Kamado Joe Reverse Seared Prime Rib
by Boomer Hesley
Few cuts demand as much respect and attention during both the preparation and execution phases as the prime rib, rib roast, standing rib roast, etc. For a number of reasons, but usually because of the associated price tag, people feel more pressure to deliver excellence when cooking a prime rib. We’re here to cheer you on with this step-by-step guide to a perfect, mouth-watering prime rib using the tested method of the reverse sear. I chose to do this one in a Kamado Joe ceramic style grill to illustrate just how easy it is to pull off with any equipment.
Before we get into how to cook your roast, we’ll first need to prepare it. If you have a good butcher, there’s a chance you might be able to skip this step because it’s already done for you. I chose an untrimmed version to demonstrate both cleaning it up by removing excess fat, and also to demonstrate the French trim.
A day before starting your cook, give the meat a generous coating of salt and stash it in a refrigerator, preferably on a metal rack to keep it elevated. Allow it to rest, uncovered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Although many people are nervous to leave a raw cut of meat uncovered in their refrigerator, we strongly recommend it (as long as your refrigerator is set to an appropriate temperature). This step is critical for meats that will be smoked. As the meat rests uncovered in the refrigerator, a pellicle, or thin, skin-like membrane, will develop on the surface. This membrane will act like a well-developed bark on your meat while you’re smoking it, trapping the flavors of both the smoke and seasoning inside the meat. If you’re still unsure about it, that’s quite all right. Though this process isn’t entirely mandatory - incredible prime ribs have been made without doing it - it truly does help the final product.
After you’ve let the roast sit in the refrigerator for a day, it’s time to get started. The first step is to get your grill set up for a long smoke, whether that entails stacking some lump charcoal and your favorite flavor of wood chunks, or pressing a few buttons and loading up your pellet hopper. I used a Kamado Joe Classic Joe III, with the SlōRoller installed, fueled by charcoal and a few chunks of mesquite wood to get our temperature dialed in to 225F. For the first part of this cook, leave it at 225F until the target internal temperature of 110F is reached.
Once you’re confident your pit is ready to settle in for a long cook, go ahead and remove the roast from the refrigerator and rinse away all of the salt. Also, when you’re loading your grill for this cook, make sure to account for the extra time to get to 450F after the smoking phase and the additional cook time to get the prime rib finished on the grill at 450F.
After trimming away the excess fat, we’re going to kick the presentation up a few notches by doing a French trim. This simply means cutting away any excess fat and meat around and between the bones to give a cleaner appearance. The excess fat and membrane on the bottom side of the roast, attached to the bottom sides of the bones, should also be removed during this step. Even if you decide against doing the French trim, it’s still a good idea to remove the fat and membrane on the bottom of the bones. Although ours is far from perfect, your finished product should look something like this:
For this cook, I kept the rub relatively simple. I like to use some type of oil as a binder, like a flavorful sesame, but because the meat has already been resting in the refrigerator for a day with a salt coating, there is no need to add more at this stage.
After applying a very thin coat of sesame oil to the entire roast, I chose a 50:50 combination of rubbed sage and sweet basil for the rub. This same mixture of sage and basil can be stirred into melted butter (unsalted – we want complete salt control) to brush on the roast throughout the process.
After inserting a Meater+ wireless thermometer into the roast, it’s ready to be placed above the middle of the SlōRoller inside of the Classic Joe III.
And here comes the easiest step in this entire process – simply keep the lid closed until the prime rib’s internal temperature reaches 110F. Don’t look at it, don’t think about it, just find something else to do to kill the time! I don’t use any specific rule for cook times based on the weight of the meat, opting to trust the meat thermometer instead. However, if you’re more accustomed to using time & temperature, at 225F, we’d expect roughly 40 minutes per pound. Of course this is simply an estimate and we would recommend that all meat be checked with a food thermometer to make sure it’s safe to eat, always adhering to established food safety guidelines.
Ultimately, we’re shooting for a finished product with an internal temperature around 135F; but remember to give yourself time to get the SlōRoller removed and the grill up to our finishing temperature. Once you hit 110F, bring the roast inside and leave it on a wire rack to rest while you raise your grill’s temperature to 450F. While the roast is resting and the grill is heating up, liberally apply the mixture of melted butter, rubbed sage, and sweet basil to the whole thing.
When your grill’s temperature has reached 450F and is maintaining that temperature reliably, place the roast back on the grill in the middle of the grate. Go ahead and close the lid for this next step to get a good, even finish all over the meat.
While you are waiting on the grill to get hot and giving the prime rib a butter bath, the internal temperature of the roast should continue to rise. The simplicity of using the Meater+ thermometer is the reason we love it for this type of cook – it stays in the meat the entire time, providing wireless, real-time information to the app throughout the day (be sure to check the owner’s manual so you don’t exceed the thermometer’s operating temperature range by getting your grill too hot).
Our prime rib went back in the Classic Joe III with an internal temperature of 117F with the goal at carving time of 135F, which should result in a nice medium rare. Again, expecting a bit of a temperature increase after pulling it off of the grill, pull it at 125F and let it rest as it finishes rising to 135F. This process, called ‘carry over temperature,’ should always be used when cooking any type of meat. It can fluctuate from 5-15 degrees (F) depending on the size of the meat. In addition to allowing the temperature to reach its intended carving point, it will also allow the juices in the meat to be redistributed so you don’t end up with a super dry cut. I would recommend a minimum rest time of 5 minutes per inch of meat to maximize your cut’s potential.
With the Meater+ still installed in the roast, go ahead and let it rest with confidence, knowing you’ll get an alert at the exact time the internal temperature hits that target value, signaling that it is time to start carving the prime rib and guaranteeing an incredible finished product to share with family and friends.
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