What is Prime Rib Roast?

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While people consume beef constantly, besides that old Wendy’s commercial, most people don’t know a lot about it.

Where to find quality beef? How much does it cost? How do you prepare it?

A lot of people couldn’t give you a good answer to any of these questions if their life depended on it. Even the people who think they know something about beef are usually wrong.

So let’s start this by busting a widespread myth.

The term “prime rib” doesn’t actually mean that the roast your eating is “prime grade.” More often than not, you can taste that it’s not.

The word “Prime” is actually an official grade, given by the USDA.

Prime beef, which contains only 8% to 13% fat and comes from young cows accounts for less than 2% of all meat in the United States. That’s why only a few supermarkets proudly display that they sell “prime beef.” and why it’s usually found in fancy hotels and high-end steakhouses.

However, the term has changed over the years. Nowadays, Prime Rib Roast is known more as a style than a government-sanctioned grade.

To help you impress your closest friends, let’s see what is a Prime Rib Roast (AKA Standing Rib Roast) and how to make it like a 5-star restaurant chef.

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What is a Prime Rib Roast?

Let’s start with answering a simple question, what is Prime Rib Roast, actually?

It’s a tender, flavorful, and oftentimes, a quite expensive cut of beef. You may have heard some folks refer to it as Standing Rib Roast. During Christmas, it’s a popular centerpiece on many tables in many households around the country.

The meat is usually a tender piece of beef taken from the primal rib.

A rather juicy layer of fat gives the Prime Rib its power over people’s saliva glands. The longer you leave it in the oven, the juicier it gets.

That’s what makes Prime Rib Roast the perfect dish for a family holiday.

In fact, once people learn what a Prime Rib Roast is, they can never go back to turkey. That’s a scientific fact…

… Okay, not really, but someone should look into it.

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How to Pick a Perfect Prime Rib to Roast

What’s more tiresome than preparing a Prime Rib Roast (or even a Ribeye)? Going out there and shopping for it.

The entire ordeal can easily become confusing, especially if you’re a first-timer. In the US, the same cut of beef goes by several names, and “Prime Rib” is just the most popular one.

Before we continue, we should explain the grading system.

While you often hear about three main grades, there are actually eight beef quality grades. That’s a factoid that you can use to impress someone at a BBQ party someday.

But for now, let’s concentrate on the top three:

  • Prime – The highest grade in the US, produced in limited quantities
  • Choice – Contains less marbling than Prime but more than Select
  • Select – Leaner and less tender than the first two, still high-grade meat

Only around 2% of the meat supply in America comes with a Prime grade. So if you’re determined to find a genuine Prime rib, you should look for a label promoting it. Alternatively, you can simply buy (or order online) a choice rib and prepare it like a pro.

Look for labels that say:

  • Rib Roast
  • Eye of the Rib Roast
  • Standing Rib Roast

All three of these usually mean the same thing. Except, the Eye of the Rib contains no bones.

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How to Season a Prime Rib

Despite its price point, a Prime Rib Roast isn’t that hard to prepare. As a matter of fact, a vast majority of Prime Rib recipes don’t require too much seasoning.

You don’t need to marinate the beef or anything like that. Some of the spices you’ll need to include:

  • Lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh herbs
  • Garlic
  • Mustard

If you really want to add some flavor, here’s what you can do: take the beef, wash it, and cover it with some basic spices a day or two before preparing it. Wrap it up in a plastic wrap, make it tight, and leave it in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

That way, you’ll infuse more flavor into your Prime Rib Roast.

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How to Cook Prime Rib Roast

Now’s the time to prepare the food. What should you do? Panic? Call the whole thing off?

No chance.

First, you need to decide how you want your roast to turn out. Traditionally, the Prime Rib Roast should be medium-rare. There are many techniques you can do that. However, there are also many mistakes you can make to destroy the meal — so watch out for those as well.

The cooking process involves large amounts of heat being applied in short amounts of time at first. That searing process creates the chewy crust on the outside everyone in your family loves so much. Then, the meat needs to be roasted at a low temperature to get the internal part done.

For cooking, you should use a meat thermometer. You’ll need to stick it into the roast itself to measure the temperature. Just make sure that the thermometer isn’t touching the bone, so you can make sure that the reading is correct.

Different temperatures yield different outcomes. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Rare Prime Rib Roast – Around 125 °F
  • Medium-Rare Prime Rib Roast – Up to 135 °F
  • Medium Prime Rib Roast – Between 135 °F and 145 °F
  • Medium-Well Prime Rib Roast – Around 150 °F
  • Well-Done Prime Rib Roast – Up to 160 °F

And keep in mind that once the roast is out of the oven, its temperature will rise by roughly 5 °F.

How much time do you need to wait for your meat to be done? Again, it depends. How many people have you invited to eat? If you’re eating alone, you won’t wait long.

But if you called the whole family, you’ll have to wait a few hours.

Here’s the approximate waiting time:

  • For 2 pounds of ribs, you have to wait up to 25 minutes
  • For 5 pounds of ribs, you have to wait around an hour
  • For 10 pounds you have to wait between 90 and 120 minutes
  • For 15 pounds you have to wait around 3.5 hours

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Eat Responsibly and Enjoy in Moderation

Even though we spent an entire article praising the living heck out of Prime Rib Roast, we still need to put up a little warning sign.

The prime rib is extremely high in fat and calories. A small 3-oz serving of Prime Rib Roast contains almost 25g of fat and over 300 calories. That’s why it should be eaten in moderation.

We know that we’re speaking about the king of holiday flavor, but still, you don’t want to fall into a coma after a Christmas dinner.

Be moderate and you’ll be more than fine.

Have you ever prepared a prime rib roast? If not, when are you planning to? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

Want to take the conversation to social media? Don’t be afraid to click the share button and have your friends learn more about Prime Rib Roast and why they should try it.

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Frederik Nielsen

By Frederik Nielsen

Frederik is a writer and BBQ enthusiast. He leaves no steak unturned in the pursuit of grilled perfection. He currently aspires to become the next Salt Bae.