By Scott Jones
PRIME RIB IS considered a splurge-worthy treat
any time of the year. This is perhaps no more true
than during the holidays. Yet despite being so
renowned and savored, confusion swirls around
this special cut of beef.
Contrary to its fancy-sounding moniker, not
all prime rib is U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) Prime grade meat. So what’s with the
name? Long before the USDA decided to grade
meat, butchers sold large, 20- to 30-pound beef rib
roasts from the “prime” part of the animal—ribs
six to 12. While all cattle have 13 ribs, in terms of
location, this primo, seven-rib section is considered the 90210 of roasts.
Why all the fuss over a roast, you ask? Think
of it this way: If you were to cut a prime rib into
steaks, you’d basically have a stack of rib eyes—
considered by many steak connoisseurs to be the best
of the best for its mix of tender meat and rich flavor.
When shopping for prime rib, you have two
basic options: bone-in and boneless (bone-in is
available at Costco during the holidays; boneless,
year-round). According to Costco member Aaron
Winters, a Tennessee-based butcher, there’s also
another way to prep your prime rib to get the best
of both worlds. “My favorite way is to remove the
rib bones, then tie them back on. This option gives
you the extra flavor from cooking the roast on the
bone with the ease of being able to remove the
bones after cooking and before slicing.”
Most of us don’t require a full, Fred Flintstone–
size prime rib (let alone have a large enough oven),
so, thankfully, you don’t have to buy a roast with all
seven ribs. At Costco, for example, you’ll find prime
rib roasts cut with as few as two bones. When buy-
ing, it’s best to figure one half to three-quarters of a
pound per person for a boneless prime rib, and 1
pound per person for bone-in.
A tender cut like prime rib is best for the gentle
heat of oven roasting or indirect grilling. For best
results, use a good digital thermometer to reach
your desired level of doneness. Cooking time provides a good ballpark estimate, but only the roast’s
internal temperature is going to tell you whether it’s
really ready or not.
Most cooking directions also call for the meat
to rest for a period after cooking. During this time,
the internal temperature will increase another 5
degrees or so. It’s a good idea to lightly cover the
roast with aluminum foil during resting.
Enjoy this fine holiday classic! C
Scott Jones ( jonesisthirsty.com and jonesishungry.
com) is a food, wine and travel writer.
; Prime rib cozies
up to flavors like garlic,
freshly cracked black
pepper, chopped, fresh
rosemary and chopped,
fresh thyme. Salt and season the roast 30 minutes
to an hour before cooking.
Salt draws moisture to
the surface, which in turn
promotes browning. For
an extra-crisp exterior,
salt the meat a day or two
ahead, then leave the
roast uncovered in the
; Cook a bone-in
prime rib with the bones
facing down, and without
the meat touching the
roasting pan—this allows
the rich “fat cap” to gently baste the roast. Use a
roasting rack for boneless.
; To serve bone-in,
make the first slice
between the ribs and
close to the bone. This
first slice will include the
bone; the next slice will
be boneless. If serving
boneless, cut into ½- to
; Sides to pair with
prime rib include garlic
mashed potatoes, potato
gratin and Yorkshire
pudding (a classic prime
prımer PRIME RIB
The Costco Connection
Costco offers prime rib, and other cuts of meat,
at your local warehouse.
A tender cut like
prime rib is best
for the gentle heat
of oven roasting
or indirect grilling.