A tale of woe, limited success. and newbie questions.
Got my brand spankin' new Big Joe just before Christmas - and after a first cook of some chicken and burgers, I decide to swing for the fences on my second dance with my new backyard buddy. Prime Rib for my wife's birthday dinner.
Just because one owns a pair of running shoes doesn't mean you should go run a marathon - and in like fashion, I know that there's going to be a learning curve with using my new grill. Even knowing this, I took my knuckleheaded self to Costco to pick out the finest cut of meat that would truly christen the Big Joe, impress my wife, justify the amount of cash I spent on this thing, and bring about that manly satisfaction of playing with fire and smelling like charcoal.
My first wakeup call in this saga came when seeing the price tags on the roasts at Costco. I knew it wasn't going to be cheap, but frankly it's the first time I've purchased a really, really good piece of meat and I just wasn't ready to see $90 dollars. I was completely unprepared to make a discerning choice between all the options that lay before me, so I ended up just choosing a boneless rib roast with a label affixed perfectly and looked awful pretty.
Got home from Costco about 11 in the morning, and set the roast in a covered and defensible position in the kitchen (we have two Australian Shepherds, and they became quite interested in what I had brought home. They're smart, and would try the Jurassic Park Velociraptor routine to get at that hunk of meat if it were accessible). I went in and started to peruse these forums to get info on how to best cook this thing.
First thing - all the pictures and videos of other prime rib cooks all had them tied up and trussed. Even though this appears to be a common practice, I didn't do this because 1) The roast seemed to be pretty compact and didn't appear to need it, and 2) I didn't have any cotton string and would have had to steal the laces out of my daughter's soccer cleats. This leads to my first question - what's up with tieing up the roast? Should i have done this?
I seasoned the outside of the roast with the ubiquitous Montreal Steak Seasoning - seemed to be a safe choice (but I'm open to more seasoned suggestions). Returned the roast to its fortification (by now the dogs have enlisted the help of the cat to formulate a plan, but I'm one step ahead of them) and let it get to room temperature over the next couple of hours.
A few hours before dinner, I went out and started up the KJ. My plan was to slow cook it at 250°, and it was a breeze to get the grill up to that temp and have it stay solid. Having had to chase temperatures on other grills before, I was kinda thinking that the dome thermometer might be broken - but nope. Checked the temp with a Maverick, and it was right at 248. This thing is an amazing piece of equipment. I'm in love.
I chose to do a grill set up that had a deflector on half and a grill grate above that to cook the roast. I had the other half with no deflector and a grill grate in the lower position, ready to do a high temp sear once I get the internal temp up. It seemed to work well, but it only took a couple of hours or so before the roast got to an internal temp of 115 - so that leads to another question. Should a prime rib roast get cooked at a lower temp?
Couple hours later, the roast gets up to 115°. Pull it off, set it to rest while i open up the bottom and top so the KJ can get up to 500°. I had read that this is a great way to get that external "crust" on the prime rib. What I didn't read, however, was where to put the roast in the grill once getting it up to a higher temperature.
If this long post accomplishes anything, I hope that it will serve as a warning to all prime rib newbies like me to NOT PUT THE ROAST DIRECTLY OVER THE FIRE IN THE LOWER GRILL POSITION. Yes, I'm thinking that indirect placement is best, that way you can avoid the inferno of flames that erupted within five minutes of putting the roast back on the grill.
My first indication that something was wrong was by noticing the neon orange lights emitting from the lower vent, a sure indication of fire. I slowly and carefully opened the KJ, only to find my precious $90 prime rib roast bathed in the flames of Mt. Vesuvius. I kinda panicked, quickly trying to move the roast over to the indirect heat - but in my haste, I forgot that the roast had the temp probe attached to the Maverick. The quick movement of me getting the roast over to the relative safety of the indirect cook pulled the Maverick monitor right on to the lower grate in the harm of hades-level temp. It was only on the grate for about a tenth of a second - amazing how quick you can move when you are motivated by the fear of explaining these events to the warranty department.
Anyway, not much damage to the roast. A bit too crusty on the bottom, but I let it continue to cook indirect at 500° until the IT was around 125. Pulled it off, let it rest.
In the end, the roast tasted fine. Not amazing, but better than okay. My wife was happy that I didn't burn down the backyard, and the Maverick somehow came away unscathed. It will be a while before I attempt this again, but in preparation for the next effort - here are a few questions:
1) What's up with tying up the roast? Do you need to do that for a boneless roast?
2) Should a prime rib be cooked at a temp between 200-225 (instead of 250)?
3) What's a better rub/seasoning? Should I venture out and make my own?