Standing rib roast is a special treat that will impress your friends and family, and it couldn't be easier to cook in the WSM. Best of all, you'll achieve a smoky flavor that surpasses most of the prime rib you've ever eaten in restaurants.
Here are some pictures I took when I prepared three-rib standing rib roasts using the Weber Bullet on November 25, 2000 and November 27, 2004.
As always...click on any of the pictures to view a larger image.
Splurge On USDA Prime Meat
Buy a three-rib USDA Prime standing rib roast, preferably the "small end" (ribs 10-12). One advantage of buying such an expensive piece of meat is that it should already be trimmed and tied perfectly by your butcher, so there's no prep to do when you get this beauty home.
Photo 1 shows the 6.5 pound USDA Prime standing rib roast that I purchased from a high-end market. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't get a roast from the small end—this one was cut from ribs 6-8—but it was still very, very good.
To learn more about standing rib roasts, see the Standing Rib Roast Selection & Preparation article.
This video demonstrates how to tie a roast. Click on the video to play.
Prepare The Herb Paste
Make sure to use fresh herbs, not dry ones. I must admit that I don't cook often with fresh herbs, and as I chopped these and smelled the strong aroma they produced, I wondered if they would taste too strong. Don't worry, they won't. The herbs and seasonings blend together and mellow during cooking in a way that's really delicious.
Rub the paste over all surfaces of the meat, including on the ends of the roast and on the bones.
Let the roast sit at room temperature for two hours before cooking.
Choose An Appropriate Smoke Wood
Given the cost of this meat, the last thing you want to do is ruin it by using a smoke wood that's too strong or by applying too much smoke. I recommend that you use a mild fruit wood, and that you use it sparingly.
I chose modest-sized chunks of apple and cherry, two each, which I did not soak in water before use. The dry wood provides a quick but effective burst of smoke during the relatively short cooking time of this roast.
Fire The Cooker
Fire-up the cooker using the Standard Method—one full chimney of hot Kingsford charcoal briquettes in the charcoal bowl, followed by another full chimney of unlit Kingsford, allowing all coals to become fully lit before cooking.
If you have two chimneys, you can fill and fire both simultaneously.
Foil The Water Pan
Cover the inside and outside of the water pan with wide, heavy duty aluminum foil. Place the pan inside the cooker, but leave it empty.
Smoke The Prime Rib
When all the coals are covered with gray ash, assemble the cooker and place the roast bone-side down on the top grate. Insert a probe thermometer in the center of the roast to monitor the internal meat temperature during cooking.
Set the three bottom vents to 100% open. Open the top vent fully and leave it that way throughout the entire cook. Add the smoke wood to the hot coals.
The cooker temperature will start out at 400-450°F, but should ramp down to 350-360°F after the addition of the meat. If it's a cool, breezy day, you may need to keep the bottom vents wide open to achieve 350°F measured at the lid. If it's a calm, warm day, you may need to partially close the bottom vents to bring the cooker down to about 350°F.
Cook at 350°F to 5-10° below the final internal temperature you want to achieve. Residual heat in the meat will cause the internal temp to rise 5-10°F during a 30 minute rest after cooking.
I like my prime rib somewhere between medium-rare and medium—pink, but not bloody—so I picked 125°F as the internal temperature at which I would remove the roast from the cooker. After a 30 minute rest, I would expect it to reach a final internal temperature of 130-135°F. Going much beyond 135°F risks overcooking the roast, so be careful if you do.
If you want rare prime rib with some medium-rare and medium meat on the ends, remove the roast from the cooker at 115°F so it will reach a final temperature of 120-125°F after the 30 minute rest.
Estimated cooking time is 20-28 minutes per pound, depending on factors such as the size of the roast, how hot the cooker is running, what type of fuel is used, and weather conditions, but my experience has been 19-23 minutes per pound with roasts like this one.
There's no need to turn or baste the roast during the cooking process.
Here's how the cooker temperatures and vent settings went during the cooking process on November 27, 2004.
Note that the vent percentages represent the way I set the vents at the time indicated.
Rest The Meat
Place the roast on a rimmed baking pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest 30 minutes before slicing. This allows the meat to finish cooking and for the juices to redistribute and stabilized within the roast.
Alternatively, you can hold the roast at serving temperature for up to an hour by wrapping it tightly with two layers of foil and placing it in an empty ice chest.
Carve And Serve
Remove the twine used to tie the roast. Roll the roast onto its side so the bones are vertical to the cutting board and the ends of the bones are pointing straight up. Using the bones as a handle, cut downward close to the bones and remove them, as shown in Photo 7. Reserve the bones as a snack for the chef.
Next, place the roast flat on the cutting board and carve slices to your desired thickness.
I cut thick slices for dinner and served them with a baked potato, creamed corn, au jus and creamy horseradish on the side, and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.
There were plenty of leftovers for prime rib sandwiches served on garlic butter toasted rolls with fries and au jus on the side (I use Lawry's or Knorr brand au jus from a packet).
My cooking log notes that the meat looked beautiful, juicy, and well-roasted, with a thin, pink smoke ring around the edge. The herb paste formed a dark crust that looked very appetizing. The aroma was rich and beefy, and the herbs and garlic mellowed nicely during cooking. The meat was extremely tender, as you would expect from USDA Prime meat, and tasted delicious with a great smoky flavor I've never experienced in prime rib before. The apple and cherry smoke wood was not too strong, but not too subtle—it was just right.
More Beef Rib Roast Links On TVWB
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