill or smoke for a special occasion. I have fond memories of my father preparing prime rib for our Christmas dinner. It has become a tradition for my family, too. He set the bar high, and the meat was always wonderful. Years later I watched Steven Raichlen cook a prime rib on a rotisserie and I knew I needed to try his method.
Of course, its expense makes prime rib an intimidating cut of meat to prepare. Naturally, you don’t want to ruin it! But Steven’s method ensures it will “wow” your guests. And it’s relatively easy, too.
Simply set up the rotisserie attachment on your kettle or gas grill and add a few wood chunks to create smoke. Roast the prime rib at 400 degrees. The high heat of the fire creates a crispy exterior and the wood imparts a smoky aroma, one you just can’t get when cooking the meat in the oven. The inside of the roast comes out perfectly cooked, tender, and juicy.
Start with the best meat you can afford. I received a 4-bone 12-pound upper prime Black Angus prime rib roast from the Holy Grail Steak Company. Most prime ribs are not graded “prime” by the USDA. (In fact, despite their name, many are graded “choice.” Prime is an outdated term referring to a standing rib roast and has nothing to do with the grade or the marbling of the beef. This “Prime” rib was a cut above the ones I have cooked in the past. In other words, it was prime prime rib!
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When cooking this indulgent cut of meat, I discovered two things are key: 1) controlling the temperature of the grill; and 2) using a reliable wireless meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of the meat itself.
Winter holidays in New England are usually chilly. When it is cold and windy it can be difficult to keep the temperature of the grill or smoker consistent. A windy day can cause charcoal to burn faster and create temperature spikes. A trusty wireless thermometer allows you to monitor both the grill and meat temperature without having to open the lid of the grill repeatedly. Opening the lid will create fluctuations in the grill temperature and can lead to uneven cooking.
Rotisserie Prime Rib
I began my HGS prime rib project by trimming off a little bit of fat. I also scored the outside of the prime rib to create a crosshatch pattern. Scoring helps to release fat and helps create a crispy exterior. I then brushed the prime rib with olive oil and generously seasoned it with coarsely and freshly ground black peppercorns and kosher salt.
I removed the prime rib from the refrigerator and let it sit for about 45 minutes before cooking. (I left it on a sheet pan covered with plastic wrap). Putting a cold prime rib on a hot rotisserie would probably burn on the outside before the inside finished cooking. Bringing the temperature of a large cut of meat up before cooking promotes even cooking.
I set up my kettle grill for indirect grilling. I placed a foil drip pan between the coal baskets, then attached the rotisserie ring and the rotisserie motor. If you do not have a rotisserie, set up your grill for indirect grilling.
Once the grill reached 400 degrees, I added wood chunks to the coals and positioned the rotisserie spit with the prime rib over the rotisserie ring. I started basting the meat with red wine after 30 minutes of cooking. I continued to baste the meat every 30 to. 40 minutes until the prime rib reached an internal temperature of 135 degrees. Total cooking time for the prime rib was 2 hours and 30 minutes for medium-rare.
I took the meat off the grill and removed the prongs and the spit. I then lightly covered the meat with foil to rest for 25 minutes. Don’t skip the resting step or you’ll leave precious meat juices on the cutting board. Once the meat rested, I sliced off the bones to serve as ribs. I then sliced the prime rib into 1/4 inch slices. I even saw a subtle smoke ring.
The combination of high heat from the rotisserie and the salt and pepper rub created a crusty and flavorful exterior. The inside was tender and juicy due to the marbling of the prime rib. The whole kitchen had a smoky aroma as the meat rested. The perfect bite was the mix of crispy exterior and tender meat. I served the prime rib with chive-mashed potatoes, smoke-roasted carrots topped with a sage brown butter, and caramelized onion beef gravy.
If you are looking to create a front row moment (and a new holiday tradition) for your family for the holidays, try a prime rib from Holy Grail Steak.
Prime Rib Recipes
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