Prime Rib Selection and Preparation 101

Prime rib cut of meat is probably the best piece of beef you can find on the market. The reason? Well, it’s got something for everybody. From fatty, juicy bites, for true meat lovers, to the lean areas for the pickiest eaters, the prime rib has it all. 

This large piece of meat has a lot to offer if you know how to work with it properly. The only thing you need to know to make it great is how to cook a prime rib. 

Keep reading to get a better grasp on the complete preparation of this giant cut of beef. We’ll cover everything from the basics like what cut is prime rib and how to choose one for yourself to the details in the final preparation. 

What Is Prime Rib

Let’s answer the basic questions before we get into how to buy prime rib, the parts it contains, and how to handle its preparation. So, what is prime rib?

Firstly, saying it’s the heaviest piece of beef you can buy for home preparation wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, many people refer to it as a high-quality tomahawk. And there’s nothing wrong with that statement.

Usually, a roast consists of a full rack of ribs. And most often, this meat comes from the ribs between rib #6 and rib #12. It’s the same meat from which ribeyes and tomahawks are made.

So, when it’s all summed up, what is prime rib? Well, when it comes to steak cuts, it’s the best piece of meat you can find out there.

Where to Find the Prime Rib Cut of Meat

Since it isn’t as popular as some other pieces of beef, finding prime rib isn’t as easy as getting regular steaks. Most people don’t even know what cut is prime rib, so why should it be in your store’s fridge? Well, unless there’s a mainstream holiday coming up, it most likely isn’t.

Looking for prime rib cuts at the supermarket might not be the best idea, but visiting your local butcher shop will potentially give you better results. The butcher works with the entire cow, so they have access to all available beef cuts.

Local, smaller butcher shops will likely have more hospitable employees willing to listen to your wishes and have more freedom to work with the customer. So, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll be able to get a flawless steak cut in the perfect size for dinner you were planning.

What to do if you crave a prime rib cut of meat but don’t have a butcher shop nearby? Try your luck at chains like Costco and Whole Foods and talk to their workers. There is a possibility they’ll be able to order a prime cut for tomorrow.

How to Buy Prime Rib – Choosing the Best Piece of Meat

Most people think prime rib got its name because it is USDA graded as the primal cut. However, this isn’t always the case. Since the beef cut got its name before the USDA came out with the meat gradings, the term “prime rib” doesn’t have anything to do with them.

Knowing what cut is prime rib is easy, but finding the USDA prime by eye is more complicated. Luckily, the price will give it away in most cases. Usually, USDA prime is 25% to 50% more expensive than a piece of meat graded USDA choice (the second-best cut).

Of course, there are other things to differentiate the steaks besides the prices. You can choose between grass-fed beef, wagyu steak, organic meat, dry-aged, and other options. We’ll leave that to you and your preferences.

In our minds, the only thing worth considering is the marbling. With decent marbling, the full flavor is almost inevitable.

What to Do With the Bone? 

Talking to your butcher might lead you to a question you weren’t expecting. Which type of prime rib are you looking for, and what to do with the bone? Three possible options carry different flavors to the steak.

  • Bone-In

If you’re looking for flavor, this is the way to go. Bone-In steaks have by far the richest flavor profile out of all of these options. 

It’s important to keep in mind that you’ll be paying for the bone as well. Because of that, the steak will cost less “per pound” but will weigh significantly more. So, if your dog was a good boy, this is a chance to get both of you a real treat.

  • Boneless

The bone brings the flavor with it, but it makes working with the meat more challenging. It’s even worse if you are an inexperienced cook. 

Removing the bone makes the meat a lot easier to handle. Though the steak loses some appeal once the bone is removed, the boneless prime rib has its advantages.

The crust is undoubtedly one of them. If you prefer crispy sides over the richness of the flavor, this is the steak for you.

  • Bones Cut Off and Tied Back On

This might be the most common way of selling prime rib, but it is far from the best. Many consider it a failed attempt to get the best of both worlds.

Instead, you get a piece of meat that doesn’t give you any of the qualities most people look for in a prime rib. There is no extra crust of the boneless cut or the additional flavor of the bone-in piece.

However, this version of the prime rib steak is the best-selling one. According to the internet, it’s the best option for seasoning the meat.

Parts of a Prime Rib

Though it may look like one large piece of meat, a prime rib consists of three parts with individual characteristics.

  • Spinalis Dorsi AKA Rib Cap

What was for many years a leftover is now the best piece of meat on the entire prime rib. Just a few years back, when fat was the enemy of every diet, this part of the meat would be cut off before making and serving a ribeye.

Nowadays, people understand its value and the flavor it brings, so it is kept on and served as a part of the prime rib. Because of all its qualities, this cut is often considered the best part of the prime rib.

  • Ribeye

It’s the central part of the prime rib. Naturally, it tastes exactly like a ribeye steak. Its complex taste and tenderness will amaze you.

  • Iliocostalis

Iliocostalis is not the most appealing out of all prime rib pieces.

It doesn’t have the reputation that the other parts do, but butchers leave it on for you to decide if you want to eat it.

How to Cook a Prime Rib

Once you’ve mastered how to buy prime rib, it’s only fitting you learn how to prepare one as well. Learning how to cook a prime rib isn’t as tricky as it sounds. In fact, we’ve divided it into six simple steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
  2. Use a cast-iron pan to brown the sides.
  3. Brush with butter and leave in the oven for 15 minutes. Keep the temperature at 450ºF.
  4. Lower the oven temperature to 200ºF.
  5. For a medium-rare steak, cook for 20 mins per pound.
  6. Leave for 30 minutes before eating.

Get a Proper Steak in Miami

If you find yourself hungry in Miami, check out Root & Bone. We’ll serve you the best steak Florida has to offer.