Today we’re preparing a prime rib prepared with a curry and cayenne-based rub, that cooks up with a crisped exterior, and juicy, tender, interior.
Ingredient Notes, Tips, and Substitutions
1) Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil? The rule of thumb is this – olive oil gives superior flavor and health benefits, but ‘only’ when cooking at lower temperatures of no more than around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or when barbecuing over ‘gentle’ flames. Use vegetable oil for pretty much everything else. The reason is that most olive oils have a relatively low ‘smoke point,’ which is the temperature at which the olive oil begins to burn away, giving your food a rancid taste and sapping its nutrients. Curiously, the lower the quality your olive oil, the ‘higher’ its smoke point. In fact, ‘Light’ olive oil actually has a higher smoke point than vegetable oil, while Extra Virgin Cold Pressed olive oil will start burn away at merely a ‘low simmer.’
2) Jamaican Curry Uses. Jamaican curry loves protein-heavy dishes. It melds beautifully into meaty recipes such as chilis and meat stews, as well as things like roasted chicken – for example it’s the star of the ever popular ‘Jerk Chicken.’ It loves low and slow roasting, such as think hinds of pork, and also does great over roaring barbecues and fire pits. For reference, the primary flavor in Jamaican curry is allspice, along with a decent amount of thyme. And before you ask, ‘no’ – Jamaican Curry has nothing in common with Indian or Thai Curry, since neither allspice nor thyme feature in Indian cuisine, while the flavor of Thai curries range from tangy to searing hot, whereas Jamaican curry is more ‘warming’ and ‘earthy,’ similar to chili powder.
3) Jamaican Curry Substitutes: There are several good substitutes for Jamaican Curry. First and foremost is to simply make your own, which you can do by combining dried thyme, allspice, turmeric, whole or ground anise seeds, whole or ground mustard seed, and ground cumin. Use these in roughly equal amounts, with a slight bit more of thyme and allspice than the other ingredients (as mentioned above). Be creative and experiment, as no two Jamaican curry powders are exactly the same. The next best substitute is ‘standard’ curry powder, preferably a milder variety. Finally, you might consider a simple balancing act of chili powder, cayenne, thyme, and allspice. Again, experimentation is key, as is tasting the spice mixture as you go to find your own preference.
4) Coriander Substitution. Cilantro. Cilantro and Coriander actually come from the same plant – dubbed “Coriandrum sativum.” Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant, while ‘cilantro’ are the leaves. Fun fact: The entirety of the plant is edible and flavorful. Coriander root, for example, is popular in some areas. That said, dried cilantro substitutes just fine on a one-to-one basis for coriander. Equal parts cumin and parsley also make for decent, if slightly ‘inexact’ substitute.
5) Cumin – A Brief Overview. Unlike cayenne, turmeric, black or red pepper, or really any ‘common’ spice one might think of, cumin is rarely if ever used on its own or as the ‘primary’ flavor in a recipe – there are exceptions. However, being somewhat bitter, earthy, and nutty all at once, cumin isn’t immediately inviting or even terribly ‘palatable’ by itself. Nevertheless, it makes a great ‘grounding’ flavor or ‘background’ for spice blends, such as rubs, curries, and marinades, pairing particularly well with meaty dishes, shining in things like curry, chili, and rubs for steaks, chops, and roasts.
Rub vs Marinade – Which for When
The conventional wisdom is that a ‘marinade’ tenderizes meat, while also imbuing it with flavor. Dry rubbing does not tenderize meat, instead merely ‘coating’ or ‘crusting’ the meat in flavor, while also typically affording it with some ‘crunch’ or ‘texture’ on the exterior.
Neither is ‘better.’ Instead, they are simply ‘different,’ with both having appropriate applications where they outshine one another.
For rubs, the words of Michael Symon come to mind, and I paraphrase, “Sometimes you really just want the meat to shine on its own,” which is more or less the case he makes throughout his book “Playing With Fire.” That’s where dry rubs, oil-based rubs, and non-marinating wet rubs come into play. With these, you’re more or less leaving the interior of the meat intact and un-tenderized, while the majority of the rub’s flavor essentially sits crusted on the exterior of the meat. That’s what I wanted for today’s prime rib, and that’s why I opted for an oil-based rub.
On the other hand, for things like steaks, chops, or tenderloins, where you might want to tenderize the former while playing into natural tenderness and juiciness of the latter, marinades might be preferable.
Dry Rub Variations
For today’s rub, all you’ll need is a small bowl and super simple ingredients. For me, this has to be the best prime rib rub recipe, and one that I’ve used many times when preparing dinners for special occasions.
However, there are some key variations that I think are worth mentioning. And that’s what we’re going to talk about here.
Now, let’s talk about variations on today’s prime rib seasoning, while exploring some homemade seasoning blends that can cater to every palate.
- Classic Fresh Herb Rub:
- For a good rub made of fresh herbs, consider combining rosemary, thyme, and parsley with fresh garlic, coarse kosher salt, and black pepper. Be sure to rub this thoroughly over the fat side of the roast, and try to get as much of it as possible between the creases. You want the juices of the fresh herbs to permeate the meat as much as possible.
- Spicy Rub:
- Add a kick to your roast with spicy ingredients like hot paprika, cayenne pepper (as we’re doing in today’s rub), chili powder, or red pepper flakes. Adjust the level of spiciness to suit your taste.
- Coffee and Cocoa Rub:
- One of my favorites. A rub with coffee grounds and cocoa powder creates a unique, smoky, and slightly ‘chocolatey’ flavor profile. It complements the beef's richness and adds early depth. I really do suggest learning to incorporate coffee into your favorite beef recipes.
- Mustard and Herb Rub:
- A true classic. Combine Dijon mustard with herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage. The mustard not only adds flavor but also helps the rub adhere to the meat.
- Asian-Inspired Rub:
- Create an Asian-inspired rub by blending ingredients like soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and five-spice powder. This brings an exotic twist to your prime rib.
- Smoky Paprika Rub:
- Smoked paprika adds a distinct smokiness to the rub. Pair it with garlic, onion powder, and a touch of brown sugar for a balanced, smoky-sweet flavor.
- Maple and Bourbon Rub:
- For a sweet and savory rub, combine maple syrup, bourbon, brown sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon. It creates a delightful, slightly caramelized crust on the roast.
- Herb and Garlic Butter Rub:
- Incorporate softened butter into the rub, along with herbs and garlic. This forms a rich, flavorful paste that adheres well to the meat and keeps it moist.
Recommended Internal Temperature for Prime Rib
In a word, ‘preference.’
The recommended internal temperature for a prime rib roast can vary depending on your desired level of doneness. With that said, there are ‘temperature ranges’ that determine whether a roast is rare or well done. This range of temperature runs all the way from 120 degrees f (extra rare) up to 160 degrees f or more (well done).
With that in mind, here are the general guidelines for internal temperatures:
- Rare: 120-125°F (49-52°C)
- The center will be bright red, and the meat will be very juicy. This is often preferred by those who enjoy their beef on the rare side.
- Medium Rare: 130-135°F (54-57°C)
- The center will be pink and slightly red, with a warm and juicy interior. This is a popular choice for prime rib.
- Medium: 140-145°F (60-63°C)
- The center will be pink, with slightly less pink and more brown towards the edges. The meat will be juicy.
- Medium Well: 150-155°F (66-68°C)
- The center will have a hint of pink, but the meat will be mostly gray and less juicy.
- Well Done: 160°F (71°C) and above
- The meat will be fully brown, with no pinkness. It will be drier compared to the other doneness levels.
Keep in mind that when cooking a prime rib roast, it's advisable to aim for an internal temperature that is a few degrees lower – yes, lower – than your desired final temperature. This is because the roast will continue to cook as it rests, a step known as "carryover cooking."
When you remove the roast from the oven, tent it with foil and allow it to rest for about 15-20 minutes. During this time, the internal temperature will rise a bit, so it will reach your desired level of doneness.
This resting period will also ensure that the roast’s juices redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring even flavor and juiciness. If you cut the meat immediately, not only with this disrupt the carryover cooking, but it will quite literally drain the meat of its moisture. Not good.Print
Tips for Success – Getting the Most out of your Roast
While we’re talking about cooking a bone-in prime rib, all of these tips apply if you’re making a boneless rib roast as well. These tips would also apply to something like a rack of lamb, beef roast, an entire roast pork shoulder, or standing rib roast. Basically, any roast you might be serving for Christmas dinner.
With that said, here are some tips to help you achieve a delicious and perfectly cooked roast:
- Select a Quality Roast:
- As always, the first step is starting with a prime grade, high-quality bone-in prime rib roast from a reputable butcher or supplier. Look for well-marbled meat with a good fat cap, which enhances flavor and tenderness.
- Plan Ahead:
- Remove the roast from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 1-2 hours before roasting. This promotes even cooking.
- Season Generously:
- Season the roast liberally with a flavorful dry rub or a combination of herbs, garlic, and spices. A rub enhances the roast's taste and forms a delightful crust.
- Use a Meat Thermometer:
- Invest in a good meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the roast without touching the bone. This ensures accurate temperature monitoring.
- Preheat the Oven:
- Preheat your oven to a high temperature, usually around 450-500°F (230-260°C). This initial high heat sears the exterior and locks in juices.
- Start with High Heat:
- Place the roast in the preheated oven for about 15-30 minutes to create a seared, flavorful crust. This method is known as "reverse searing."
- Reduce the Temperature:
- After the initial high-heat sear, reduce the oven temperature to around 325-350°F (160-180°C). Continue roasting until the roast reaches your desired internal temperature. More on this below.
- Calculate Cooking Time:
- A general guideline for cooking time is about 17-20 minutes per pound, but use a meat thermometer to gauge doneness accurately. The internal temperature should be 5-10°F (3-5°C) lower than your desired final temperature.
- Carve Carefully:
- When carving the roast, follow the bone's contours to achieve even and neat slices. A sharp carving knife is essential.
- Au Jus or Gravy:
- Use the pan drippings to create a delicious prime rib au jus or gravy to accompany your prime rib. See my Au Jus recipe.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your bone-in prime rib roast turns out perfectly cooked, flavorful, and tender every single time.4