Few cuts can match the opulent, indulgent feel of a prime rib. The dish is an experience not just for the senses but also the preparation and nuances involved. The perfect combination has just the right amount of crunch on the outside, is moist on the inside, and delivers mouth-watering flavor from the first bite. Whatever the menu, smoked prime rib makes the meal – and everything else on the table is secondary.
Of course, the precise flavor combination isn’t something you’ll get out of a slow cooker. The recipe naturally requires a smoker.
If you envision a day of cooking and waiting for that first taste to show how hard you’ve worked, we have a few tips for getting started.
Consider this the key step of your prep. As a primer, a rib roast is a large cut from the primal rib, consisting of seven bones and marbled, tender muscle.
However, there’s been some confusion as to what “prime” constitutes. Many erroneously assume “prime” is one of the highest qualities out there. We’re here to tell you this: prime for ribs indicates the meat comes from the central portion of the cow, around the spine. Aside from this aspect, prime rib can come in any grade.
Grade can often influence the final flavor. The higher the grade, the more marbling. More marbling also means more flavor and more tenderness, with the right technique. So, to think about flavor overall, seek out USDA Prime quality, followed by Choice, and then Select. For extra tenderness, American Wagyu’s marbling takes taste a step further, described by some as almost buttery in texture.
There’s also debate about whether you should keep the bone in. This is ultimately up to you and your intentions for presenting and serving your smoked prime rib.
Before we get to talking about smoking, the backbone of your smoked prime rib recipe is:
- Seasoning the roast, with a paste or rub you create ahead of time.
- Smoking the roast, slow and at a low temperature based on weight (we’ll go into this more below). This is where your Flame Boss temperature controller and WiFi Thermometer come in handy.
- Letting the roast rest to preserve its interior moisture and get an even tenderer cut.
- Slicing it to your preferences and serving it.
For more specifics:
- Measure the amount of meat you’ll need: Plan for one pound of uncooked prime rib per person, for a meal and some leftovers.
- Plan out your smoking times: If you’re striving for a medium roast smoked prime rib, allot 40 minutes of smoking at 225°F per pound, plus 30 total minutes of rest time. For a more rare roast, plan for 35 minutes per pound at 225°F.
- Compile your tools: Use your preferred smoker or smoker and grill combination, and have foil on hand. To monitor the temperature of the smoker, have your Flame Boss temperature controller ready. The Flame Boss WiFi Thermometer assists with monitoring meat and/or cook temperature.
Prepare Your Roast
After bringing together your supplies:
- Trim away any excess fat – anything hanging off the meat, so that no more than a quarter-inch of fat is on the outside. Doing this places the seasoning closer to the meat, rather than outside a layer of fat. After, pat the meat dry.
- Cut out the bones if you plan to serve your prime rib boneless. Cut along the bones, and they should separate. After, keep the meat together with butcher’s twine.
- Create your rub: The flavor is all up to you. Some keep it simple, with olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper. Others consider the flavor nuances of garlic, thyme, sage, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, and/or mustard and how they interact with the meat’s natural flavor. Whatever your preferences, combine all ingredients ahead of time in a food processor. Then, add your paste or rub to the exterior and anywhere you removed the bones. A wetter consistency is easier for the meat to absorb.
- Think about your wood: Smoking is an art form that’s all about the balance of temperature and taste. Smoking by default brings flavor, but the wood you use influences that. Apple and cherry – the fruit woods – deliver a lighter, sweeter flavor. The next level up, hickory, maple, and oak pack more punch and have the strength for beef.
Get Ready to Cook
With these steps out of the way:
- Start the fire in your smoker. Aim to keep the temperature around 225°F, not exceeding 250°F.
- Once the smoker reaches 225°F, place your rubbed prime rib inside, and start to monitor the temperature with your Flame Boss temperature controller.
- Continue smoking for the amount of time you calculated. Periodically check the meat’s temperature with the Flame Boss WiFi Thermometer: aim for 145°F for medium, 135°F for medium rare, or 125°F for rare.
- Take the roast out of the smoker and cover it with foil. Rest the meat for 30 minutes. During this time, the meat’s temperature rises just slightly, allowing the meat to absorb its juices.
- To serve, remove the foil and any string. Place on a cutting board. Slice the meat to your ideal thickness.