Published September 1, 2006.
Getting a deep, flavorful crust on this costly cut of meat can be a messy, smoky ordeal in the kitchen. How about taking it outside?
To make the most of prime rib's superior marbling—the thin lines of intramuscular fat that flavor and tenderize as they melt away—most recipes call for long cooking at a slow temperature. The downside is a gray-brown exterior that's neither appealing nor flavorful.
While you can achieve a well-charred crust by searing the roast on all sides quickly in a hot skillet, this approach often produces sputtering grease and billowing smoke. We wanted a great crust without the mess and without setting off the smoke detectors.
We moved the proceedings outside, grilling our roast on a modified two-level fire. First, we seared the fat-covered side (to minimize flare-ups, we had the butcher trim the fat layer down to a thin 1/8 inch), then we moved the roast to the cooler side of the grill. While this approach solved the color problem (and kept the smoke outdoors), we still hadn't created a satisfactory crust. To add crispiness, we applied a dry salt rub for 3 hours before grilling. This drew out moisture from just below the surface, letting it evaporate faster once the searing process began. And to achieve more depth, we added a modest amount of smoke flavor using wood chunks. The smoke flavor penetrated only about half an inch into the large roast, leaving a roast in which every slice had a crunchy, salty crust, a thin layer of smokiness, and a generous expanse of pink, juicy premium beef.list of recipes