When we think of grilling, we usually think of steaks and ribs. We wanted to harness the smoky environment of the grill for a different purpose: to cook prime rib. But to ensure that this premium cut got the treatment it deserved, we needed to perfect the method.
The last thing you want is an overcooked gray ring surrounding the rosy interior. To prevent this, we decided the roast should spend less time over high heat. With a reduced searing time we still got a browned crust, but it wasn’t enough to start overcooking the meat.
The other problem we encountered was persistent flare-ups from the fat that dripped down through the grate. To minimize this, we had the butcher trim the fat to a mere 1/8-inch thickness.
Although we liked the idea of a boneless roast for easy carving, we knew that the bones would protect the underside of the meat from overbrowning. We bought our prime rib bone-in, removed the bones ourselves and then secured the detached bones onto the roast just for the grill (you can ask a butcher to cut off the bones for you, just be sure to get them back).
Using a grill let us create both flavor and textural contrast between the roast’s exterior and interior. Wood chips gave the outer half-inch of the roast a subtly smoky flavor, further heightening the contrast between layers.
FIRST-CUT BEEF rib roast is also known as prime rib, loin end or small end. This recipe requires a roast with bones — if all you have is a boneless roast, make a false bone from a coil of foil.
GRILL-ROASTED PRIME RIB
By America’s Test Kitchen
- 1 (7-pound) first-cut beef standing rib roast (3 or 4 bones), exterior fat trimmed to 1/8 inch
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 cups wood chips
- 1 (16-by-12-inch) foil roasting pan (if using charcoal)
>> To remove bones: Holding meaty lobe in one hand and sharp boning or chef’s knife in other hand, run knife down length of first bone, following contours as closely as possible, to cut away the meat.
Flip roast so uncut portion faces you. Holding bones back with your hand, cut meat from remaining ribs. Once meat is removed, proceed with seasoning and tying as directed in recipe.
Pat roast dry with paper towels, rub with oil and season with pepper. Spread salt on rimmed baking sheet and press roast into salt to coat evenly on all sides. Place meat back on ribs so bones fit exactly where they were cut; tie meat to bones with 2 lengths of kitchen twine. Refrigerate roast, uncovered, 1 hour, then let sit at room temperature 2 hours.
Soak wood chips in water for 15 minutes; drain. Using large piece of heavy-duty foil, wrap soaked chips in foil packet and cut several vent holes in top.
>> For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent halfway and place disposable pan on 1 side of grill. Light large chimney starter two-thirds filled with charcoal briquettes (4 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over other half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
>> For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain temperature of 325 degrees.)
Oil grate. Place roast on hotter side of grill and cook (covered if using gas) until well browned on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes, turning as needed. (If flare-ups occur, move roast to cooler side of grill until flames die down.)
Transfer roast to second rimmed baking sheet. If using charcoal, remove cooking grate and place wood chip packet on pile of coals; set grate in place. If using gas, place wood chip packet directly on primary burner. Return roast to grill, this time on the cooler side, bone side down, with tips of bones pointed away from fire. Cover (position lid vent over meat if using charcoal) and cook until meat registers 115 to 120 degrees (for rare) or 120 to 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
Transfer roast to carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 20 minutes. Remove twine and bones; slice meat. Serves 6 to 8.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 619 calories, 31 g total fat, 11 g saturated fat, 242 mg cholesterol, 415 mg sodium, 85 g protein, no carbohydrate, fiber or sugar.