How to Select A Prime Rib Roast

Prime Rib on Rotisserie
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Shopping for prime rib can sometimes feel like shopping for a car—everything looks good on the lot but how do you know what you’re taking home isn’t a dud? We’ve come up with simple tips to make sure the roast you drive off the lot gets you your money’s worth.

Boneless Rib Roast versus Bone-In Rib Roast:

  • Boneless rib roasts are easier to find, cook faster and you get a nice even crust all the way around the roast.
  • Bone-in rib roasts make for a better presentation, generally make for a juicier roast and you get to have the beef ribs. But it will cost a little more and take a little longer to cook.

What to Look For:

  • Look for a beef rib roast that has a deep red color, even marbling and a 1/4- to 1/2-inch fat cap on the top.
  • “Prime rib” refers to the primal cut, not the USDA grade – so you can get a “prime rib” that is other grades than prime, such as choice or select. I like to stick with prime or choice grades.
  • If you have a good butcher, ask for the “first cut.” This is cut from ribs nine through 12, which is where you get the tenderest beef and the best ribeye steaks. For bone-in rib roasts, ask the butcher to cut the bones off, or almost all of the way off, and tie the roast back together with the bones.
  • If no butcher is available and you are just picking from the meat counter, look for one that has a well-defined “ribeye” – that will be from the “first cut” as noted above.

How Much To Buy:

  • For boneless rib roasts, plan on 1/2 pounds of beef per guest.
  • For bone-in rib roasts, you’ll need about 3/4 pounds per guest.

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