Why This Recipe Works: Most of us cook prime rib only once a year, if that, and don’t want to risk experimenting with the cooking method—especially when the results are no better than mediocre. We thought that a special-occasion roast deserved better and wanted to find the best way to get the juicy, tender, rosy meat that prime rib should have.
The principal question for roasting prime rib was oven temperature, and our research turned up a wide range of recommendations. Most delivered meat that was well-done on the outside but increasingly rare toward the center—not too bad, but not exactly great. Surprisingly, the roast we cooked at a temperature of only 250 degrees was rosy from the center all the way out. Additionally, it retained more juice than a roast cooked at a higher temperature, and the internal temperature rose less during resting, so we had more control over the final degree of doneness. Searing before roasting gave us a crusty brown exterior. For seasoning, prime rib needs nothing more than salt and pepper. Now that we’d found a dependable cooking method, we could serve this once-a-year roast with confidence.
With two pieces of kitchen twine running parallel to the bone, tie the roast at both ends to prevent the outer layer of meat from pulling away from the rib-eye muscle and overcooking.
1 (7-pound; 3-rib) standing rib roast, trimmed and tied (see note)
Table salt and ground black pepper
1. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Cover the roast loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
2. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 250 degrees. Heat a large roasting pan over two burners set at medium-high heat until hot, about 4 minutes. Place the roast in the hot pan and cook on all sides until nicely browned and about 1/2 cup fat has rendered, 6 to 8 minutes.
3. Remove the roast from the pan. Set a wire rack in the pan, then set the roast on the rack.
4. Place the roast in the oven and roast until the meat registers 125 degrees on an instant-read thermometer for rare, 130 degrees for medium-rare, and 140 degrees for medium, 3 to 31/2 hours. Remove the roast from the oven and tent with foil. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the roast.
5. Remove the twine and set the roast on a carving board, with the rib bones at a 90-degree angle to the board. Carve and serve immediately.