Smoked Prime Rib – Perfecting the Reverse Sear

I spent New Year’s Eve alone this year :(. I still wanted to celebrate surviving another trip around the sun, so I hunted up a small prime rib roast and tried my hand yet again at a reverse sear.

With prime rib, you want to maximize the amount of medium-rare meat from edge to center and still have a nicely browned, flavorful crust. This can be a bit tricky because most traditional roasting techniques end up overcooking the outermost layers, leaving you with a wide band of gray and dry meat.

The reverse sear avoids this by cooking the meat slowly until it’s just about medium rare, then pulling it out to rest for 30 minutes while you crank the heat up as high as it’ll go. Then searing the roast until the outside is brown and sizzling, but not so long that you start to cook the inside.

1 prime rib roast (2.8 pounds, boneless)
Sea or kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons Montreal-style steak seasoning

Prep the roast at least a day in advance. Score the deckle (fat cap by making shallow diagonal cuts in a diamond pattern at about 1-inch intervals. Generously dust the roast on all sides with the steak seasoning and plenty of salt, making sure to work it into the cuts.

If the roast is too oblong, tie if up with butcher’s twine to get it more round and compact. This will help it cook more evenly. Stash in the fridge overnight.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook over low (250°F) heat. On the Big Green Egg this meant using the plate setter (convEGGtor) inverted with the legs up and a drip pan to diffuse the heat.

When the grill is ready add a little wood for smoke. I use a mix of apple and a little mesquite.

Roast the meat at 250°F until it hits 120°F internal, about for 1 1/2 hours. I used a Maverick Et-732 Remote Thermometer to keep an eye on both grill and internal meat temp.

Prime Rib

Remove from the grill and let rest someplace warm for 30 minutes.

Prime Rib

While the meat is resting, crank up your grill as hot as it will go while still keeping the indirect setup. I got the Egg up to just a bit shy of 700°F.

Return the roast to the grill for 5-10 minutes, just long enough to crisp the outside.

Prime Rib

Slice and served immediately.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Perfectly rare/medium-rare with a crispy crust and not a titch of gray to be seen. The smoke added a little bite to the meat that helped to offset the richness. Now that I’ve got this reverse sear figured out I’m going to be using it a lot more.

For you food geeks – I took the roast off the grill when it hit 118°F Internal. The temp rose while resting to 123°F then dropped to 122°F.  There was less than a tablespoon of juices lost on the cutting board and the meat was so juicy that there were little pools of standing juice on the slices. The sear only took 5 minutes as was so intense that at the end the little fat in the drip pan got so hot it ignited.

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