Lord knows not all my cooks come out right. Well…maybe that might be a bit presumptuous. He probably doesn’t care how my cooks go. But my family and close friends know they don’t always go right or according to plan. This particular cook turned out
fine fantastic if my family is to be believed. It just didn’t go quite as planned. Now don’t get me wrong. The prime rib turned out fine, it was my timing of the cook that was totally off, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
For many, Christmas time is a time for family and friends to spend time together. To bask in the love of others we are so blessed to have in our life. And when you get people together, food is always an important part of it. Showing your love for others by feeding them (both physically and emotionally). At least that’s the way it is in our family. This year, I decided to step it up and take some of the burden off my Mom by volunteering to cook the main entrée. Nobody wants to be stuck in the kitchen all day on Christmas cooking.
This year we decided to do a prime rib. Seems like for more and more people, prime rib is the way to go for Christmas dinner. And of course, you know we had to do it on the Egg! Which involved a trip over to their house earlier in the week to get it there and all set up. Let me tell you, these things are HEAVY!
Before you get to thinking that I know everything about grilling and smoking and cooking in general, let me just clear that up for you. I don’t. Far from it. I have no culinary training, just a passion for making good food. And enough sense to know when I don’t know how to do something and when it is time to seek out some help. You see, I have only cooked one prime rib in my life. Last year. And it was smaller. And it was done in the oven. So this was new territory for me. So I asked and asked and asked on The Egghead Forum everything I could possibly ask. And then I asked some more until I figured I could stumble my way through this cook.
For this cook, I kept it pretty simple. I wanted the meat to be the star and to shine through. That being said, there’s not a lot of surface area as compared to interior on a prime rib. So rubbed it down with some canola oil (to help the spices stick) and then sprinkled on some coarse Kosher salt, some fresh cracked black pepper, freshly chopped garlic and finished off with a light dusting of Dizzy Pig’s Cow Lick (which is a steak seasoning).
The Egg was set up to cook at 250F using my new Adjustable Rig from the Ceramic Grill Store that my In-Laws had gotten me for Christmas. I just had to break in my new toy. If you don’t have an Adjustable Rig, you can use your place setter (legs up) and set your grate on top of that. If using another grill or smoker, set it up for an indirect cook just like you would for brisket, ribs or pork butts. I did toss in one hickory chunk, but for the most part wanted this to be pretty much a smokeless cook. I didn’t want heavy smoke to overpower the meat. (I may or may not have a post in the next week or so on what the Adjustable Rig is and what it’s for. Let me know if you are interested in that)
From what I am told (and my limited experience), prime rib is not a difficult cut of meat to cook. Nothing like a brisket. You just need to make sure not to overcook it. It’s supposed to be on the medium rare side with lots of pink (although if you want to cook it further, feel free to do so). The only hard part about it is figuring out the cooking time.
From my research, it didn’t seem like there was a rule of thumb for how long it would take (like pork butts which should take an hour and half to two hours per pound). What I was told, or came to understand, was that it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours to cook at 250F. My plan was to cook it indirectly at that 250 until it reached an internal temperature of 115F. At that point, I would pull the prime rib off the Egg and wrap it in foil. Then, I would remove the adjustable rig, place the grate directly on the Egg, open the vents and raise the temperature to 500-550F. When it reached that temperature, I would unwrap the prime rib, return it to the Egg and sear it until the temperature hits 130. At this point, I was planning to remove the prime rib, loosely tent it in foil and let it rest for 30 minutes and the temperature would climb to 135.
Everything seemed to be going according to plan. I cooked it until it hit 115. I pulled it and set the egg up to sear the prime rib. Schedule wise, we looked great. I started to sear the prime rib and this is where it started going wrong for us. Fat was dripping off the prime rib, smoke was pouring out the top of the Egg, if you opened it to check, flames would shoot up! But it was starting to look great. It was developing a nice outer bark, the color looked amazing, the smell was out of this world. I wasn’t quite sure how long it was supposed to sear, though. And that was my mistake. I never asked how long the sear was supposed to be. I began to get worried about overcooking the prime rib. I began to worry about burning the outside. I let it go as long as I dared, I think maybe 5 minutes and pulled it off, wrapped it in foil and began to let it rest. As we were waiting, I had a probe thermometer in it. It started to slowly creep up. 117…118…119. Oh no….this does not look good! This can’t be right! This is under done! I can’t serve it like this!
I’m starting to get nervous, panic is creeping in, something has to be done. At least it wasn’t overcooked. So I sucked it up, bolstered up my nerves with a bit more bourbon (did I not mention I had a few already?), set the Egg back up for an indirect cook and threw that hunk of beef back on. And let it cook. When it finally hit 130, I pulled it off (yet again) and let it rest. Let me tell you, the natives were not happy and were growing restless. Dinner was supposed to be ready at 4:30…5 at the latest and here we were waiting on the meat. Meat that was on the counter and was as far as they knew ready to cut. 17 people! I did some talking, I did some explaining and tried to stretch it out and after 15 LONG minutes (it was 5:30 at this point), I gave in and began to carve, nervous as hell, hoping and praying I didn’t screw it up.
I know the picture does not do it the justice it deserves. Not used to taking pictures in my Mom’s kitchen…with 17 hungry people breathing down my neck. It was pinker than it looks in the picture. Take my word for it…or don’t. We served it up with some au jus (see bottom of post), horseradish cream sauce, garlic-chive mashed taters, green bean casserole, the Pioneer Woman’s 9 hour mushrooms, broccoli and other stuff I can’t recall right now.
If family can be believed, it was well worth the wait. Including me, there were 18 people and only one minor complaint. One of my uncles (and I’m not sure if he was kidding) said prime rib should be able to cut with just a fork. Of course, this is my uncle that won’t eat pink meat at all and took the end piece, so yeah, it may have been more done, but that’s the piece he picked and there’s no accounting for some people’s taste.
Do you recall this picture from the beginning of the post? That was a note that was left for me from my Uncle David, stuck under the cutting board where the prime rib was resting. Think it was some type of hint? He drew that from scratch. I think I’ll be keeping that as a memento.
So when all was said and done, family was well fed and happy and we got to spend a wonderful day together. I’ve relearned to never cook something new for a group for the first time. Always do a trial run, although if you can’t practice on family, who can you practice on? I’ve decided in the future, I will probably do boneless prime ribs. And after doing some more research, I learned that the sear should have taken anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes per side (20 minutes being the minimum). Live and learn, right?
Even though it is late, from me and mine, I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas. I hope that everybody out there was able to spend time with family and loved ones and had a wonderful and safe holiday.
Simple Au Jus
- 20 ounces of beef stock
- 1 package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix
- 3 Tbsp of butter
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 tsp of dried rosemary
- 1 or 2 tbsp of drippings from prime rib
- Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil
- Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes
- Strain au jus and serve with prime rib