Temperature Tips for the Perfect Christmas Prime Rib Roast
Have you ever eaten $30 slice of Prime Rib at a high-end restaurant? Have you marveled at how the savory bark on the outside contrasted with the tender perfectly pink end-to-end interior meat? Well, now you can have that experience at home. Don’t be intimidated by the cost. Perfect Prime Rib is all about careful temperature control and we’ve got you covered. Don’t be surprised if your guests this year tell you they’ve never had a better cut of meat!
You can do this. Here’s what to do…
Preparing the Prime Rib Roast
Pull the rib roast out of the fridge and let temper on the counter for three hours. USDA guidelines requires food not be held above 33°F (1°C) for more than 4 hours. A three-hour rest on the counter is well within time constraints. We pulled our roast out of the fridge at 33°F (1°C), and after 3 hours, found the temperature had warmed to between 43-45°F (6-7°C) from one end to the other.
While some recipes suggest letting your meat come “to” room temperature (70°F [21°C]), famed meat man, Bruce Aidells suggests letting your meat sit out “at” room temperature. Even though the meat will probably not warm up to room temp, it’s still very important to let it sit at room temp. He says, “The interior may only warm up to 50°F…but the meat will cook more evenly and the cooking time will be shorter.”
When the roast is good and tempered, massage with a light coating of olive oil. Add herbs, coarse kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. We tied the roast with butcher’s twine to hold the meat together in a tight, uniform shape. This will aid in even cooking.
Searing the Prime Rib Roast – Achieving the Desired Browning
We chose to pre-sear the roast prior to putting it in the oven. Searing first allows us to achieve the desired browning on the surface without overcooking. If we were to sear after cooking we would risk overcooking a quarter to half an inch of the meat closest to the surface leaving a thin layer of gray meat. While this doesn’t completely ruin the roast, it does not achieve the goal of edge-to-edge even coloration and doneness.
Preheat a roasting pan or skillet over the oven burners and add a dribble of olive oil. Wait until the oil is just ready to start smoking or the pan reads 500°F (260°C) on an infrared meat thermometer. Very carefully place the roast in the pan. Sear the meat on all sides, including the ends.
When you’ve achieved your desired coloration, remove the roast and, if using the roasting pan for the sear, wipe the excess oil from the roasting pan to prepare it for the oven.
Cooking the Prime Rib
Insert your Pro-Series® oven probe into the center of the roast. For larger pieces of meat, it may be difficult to find the exact center. An easy way to estimate the center is to line up the probe over the meat with the tip of the probe at the center of the cut. Grasp the probe where it meets the surface of the meat with your fingertips. Insert the probe into the center until your fingers touch the meat surface. That’s as close to the center of the roast as you’re going to get!
Using the ChefAlarm, set the high alarm to sound when you’ve reached your desired temperature. Cooking to medium rare requires a finish internal temp of 130-135°F (54-57°C). We set our high alarm to sound at 125°F (52°C) in anticipation of a 5° temperature increase during the resting period. For more chef recommended temps see our Recommended Temperature Guide.
Place the roast on the middle rack in the oven set to 200°F (93°C). While this temperature may seem low, consider we’ve already achieved browning on the surface when we pre-seared; all we have to do now is slowly cook the meat until we reached our desired temperature. Roughly 125-130°F (49-54°C) for a perfect medium rare.
Upping the temp now and roasting at a 350-400°F (177-204°C) will leave you with overcooked meat near the surface resulting in that unsightly gray band we’re working so hard to avoid.
When the alarm sounds at 125°F (52°C), remove the roast and spot check temperatures in various locations. The Thermapen® is ideal for this process because it gives you super-fast temperature readings that are spot-on accurate. Insert the probe into multiple locations moving the probe slowly from the bottom to the surface until you see that temperatures are relatively uniform throughout.
Resting the Prime Rib – Achieving Your Desired Finish Temperature
Tent the roast with aluminum foil and allow the rest for 20 minutes. As we said before, the residual heat will move from the surface of the meat to the center resulting in a 5 to 8° temperature increase. Pulling the roast out of the oven at 125°F (52°C) will result in a perfectly cooked 130-135°F (54-57°C) medium rare when we’re ready to carve.
Although we’re not cooking by time, we recognize that it’s important to know how long the process takes so you can let your dinner guests know when to arrive. Anticipate roasting 3 to 4 hours when cooking to medium rare—depending on the size of the roast.
Watch our full prime rib “how to” video here!