We started smoking a prime rib for Christmas dinner a few years ago, and it has turned out to be the greatest thing I have ever cooked on a smoker, hands down. But it is an expensive chunk of meat, so you don’t want to mess it up. Here’s a how-to tutorial to make it simple.
What you’ll need:
Prime Rib (you can get a boneless or standing rib roast, your choice, just make sure you get the best quality piece that is available, without an overly thick fatcap)
Meat Thermometer (you need an electronic probe type that measures the internal temperature of the meat and diplays it on a monitor outside of the cooker)
Old WoodFire Grill’s KK’s 10 BBQ Rub
Cracked Black Pepper (or for a little extra kick use Montreal Steak Seasoning)
Lump Charcoal (optional)
Oak, Hickory, Pecan, Apple, or Cherry wood for smoke flavor
Smoker (can be offset style, vertical style, Big Green Egg, even a Weber Kettle)
Now the How-to Part:
Select the best piece of prime rib that your butcher or meat department has available, one without too much fat. You can get a standing rib roast or boneless. If you get the standing rib roast, I would have the butcher trim the rib bones off the main portion and then reattach them with butcher’s twine. That way you can present the Smoked Prime Rib at the table as a standing rib roast, then easily detach the rib section for carving (the ribs are good to eat too!). Here is a pic of a good quality boneless prime rib.
Now, coat the outside of the Prime Rib with olive oil and season with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, or your favorite seasoning combo. Personally, I prefer Montreal Steak seasoning. I would avoid seasonings that have a high sugar content. For this cook I used Old WoodFire Grill’s KK’s 10 BBQ Rub and some Montreal Steak Seasoning.
Next you need to build your fire. I usually cook my Smoked Prime Rib on my offset smoker, using red oak for the fire. But you can use any type cooker that you like. If you’re using charcoal for the fire, I would suggest using lump charcoal, and a few chunks of wood for the smoke flavor. In my opinion, the best woods to use would be oak, hickory, pecan, apple or cherry, with oak having a huge lead in the race. The key here is to get your temp up to 225-250 degrees. If you are using a Weber Kettle Grill, I would suggest building your fire by banking your charcoal on one side, and placing a water pan under the grate where the Prime Rib will be placed. Also, when you place the lid on the Weber Kettle Grill once the cook begins, be sure to situate the vent over top of the meat to draw the smoke over the Prime Rib. No matter which cooker you are using, you want to maintain a 225-250 degree fire.
While your fire is getting going, insert the meat thermometer into the center of the Prime Rib. I would suggest letting the Prime Rib sit out on the counter during this time, to let it warm up closer to room temperature. Once you are ready to cook, put the Prime Rib on your cooker and close the lid. Monitor the temperature of the cooker and the meat closely. Now don’t flip out if the cooker goes to 275 or even 300, but I would use 300 as the barrier, don’t let it get any hotter. Conversely I would’nt cook any cooler than 215. The goal is to try and have the heat evened out before you put the meat on, as well as the smoke. You want a very light, white or even blue stream of smoke. It doesn’t take alot. You want to cook the Prime Rib to an internal temperature of 120 degrees.
Once you have reached this temp, pull it off the cooker and place it in a pan, and fashion a foil tent over the Prime Rib with aluminum foil, so that it doesn’t cover the meat tightly, but creates a space that it can continue to slowly cook while it rests. 125 degrees is considered rare, 135 degrees medium and 145 well. Let it sit covered for 30 minutes, and it will rise to around 125-130 degrees. If you have guests that like varying degrees of doneness, you can simply place the slices to be more done in the oven on 250 degrees for a few minutes to get it to their liking. The point is this-this is a high dollar piece of meat. You can undercook it and just add heat to get it more cooked, but you can’t take the doneness away. And it’s not like a steak, where you can cook each individual one to everyone’s preference. So, cook it to rare, slice it, and warm the individual pieces accordingly.