Although ‘Ribeye Roast’ might be the correct name of this delightful cut of meat, many people (including myself) call it Prime Rib. ‘Prime’ generally refers to a ‘grade’ of meat not a particular cut, nonetheless we consider this prime eating!
There are so many questions regarding cooking this particular cut of beef that I thought I would do a re-cap on the various methods and my opinion on each of them.
Remember – these are my opinions and truth be told, there is no one perfect way to cook a rib roast.
Let’s talk type of roasts:
Bone in: These roasts do not have the bones separated from the meat. When carving you will have to cut the ribs away and then carve the roast. The bones serve as the rack and add a lot of flavor but it does add to the time carving the roast.
Bone on – re-tied: These roasts have the bone separated and retied to the roast. The Bones act as the rack for roasting and adds a lot of flavor. Snip the strings and set the bones aside – carve the roast as if it were boneless. In comparing prices remember you are paying the same amount per pound for those bones as you are for the roast.
Boneless : This roast must be cooked on a rack. Expect to pay more per pound as you are not paying for the bones. This cut lends itself to slow roasting very well. Be careful not to overcook, removing the bones decreases the cooking time substantially.
Small end vs Large end: A whole 7 bone roast encompasses both small end and large end. The Large end, is well,obviously larger – more meat and more fat per bone. Remember, fat is flavor, so don’t diss the large end. It might also come at a slightly less cost. The small end of the rib roast is more meat per pound, is a bit denser and has less fat therefore less waste.
I do suggest buying a well marbled ‘Choice’ grade rib roast. (Prime grade would be wonderful but you might have to take out a second mortgage!)
What defines a good recipe from a bad one comes down to one thing.
What is ‘Medium Rare’? In other words, internal temperature.
The biggest issue with many recipes for rib roast posted is the recommended final internal temperature. The most common error I see is cooking the roast to a final temperature of 145 for medium rare. Remember, the roast MUST rest prior to carving and it will continue to cook while resting. It will increase in temperature 5 – 10 degrees, if you remove the roast at 145 it will continue to cook and end up around 155 which is medium well. Take a look at the chart below and plan accordingly.
The Big Debate – What is Medium Rare?
120° – 125° Rare – Center is bright red, pinkish towards the exterior portion
130° – 135° Medium Rare – Center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior
140° – 145° Medium – Center is light pink, outer portion is brown
150° – 155° Medium Well – Not pink
160° & above – Well – meat is uniformly brown throughout and probably dry.
Somethings to consider when choosing the perfect method for your Rib Roast:
- Bring the roast to room temperature – depending on the size of the roast this can take either an hour or as long as 2 hours for a very large roast. Use your own judgment here. Putting a cold roast into a hot oven will lead to an over cooked outside and a cold middle.
- Your roasting pan should have about a 3″ lip – preferably not non stick. If your rib roast is bone in – there is no need for a rack – the bones are the rack. If cooking a boneless roast, use a roasting rack to elevate the roast from the bottom of the pan.
- If you are cooking 2 roasts in the same pan – calculate time based on each individual roast. Make sure the roasts are not touching each other. Test the internal temp of both roasts – one may cook faster than the other. (ie: if cooking two five pound roasts calculate the time for a five pound roast – just check the temperature of both roasts)
- Do not trim off the fat from the top of the roast – the fat bastes the meat.
- Use a thermometer – it is the only sure way to know if your roast is done. Minutes per pound should only be used as a guide to help with planning.
- Allow 20 -30 minutes of resting time before carving. Gently tent the meat with foil while making the gravy and finishing up the rest of the menu.
- Remember that the internal temperature of the meat will continue to rise 5 -10 degrees while resting.
- Have your serving platter warm. This way the meat stays warm and the plate doesn’t suck the heat from your meat.
How to decide how big of a roast you need:
- When ordering your roast it is less confusing to order a certain number of ribs – not just weight. I learned this lesson the hard way. I ordered a large roast by the pound and I got a really tall large end roast that was only 3 bones long. Not what I expected at all and it was very difficult to carve into enough servings.
- Know that there are 7 ribs per rib roast. – For a bone-in roast- expect each rib to be two adult servings. For a boneless roast expect 1/2 – 3/4 pound per person.
- I make plenty of side dishes so people will be less inclined to eat a pound of beef.
- I suggest buying at least 3 ribs for best results.
Select the cooking method that works best for you and calculate ABOUT how many minutes per pound to determine how long it will take to cook, rely on your thermometer, not time.
What happens if your roast is done before you are ready?
Holding a fully cooked Prime Rib
Let’s say your roast gets done too soon. (It’s been known to happen) Rather than serve cold or over cooked meat – here is what I do.
- Remove roast from oven – turn off the oven and crack the door for 15 minutes. Return roast to oven and close the door. The roast will rest and still be tender, moist and ready to carve. Large roasts can be held for up to 2 hours this way.
What is the perfect roasting method for your roast?
Click on any blue link to see the actual recipes.
Prime Rib Roast – Classic method ♥♥♥♥♥
Although I like my Prime Rib rare to medium rare there always seem to be a few people who prefer medium to medium well. This method satisfies all tastes. The meat is cooked so that the center is medium rare and the ends will be more done for those who prefer their beef medium to medium well. A good thermometer is essential for any roast and I recommend getting a probe thermometer with an external display. Starting at 450° sear the roast then reduce the oven temperature to 325° When calculating estimated time, allow 15 – 17 minutes per pound.
Backwards Prime Rib. Personal recipe from Ken in CA
I have done this method (different seasonings) numerous times with great results. It is a nice slow roast method (225°) resulting in an evenly cooked roast. The entire roast will be cooked to the same degree, end to end which makes it a perfect method if everyone likes their meat cooked to the same degree of doneness. If cooked to 120 – then returned to a hot oven to finish – then rest before carving, the entire roast will be rosy rare, end to end. This method is similar to the slow roast method that many restaurants use. Although a restaurant would cook several full rib roasts cooked to different internal temperatures. The recipe should state that you should plan on 25 – 30 minutes per pound. Check the temperature periodically about an hour before you expect it to be done. It is essential that you bring your roast to room temperature when using this method. The recipe states to slow roast to 120° then oven sear at 500°- this will give you a medium rare roast – watch your thermometer and adjust accordingly.
Slow Roast Reverse Sear Method: ♥♥♥♥♥
The method for Backwards Prime Rib is very similar to the method that Fine Cooking recommends, which they refer to as the ‘Reverse Sear’ method. This will work great with a bone-in Rib Roast but is absolutely perfect for Boneless Ribeye Roasts.
- Bring the roast out to warm up, season well.
- Into a 300° oven until internal temperature is 115° For a 5 – 6 lb roast about 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove from oven and tent for up to 2 hours.
- Heat oven to 475° – return roast to oven and sear for about 10 minutes or until internal temperature is 130° for medium rare. If the roast had rested between roasting and searing there is no need for additional rest time. If not, allow to rest for 15 – 20 minutes.
Allrecipes.com Cast-Iron Skillet Prime Rib and Gravy
A cast iron skillet makes for a great stove top to oven roasting pan for a small rib roast. This recipe has you searing the roast stove top and roasting at 275. I disagree with the instruction, cook to “130 degrees F (54 degrees C) for rare, about 2 more hours.” If you cook this to 130 and then let rest you will not have a ‘rare’ roast. After roasting and resting a final temperature of 130 – 135 is medium rare. I like the slow roast method but I should have seared the top fat cap longer than I did. It didn’t have that crispy ‘crust’ that I like so much. Also, I didn’t use wine in the gravy because we have a couple of people who don’t care for the taste of red wine.
Allrecipes.com Garlic Prime Rib
This recipe calls for a 10 lb roast – starting at 500 degrees for 20 minutes and then lowering to 325. When starting a roast at 500° be prepared for smoke! Turn on the fans and open the windows. Make sure you are starting with a clean oven. This recipe recommends cooking to 135° for medium rare and then let it rest. Your roast will continue to cook and end up closer to 145° – which is Medium Well. It also says to rest for 10 -15 minutes. A 10 lb roast needs to rest for about 30 minutes for the juices to reabsorb.
AllRecipes Fool Proof Rib Roast
This recipe has you turning your oven on and off and although this might work fine. (This is very much like Paula Deen’s recipe.) There are a lot of variables that are not accounted for. I personally don’t do my roasts this way – it also has you cooking to 145 and then resting – again – you will have a medium well roast. Personally I wouldn’t use this method as my oven fans vent to cool the oven and the oven doesn’t retain heat like gas or older electric ovens.
Allrecipes Restaurant Style Prime Rib
This recipe has you cooking the roast at 425 for the entire 4 1/2 hours. I do NOT recommend you do this. Although it is called restaurant style – I don’t know of a restaurant that would cook at such a high temp for the entire time. Most restaurants that specialize in Prime Rib have dedicated slow roast ovens. Also – there is no need to use flour – Prime Rib forms its own tasty crust and if you line your pan with foil you won’t have the tasty pan drippings for gravy. To give this recipe credit though it does have the correct internal temps for rare, medium – rare etc….
Kosher Salt Encrusted Prime Rib
This roast is cooked at a very low temp of 210. It is essential that you bring your roast to room temp. prior to cooking. Packing salt on the bottom of the pan prevents you from using any pan drippings – that stated, cooking at such a low temperature there will not be a lot of pan drippings. This has an excellent presentation. Here again the recipe states to cook to 145 – but doesn’t state that this will result in a medium -well roast.
Chef John’s Perfect Prime Rib
This method has you starting at 500° for a set number of minutes (be prepared for smoke and start with a really clean oven) and then turning off your oven and leaving the oven door closed for 2 hours.
I do not recommend this method for large roasts. A 5 pound roast at 500 for 25 minutes then leaving the oven door shut for 2 hours works great. A 10 lb roast for 50 minutes will have you smoked out of the house and the neighbors might be calling the fire department. This is very similar to a method published by MelindaLee.com and works incredibly well IF you have an oven that does not vent quickly. My electric oven has fans that come on and vent the oven very quickly, there is not enough residual heat to use this method successfully.
This recipe was featured the December 2013 AllRecipes magazine and it also has a video that goes with it. I have a couple of problems with this recipe / method.
- In the video Chef John states to allow the roast to come to room temperature for 6 hours. I do not recommend leaving raw meat at room temperature for that long, in my opinion, it is not safe.
- As written the recipe states to bring the 4 lb roast to room temperature for 4 hours – again, in my opinion, even with a very large roast that is too long.
- In the AllRecipes magazine it states that Chef John recommends 6 hours but they and the USDA recommend a maximum of 2 hours.
- If you use this method you do not have to allow the roast to rest prior to carving.
So there is my Prime Rib (Rib Eye Roast) primer.
It can all seem a little complicated but it really doesn’t have to be. Whatever method you select to use I implore you to make sure you have a good meat thermometer. As stated above, I really like the probe thermometers with the external digital display, they are $20. or less and well worth the investment.
*Due to the high volume of traffic on the site on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day it is best to ask your questions in the comments section below.
I will do my best to help to answer your questions.