I love serving smoked prime rib at Christmas time and this one turned out just amazing! Smoked low and slow for about 5 hours with pecan wood to a perfect medium rare and then sliced thick and served to my salivating guests.
Because time is such a commodity, I always ask the butcher to prep the prime rib for me. They will either remove the bones completely or just barely leave them hanging on. The bones are then put back into place and the prime rib is tied up.
This makes for a nicer presentation in my opinion.
I usually have them french the bones as well which is just a fancy way of saying the meat/fat between the bones is removed so that the bones are sticking out all on their own. It tends to look more elegant that way.. or so I am told.
Here's what it looks like if you “french” the bones.
This is not a difficult thing to do but if your butcher will do it, let him.
As usual, I like to add a little something to help the seasoning to stick. There's nothing worse than seasoning an entire roast only to watch half of it fall off when it's moved.
Use a little olive or vegetable oil on the meat. Pour it onto the meat then use a silicone brush to spread it out.
I recommend my Texas style rub recipe on this cut of meat. I have used the original rub very successfully as well but most folks seem to enjoy the more savory aspect of the Texas style rub recipe on this robust piece of beef.
Once it's oiled up, just sprinkle the seasoning generously on all sides. Don't forget the ends.
(Purchase formula for Texas style rub here | Purchase bottled rub)
Set up the smoker for cooking at about 225 °F using indirect heat. If your smoker has a water pan, then fill it up.
You can use ANY smoker to cook this successfully as long as you maintain a proper temperature and do NOT overcook it.
I received a Pit Barrel Cooker back in 2018 and it does a phenomenal job on prime rib! I have enjoyed cooking some amazing ribs and an awesome holiday turkey in it recently.
Place the prime rib directly on the smoker grate or you can leave it on the Bradley rack or Weber grill pan if that is what you are using.
If you are using a smoker which requires wood chips or chunks to be added for smoke, I recommend keeping a light smoke going for at least 3 hours. You can then finish cooking with just heat. Pecan works great but a few more of my favorites such as mesquite, hickory, oak, or cherry will also yield excellent results.
As you can see, it's very easy to get a prime rib ready to cook.. the most important part of the process, monitoring the temperature, starts after you place it on the smoker grate.
I use the Thermoworks “Smoke” thermometer to make sure the meat is monitored while it cooks. This is the best leave-in, digital remote, dual probe thermometer on the market in my humble opinion and if you are serious about smoking meat and want a tough, durable thermometer that will last a very long time, then you need to look into getting one of these very soon! You will love it!
Why is temperature so important? Unlike brisket and many other beef cuts that we cook in the smoker, the prime rib is at it's best at medium rare and this occurs at about 135°F. Some folks like it a little more done than this and that is fine if you must.
Remove it at 130°F and the carryover cooking will bring it on up to a perfect 135°F while it rests on the counter.
The slices on the end tend to get a little more done than the slices in the middle so those can also be reserved for those who like it a little more done.
Tent the meat with foil for just a few minutes once it's done to let the juices settle down a bit.
You can expect the cooking time to be around 5 hours but be sure to let temperature be your only guide for determining when the roast is actually done.
Cut the strings that you used to tie up the rib roast and remove the rack of bones. These are probably pretty spare on meat but I like to gnaw on them and make sure.
Slice the roast into ½ to ¾ inch slices and lay the pieces on a fancy serving platter.
Call dinner and enjoy!