Rotisserie Beef Prime Rib Roast
*It’s so simple that I hesitate to call it a recipe. It’s almost all technique. Salt the beef early, then cook it over a rotisserie until it’s medium rare. Done.
The key to this recipe is the beef. You really want a Prime rib roast, not just a regular beef roast. Yes, it will be expensive. In a recipe this simple, the quality of the ingredients (ingredient?) really stands out.
*It will work with a good rib roast. It won’t be the transcendent experience that a Prime roast is, but it will work.
Prime rib is what I’m cooking for my side of the family at our Christmas dinner. It’s not that my wife’s side of the family doesn’t like beef; they do. But us Vrobels, we LOVE our beef.
*I’ve been beef heavy on the blog recently. We’ll have a more balanced diet in the new year. But for right now, it’s Christmas! It’s time to celebrate! This is one of the meals that I will pass up Christmas cookies for, just to make sure I have extra room. Yes, it’s that good.
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber kettle with the Rotisserie attachment; the kettle is here and the rotisserie attachment is here)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9″x12″, or whatever fits your grill)
- Butcher’s twine
- 1 Bone in Prime rib roast – (4 pounds, a 2 rib roast, serves 4-6; 10 pounds, a 5 rib roast, serves 10-12)
- 1 tsp kosher salt per pound of roast (4 tsp for a 4 pound roast)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper per pound of roast (2 tsp for a 4 pound roast)
[Update 2014-12-21] Here’s my video of this recipe on a gas grill: How To Rotisserie a Rib Roast]
1. Pre-salt the beef: Two hours before cooking, trim any excess fat off the outside of the rib roast, then sprinkle evenly with the kosher salt. Let the salted roast rest at room temperature for two hours.
*You can salt the roast up to 24 hours in advance; if you do, wrap the roast tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until two hours before cooking. Remove from the refrigerator, take off the plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for the last two hours.
2. Prepare the grill: Prepare your rotisserie for cooking. Use indirect high heat for a 4-6 lb roast; use medium-high for a 6+ pound roast. (See details here). For my Weber kettle, I light a chimney starter* full of charcoal for high, or 3/4 full for medium-high. Once the charcoal is covered in ash, I pour it in two equal piles on the sides of the grill, and put the drip pan in the middle, between the piles.
*I highly recommend the Weber Chimney Starter, because it is larger than most chimney starters. It holds 5 quarts of charcoal, which exactly the right size for cooking this recipe.
3. Truss and Skewer the Roast: While the charcoal is lighting, truss the roast between each bone with the butcher’s twine. Then skewer the roast on your rotisserie spit. I try to balance the weight by running the spit a little off-center, closer to the bones.
4. Cook the Roast: Put the spit on the rotisserie, and cook with the lid closed. Add 16 coals (8 to each pile) after each hour of cooking to keep the heat going. The best way to determine if the roast is done is to check the temperature with a probe thermometer. You want the thickest part to register of 120*F for medium-rare, (115*F for rare, 125*F for medium. Beyond that, you’re on your own.) Start checking the temperature a half hour before you expect the roast to be done, and check every 10-15 minutes thereafter, depending on how close you’re getting to done.
[Update 2012-12-20] The cooking time is determined by the thinnest part of the roast. I would assume about 15 minutes a pound of cooking time, up to about eight pounds. After that, the width of the roast becomes more important than the weight and the cooking time levels off.
- A four pound roast is done in about an hour; start checking the temperature after 45 minutes
- An eight pound or larger roast will be done in about 2 hours; start checking the temperature at an hour and a half.
5. Rest, then Carve the Roast: Remove the spit from the grill, remove the roast from the spit, and remove the trussing twine from the roast. Cover the roast with foil, and let rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. 30 would be better, if you have the time. Carve the bones off of the roast, then carve the roast into 1/2 thick slices. Pour any juices on the carving board back over the roast, and serve.
*Horseradish sauce is excellent with Prime Rib; see my Rotisserie Beef Tenderloin for the recipe.
*I know I said that this is simple perfection. If you can’t help messing with perfection, try some of these other variations:
*Herb Crusted: See my Rotisserie Rib Roast with a Herb Crust recipe
*Smoking wood: Add one fist sized sized piece of smoking wood to the coals when you put the roast on the grill. I would use oak, preferably a Wine Barrel Stave, but hickory would be acceptable.
*If you’re not using a Prime roast, then this is a great idea; with a Prime roast, I prefer the slight hint of smoke you get from the charcoal itself, so I don’t add extra smoking wood.
*Butter basted: Use the butter baste from my Rotisserie Beef Tenderloin. There is a lot of fat in a prime rib roast, so this borders on overkill. If you’re into overkill, go for it.
*As I said in the opening, the key to this recipe is the Prime beef. The better the beef, the better the outcome. My top choices would be Prime, then certified Black Angus, then…well, at that point, have you considered a Christmas ham?
*Rib roast is very thick; even with the pre-salting, the center of the roast is basically unseasoned. You should pass some salt at the table for your guests to sprinkle on the sliced pieces of roast. Use Kosher salt, at least. A good, coarse sea salt, like Fleur De Sel de Camargue is perfect.
*I cut the ribs apart, and serve them on the side for people who like to eat with their hands.
*Which would be me. If no one is looking, I eat one of the ribs after I’m done carving. Or while I’m carving, if I’m hungry enough.
*The pictures are from a smaller, 2 bone roast I cooked a few months ago. It was a 4 pound roast; I’m expecting to get one at least twice that size for Christmas. If you’re going with a larger roast, try to go with at least an overnight pre-salting.
*Also, I frenched the bones on the roast in the pictures by cutting the fat and meat out between the bones, then scraping the bones clean. It makes for a nicer presentation, but you get less meat on the bones. I prefer the meat on the bones, as I mention above, so I’m not doing it again.
*I plan on serving this with horseradish sauce, green beans, and rotisserie pan potatoes. Oh, and a good California Cabernet Sauvignon. (Though a St. Emillion or Lalande de Pomerol are also good.)
*[Update 12/30/2009] I bought a five bone roast for Christmas dinner. It was 15 pounds – 3 to 5 pounds more than I expected it to be! It took longer to cook, too – between the larger roast, and the cold, windy day, my grill was staying at about 250*F with the additional coals added ever hour. I kind of lost track of the cooking time; we were opening presents in the house while it cooked, and I was running in and out every so often to check on the temperature of the roast. I think it took 3 hours, but I could be off by a half an hour either way. I pulled the roast at a 115*F internal temperature, measured in the thickest part of the middle of the roast. It was perfectly rare in the middle, and the ends were medium rare to medium, so I was able to serve a wide range of doneness to my guests.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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