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Dec 26, 2011 09:06 AM

Prime Rib Roast Successes and Disasters....

It's the day after Christmas 2011, and I'm reading about the disasters, both the less than desired and failed results to the expensive roast they purchased for the Holiday Dinner....The prelude to every holiday always has requests for recipes and methods to roast this cherished cut of meat and make it impressive and unforgettable ....the usual members on Home Cooking (like myself) give their preferred methods of preparation and roasting methods....There are usually three camps of wisdom:

1. The low and slow approach.....140-250* for however long it takes

2. Moderate heat of 325-350* .....usually takes about 90-180 minutes depending on size and weight.

3. High Heat of 450-500*....for up to an hour at first, shut off the temp and do not open the door for a period of time....again depending on size and weight.

Now I understand everyone has their different tastes and levels of temperature acceptability...Opinions have often tried to figure out why each poster who recommends an alternative to theirs does so. The only reason I can come up with, like others have opined, is simply that is all they know and how it's always been done in their family. They believe there is no other way.

The problem though is the disasters are unforgettable for the wrong reasons...they either did not like the taste or the finished result.... over-cooked meat which is dry and tough, as opposed to moist and tender. It's obvious to me to give yourself the best chance to make a great roast, you should embrace the low and slow approach which eliminates the possibility of over cooking unless you are passed out for more than two hours of your target temperature.

To those who will not embrace low and slow, what's holding you back?

To those who do embrace low and slow, your thoughts...again please, to try and convince these others from potentially making another disaster..


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  1. I guess what held me back from the low and slow this year, was last year I did low and slow and everyone was upset at the doneness of the meat. It was too rare. The main problem was the meat thermometer was reading 130 last year, but when I pulled it out is was only 120 with my instant read. We thought it would carry over enough but it didn't so everyone didn't like how rare it was, the crowd likes a light pink. But i'll tell you what, even though it was a little under, at least you can fix it, if it over cooks you are screwed, like happened to me this year.

    So this year they wanted to do the 450f for 15 mins then 325f, but they wanted it medium, not medium rare. I had a probe in the meat set to alarm at 130F and i thought it would carry to 140. When the probe said 130 i pulled it out and tested it in a new area as I was worried that the temp may be off from the probe touching a brace in the top of the oven like it was last year. When I tested it with a good instant read it was on ly at 121 in the center. I let it go anther 30 mins and poked it again and now it was reading 135F. I let it rest for 40 mins and it went all the way to 150-155 around the center. It was gray all the way.
    I will go back to the slow and low method as at least it won't carry over 15-20 degrees like it did from a 325 Oven.
    Do you guys prefer the blow torch method or the cook it low, let it rest, then put it back in 500F until it browns up, then carve? Also, cooking at 200F, can i cook it to 130 then cover it and expect it to be about 135 after resting. I think that will be about right for medium won't it..

    11 Replies
    1. re: Swamibob

      First, you need to know the premise of low and slow method is that it mimics the dry aging process and breaks down the meat so it can become tender. With that said, there is a difference in the overall tenderness of meat when comparing meat cooked to medium-rare with low and slow, as opposed to moderate or high. For me it's more enjoyable with the former than the latter. You can tell the difference by simply when you slice the meat or when it's on the plate with a knife and fork, or fork alone.

      Your previous experience with low and slow was caused by inaccurate readings at different points or stages. Also, the carry over less than expected with the low temperature used. Your results this year with the higher temperature roast caused you heat control issues and carry over temperature.....the outer meat was hotter, which caused greater increase in holdover temperature rising. With low and slow @ 225, I expect and increase of 5-7* at most. With 200*, I would expect no more than 3*. With the higher 325, that was quite a spike even I would not have anticipated.

      Pretty much everything can be explained on the low and slow approach in the following threads, with slight variations by individual posters.:

      This thread will provide you with information and test results I did with cheaper cuts of meat that I had successes and failures using 220* as a test temperature and Chuck Roast.

      I think if you use 220-250* as your roasting temperature...based on the details you have provided and with your families should pull on the higher side of the meat temperature scale for medium rare and the low side for medium.....i.e., 128-132.....expecting a rise in temperature for holdover cooking to be 7-10 .

      For my medium-rare roasts, I roast at 225* for 4.5-5.5 hours and pull at 118-122*, rest covered for an hour, place back into the oven for 20-30 minutes at 250* and finish with a high heat blast at 500*+ for 8-12 minutes. I find this method produces a dark outer ring or crust, and a nice consistent bright pink color in the eye throughout the entire roast.

      Having served a lot of Prime Rib over the years both commercially and at home, people's conception on the actual finished temperature of medium is vastly different, especially when colors are considered. Based on your details, I would recommend a range of 135 -140.....but please do not go above 140....As you have can cook up, but not down.

      Thanks for participating in the discussion.

      1. re: fourunder

        Thanks for inviting me to the discussion. I think everyone participating in the discussion is on a quest for the perfect piece of meat.

        So your idea for me will be to roast at 225 until 128-132 but then what? Let it rest an hour like you do and do the 250 for 20 mins, then 500+ to sear it? it seems like that may take it too high for me, Also with your method of turning it up after the 20-30 mins at 250, do you take it out of the over and let it get to 500+ before you do the final sear, and then at that point to you give it another rest period since it has cooked at 250 again and then 500 or is another rest period not necessary?

        I do like the idea of how you do your's, and it is a little different from any I have read, if it's not a real bloody med-rare when you are done. I think that is what turns everyone off and that is why they want it medium because they don't want the pool of blood on the platter.

        Thanks again for any ideas and information.

        1. re: Swamibob

          first, ultimately it depends on the size of your roast and whether it includes bones or not. Anything under 3 ribs, I consider a large steak and treat it as such. I also like to err on the safe side, so please take that into account.

          If you want to serve as quickly as possible,

          * when you reach your target temperature, remove your roast and raise your oven to 450-500* for about 5 minutes to raise the temperature of the oven.

          * Place your roast back into the oven to brown for 8-15 minutes, the time determined by the size and shape...flat as opposed to a higher more rounded shape.

          * .Remove your roast and cover for at least 20 minutes, but 30 is better.. this is the resting period which allows the juice to redistribute throughout the roast.

          * You are ready to slice and serve. Bleeding should be minimal.
          So your idea for me will be to roast at 225 ....

          This method you remove the roast when it hits the target temperature, cover and rest for 60 minutes. The next step is to warm the roast back up to serving temperature, it is not a second cooking intended to cook up the meat anymore, it is what I call the warm up phase. The previous resting period of one hour usually increases 5*+ , called the carry over effect. For a small 3-4 rib roast, I would pull out the roast for a few minutes while readying the 500* high heat blast. Put the roast back in for 8-12-15 minutes, again determined by size and shape. I would not remove a 5-7 rib roast while readying for the high heat blast. Remove from the oven and you are ready to slice. There is no need for a second resting period. You could slice immediately or soon after without any serious drop in meat temperature.

          I have probably made a half dozen large Prime Rib Roasts since Thanksgiving 2010 using the guidelines I have just described. In the past, I used to rest only for 30 minutes, after hitting the target temperature and the final high heat blast....similar to the Serve As Quickly As Possible above. The roast was always great, but there was always a slight or noticeable amount of bleeding. After using the later method and increasing the resting period first to 45 minutes and ultimately to an hour....the results were for better on the finished roast. Zero bleeding on the plate....maybe a touch on the meat.

          The family and friend are always required to give an honest assessment in an attempt to find the ultimate fool proof recipe, or process. These last half dozen roasts have been carried out with nary a single complaint. I usually purchase my meat exclusively at a wholesale meat purveyor, but I have even done a couple of these tests with rib roasts purchased at the local supermarket when on sale.

          The following link is to a eGForum thread where comments are mostly positive for a low and slow attempt. Only one comment noticed the amount of bleeding and pooling of meat juices on the plate. I'm sure the roast was still good, but he simply did not allow for enough time to rest the meat. I would like others to know this could be avoided and remove the fear roasting prime rib is a gut wrenching matter how you like your meat. Please do not cringe when you view the pictures.....

          1. re: fourunder



            First, I want to wish all a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season. Second, I want to than all that have participated in this discussion to date.....we have all enjoyed a good ride and we have all benefited in learning from the positive experiences of other who have shared their stories. I am humbled and honored to those who have trusted my comments and had the confidence to allow me to be part of their Holiday table ...through the greatest cut of beef...The Prime Rib Roast. There is nothing more traditional for the Holidays for many families.

            As I have indicated already, I planned for two Prime Rib Roasts this year. One was 4-Ribs @ 10+ pounds and the other was 3-Ribs @ 7+ pounds each. Both roasts were from the Chuck End/Center Cut/Blade End, as it's the side I prefer for the added fat it offers.

            Both roasts were trimmed a little too much for my liking, so I asked the butcher to give me some extra fat scraps to roast atop each roast to correct that issue. Each roast was allowed to Dry-Age. or simply air dry in the refrigerator for 7 days leading up to Christmas Day roasting. Two days before roasting, I prepared the roasts by partially slicing off the bones and seasoning the roast with just Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper. The roasts were then subsequently tied off

            The recipe, or roasting process was basically the same as always, except to note that 200* was the setting that was chosen to roast at this year. The steps were simple:

            * Dry-Age for 7 Days
            * Season 48 hours in advance
            * Preheat oven to 450*
            * Brown/Sear the roast for 20 minutes @ 450*
            * Drop the oven setting to 200*
            * Target temperature around 120* for Medium-Rare
            * Hold the roast inside the oven @ 140* for at least two hours.
            * 450* High heat blast for 10 minutes
            * Ready to slice and serve

            Everything was pretty much standard and expected. The only notable instances to report are that:

            * Both roast hit temperature sooner than expected @ the 3 hour mark. The 3-Rib hit 122* and the 4-Rib hit 122*
            * Circumstances this year forced both roasts to be held for longer than expected resting periods....3.5 and 4.5 hours before the first slice was made.
            * Bleeding was minimal and not expected, but nevertheless, the end result was good and thankfully a couple of notches on the success side.

            Enjoy the pictures....

            1. re: fourunder



              Preparation pictures before roasting....

              1. re: fourunder

                RE: 2012 CHRISTMAS PRIME RIB ROASTS


                Ready to roast pictures .....

        2. re: Swamibob

          I like browning it first, either in a hot oven, in a pan, or with a torch. I'm always concerned about the browning at the end method -- it seems to me that after you've taken such care to make it uniform all the way through, browning at the end runs the risk of overdone on the outer layer and rising too much as it rests. Seems to me it introduces the problem we are trying to avoid. And it seems a bit complicated with two resting periods, two cooking/warming periods and an unpredictable high heat blast.

          But others swear by it.

          1. re: acgold7

   seems a bit complicated with two resting periods, two cooking/warming periods and an unpredictable high heat blast.

            I used to have your exact same sentiments...and may have actually commented exactly as you have word for word in the past here, and elsewhere.

            To clarify my method, there is only one resting period, then a reheat and high heat blast. There is no second resting period. My experience has also proved the overall texture of the roast benefits from the longer resting period of one hour and less at 20-30 minutes. The evidence is the ease of chew and the zero amount of bleeding, or lack of juice pooling on the plate.

            My methods and opinions were formulated using the *Perfect Prime Rib* apporoach as a references and using variations to improve (in my opinion only).

            1. re: fourunder

              I do believe you, completely, because it's obvious you've done a lot of study and experimentation on this.

              You don't rest the roast after the sear at the end? You remove from the oven and carve immediately? Interesting.

              1. re: acgold7

                The sear doesn't penetrate the inside meat. The meat has already been rested.

                I'm using this method this year. I put a lot of faith in Kenji.

          2. re: Swamibob


            Since you and I have started this discussion, much has happened and there are a lot of great stories. Like your family, mine has also opined the roasts were always a little to rare for half the crowd and very many prefer the higher end of temperature scales, as opposed to the lower end


            Medium-Rare...125 -135


            I have since adjusted and prepared two similar roasts each Holiday gathering, one for a target temperature of 128 for Medium-Rare, the other to 138 for Medium. Both roasts look reasonably similar when finished...but I have to say the nod seems to go to the Medium Roast as the safe bet and for preferred tastes. To me, my 2014 results, The Medium Roast finished at 143* and even the ones who prefer the lower Medium-Rare generally all said the Medium was really just as good would have no problem eating it anytime.


          3. I too love low and slow and from the moment I first tried it, I haven't looked back. I prefer browning at the beginning for the reasons detailed above. But to me, low & slow is the way to go.

            1 Reply
            1. re: acgold7

              I changed from searing or browning in the beginning, and the Cook's Illustrated method a few years back. For lack of a better word, I may still brown initially in a 450 oven for 10-15 minutes....but my purpose is not really to brown or sear.....rather, it's really more to bring back up the temperature of the oven after opening the door and inserting the roast.

              I gave up on the stove....there's less to clean, i.e., the brazier pan and stove top splatter.

            2. Entering *Medium-Rare Prime Rib Images* in a Google search....

              These two pictures came about. My results with low and slow look like the first link, bright pink evenly throughout, including deckle...but never remotely close to the darker gray ring and dark deckle result in the second



              So what's your idea of *Medium-Rare*.....the first or second image?

              8 Replies
              1. re: fourunder

                I prefer the first image. That is how I like my filets to turn out as well. I do a high sear on the grill for 2 mins on each side, then I turn the burner off under the steaks and like them cook slowly with indirect heat only and it will turn out with only a 1/4" of gray where they were seared and all the rest will be a solid pink color. That is how it should be, the most amount of meat at the perfect temperature.

                1. re: fourunder

                  Sorry, I forgot to attach the example of how I like my fillet.

                  1. re: Swamibob

                    Very one of the threads above where I roasted different chuck roasts at different temps and times......the ones that look like the fillet above were equally enjoyable, albeit chewier than the fillet.

                  2. re: fourunder

                    I would definitely call the photo in the first link "med-rare" and the second link "medium." Although the photo in the second link is pink right at the center, the rest of the meat looks way too done to be called medium rare.

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Agreed, my assessment is exactly the same as yours.....I'll go on to add further that, the first link is in line with roasting low and slow.....the second link is closer to the high heat for an hour or so, then shutting off the oven for two.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        Makes sense. I'm definitely going to give your method a shot the next time I have a big roast to do - have you tried this method with other large roasts, like a leg of lamb, etc?

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          In general, I roast all meats @ 225*. I have tried lower temperatures, but for my concerns and needs, the longer time has not produced any significant results to warrant the extra time need to reach target temperatures. I probably roast two large 10-12 pound chuck roasts (3 inches thick), a couple of times a month, the same with pork shoulders, an occasional turkey and YES, with Leg of Lamb as well. I prefer the low and slow over the more moderate heat of 325-375 most recipes call for. A full leg of lamb usually takes 3.5-4.5 hours depending on size.

                          Other Cuts @ 225

                          Tri-Tip or Whole Top Butt Sirloin I seam out.

                          Pork Loin, Rib End Roast and Rack of Pork, Fresh Ham and Spare Ribs

                          Turkey 16+ pounds......12-14 pound I find I prefer 275*

                          Even Steaks and Chops can benefit if they are thick cuts.(reverse sear)

                          Chickens are the exception to low and slow method, as I find the meat becomes rubbery.

                          With regards to the leg of lamb or Prime Rib....if you like to make slits and fill with garlic cloves, the low and slow approach does not work well ....the garlic really doesn't soften and is raw to taste and smell.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            Thanks for all this detail! Re: garlic cloves, I actually find that they don't soften enough for my taste even with higher heat. If I want garlic flavor, I prefer to fill the slits either with pre-roasted garlic or a paste made with crushed fresh and mashed roasted garlic (I just pipe it in with a piping bag or smush it in with my fingers). You don't get the visual effect of the whole cloves but I much prefer the flavor.

                  3. Low & Slow is romantic, rhymes, and is part of popular culture, whats not to like?
                    I realize buying a whole rib roast is somewhat of an investment and makes people somewhat nervous. The seemingly never-ending debate over various methods adds to the anxiety.

                    Carving an entire rib roast at the table is incredibly sexy (we once did a hanging leg of beef - that was cool), but I feel I can get a tastier end product.
                    Its this reason that I don't necessarily "embrace low and slow".

                    I really enjoy BBQ and grilling in general, so when doing prime rib, I do a mixed method approach: I sear in a very hot oven, let rest, carve, then grill over live maple charcoal.
                    The sear gives a delicious crust (cannot get this from low and slow), the grill gives incredible flavor. The grill also gives me more control over the doneness of each serving. This is useful as my table runs the gamut of rare to shoe leather (gotta love the mother-in-law...).

                    Granted, this is not a straightforward roast prep, but this is why I don't go the low&slow route. Actually, a few other steps are involved: I cut away the ribs, rub the roast and rack with Montreal steak spice, tie the ribs back onto the roast, wrap, and fridge overnight (a slight cure). Next day, it warms to room temp, then into a 550F oven for an hour, taken out and left to cool to room temp. I can proceed to grill or wrap and fridge until ready. I cut away the ribs and grill over live charcoal. I carve the boneless roast into portions (the center is raw/rare) and grill to desired doneness.
                    Serve the portion with a sliced off bone.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: porker


                      * When you sear in a hot oven, at what temperature and for how long?

                      * How long do you allow to rest before carving?

                      * Is there much difference from your slice and grill beef cut portion compared to an individual steak portion that has been rubbed and grilled over the same coals?


                      1. re: fourunder

                        * 550F oven for an hour

                        * At least and hour. I have wrapped and fridged up to 2 days in advance. In this case, I'd let it come to room temp before grilling.
                        If I carved right out of the oven, it would bleed out.

                        * Night and day. The steak spice overnight cures the exterior. The sear gives a very tasty crust.

                        When I ran a restaurant in a previous life, I'd occasionally offer this prime rib as a special. It sold out EVERY time with the majority of sales done even before the special was offered (reserved, pre-sale).
                        Later on, cooks from nearby restos would ask "what is BBQed prime rib? We have more and more people asking for it." I'd smile and explain the method.

                        1. re: porker

                          Very nice....

                          Ideally, would you like to roast, cool and serve on the same day, or better to make a two day process.


                          1. re: fourunder

                            Actually it would be a 3 day process:
                            day 1 - carve ribs, tie, spice rub, fridge.
                            day 2 - come to room temp, sear, return to room temp, fridge
                            day 3 - come to room temp, cut strings, carve roast into portions, grill along with ribs, serve.

                            You could do it in two days - sear and grill the second day. I don't think it makes much of a difference, but I like to think the extra day ages the cooked exterior a bit. The bigger difference is time management; when doing this at home, I like to do as little as possible on the day-of and this frees up some time.

                            1. re: porker


                              thank for the details.....I hope to give it a try sometime.. It sounds like a winning recipe.

                    2. Never had a disaster with prime rib, and no we don't do low and slow. This years came out fabulous as usual. But I don't think we have ever had a disaster on the Big Green Egg.