How to Cook Prime Rib

Patrick Mooney
how to cook prime rib

Once you know how to cook prime rib, you'll see that it is an easy-to-make entrée that can feed your whole family with plenty of delicious leftovers.

Prime Example

In my Standing Rib Roast article, I covered the basics of the USDA grading of beef and the difference between the terms "prime" and "primal". Just to give you a quick recap:

  • Prime is the highest grade of beef. It will cost you more to purchase this grade, but, in the end, the extra cost will be worth it when you bite into the tender, juicy, and tasty beef.
  • A primal cut is a basic cut of beef that is then cut down even further into pieces of beef that are easier to cook and serve.

It's easier to picture how large a primal cut is when you think of it like this: each side of a cow or bull can be cut into seven basic primal cuts. Now, consider how large a cow is and think of trying to fit a seventh of that cow into your oven. One would imagine it to be a tight fit, indeed. And, if you could figure out a way to cook that much beef, it would take a very long time to get your dinner cooked properly. So primal cuts provide cookable parts.

How to Cook Prime Rib

Prime rib has a well-deserved reputation for tenderness and flavor. If you are wondering how to cook prime rib, the answer is slowly. If you are wondering how to prepare prime rib, the answer is just a touch more involved. The first thing you want to do is have a nice long talk with your butcher. He or she will be able to help you out by properly trimming and tying the prime rib. Just to be sure that you are getting what you pay for, ask to see the prime rib before the butcher prepares it. It should be clearly stamped with a USDA Prime stamp.

Your butcher will then trim away the excess fat, leaving about an inch of fat on the roast. The fat will melt as the prime rib roasts, making the meat more tender and flavorful. The bones will be cut off the roast and then tightly tied back on. This makes the carving easier but allows the bones to absorb and radiate that heat, helping the prime rib to cook properly.

There are purists who believe that the only seasoning a prime rib needs is salt and pepper. If you want to go with this very basic recipe, I will not try to dissuade you. You can get very good results with just salt and pepper, but I would suggest that you use a very good salt. I only use Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Basic Prime Rib

Feeds 6-8 people

Ingredients

  • 1 3-rib prime rib roast
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Remove the prime rib from the refrigerator at least two hours before you want to cook it. Prime rib cooks best when started at room temperature.
  2. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees (or the highest setting that your oven goes to if it does not go to 500 degrees).
  3. Salt and pepper the prime rib.
  4. Place the prime rib fat side up (bone side down) in a roasting pan.
  5. If you are using a meat thermometer, now is the time to insert it.
  6. Cook the prime rib for 15 minutes at 500 degrees.
  7. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
  8. Cook the prime rib for 13-15 minutes per pound for a rare roast or 17-20 minutes per pound for a medium rare roast.
  9. Test the meat using an instant read thermometer and remove the prime rib when the thermometer reads 120 degrees for rare or 135 for medium rare. Remove the meat thermometer.
  10. Let the roast rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Garlic Crusted Prime Rib

Feeds 6-8 people

Ingredients

  • 1 3-rib prime rib roast
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, mashed or finely diced
  • ½ cup of diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly grated horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons of oregano, chopped if fresh or you can use dried
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup of mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Take the prime rib out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
  2. Grate the horseradish using a microplane or box grater.
  3. Mix the grated horseradish, garlic, oregano, mayonnaise, and flour.
  4. Press the garlic mixture onto all sides of the prime rib.
  5. Roast as for basic prime rib recipe.

Gravy For your Prime Rib

You can use any recipe you like to make a pan gravy from the drippings. This is a good basic recipe:

Ingredients

  • Pan drippings from a prime rib-roasting pan
  • 1-½ cups of beef broth or stock
  • ½ cup of red wine.

Instructions

  1. Pour the drippings out of the roasting pan and into a large cup or bowl.
  2. Using a spoon, remove as much of the fat from the drippings as possible.
  3. Place the pan over a low to medium flame on your stove.
  4. Add the wine to the pan and, as it heats up, use a rubber spatula to scrape off the fond. The fond is the sticky bits that have formed in the pan.
  5. Reduce the wine by half and then add the beef broth or stock.
  6. Add the drippings and any juice that has collected on the plate that you placed the prime rib on.
  7. Reduce the gravy by half and serve with the prime rib.

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How to Cook Prime Rib