Prime rib - please talk me off the ledge ;D

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For Med/Rare, i smoke at 200 °F to an IT of 115°F.
I rest 30 minutes on the counter, Naked.
( The Meat not Me!😊)
Meanwhile, I Preheat my Oven to 500°F.
I Sear no more than 10 minutes and rest again for 30 minutes and carve...JJ
Awesome- thanks!!!
Hey Everyone-

Read through the great prime rib threads here, thanks so much for the information! Have a couple of questions; but first my tale of woe. It’s a little long, really just intended to put a smile on your face and get a laugh at my expense.

First of all, this is a safe space right? I'm a complete newbie and what I'm about to share is a bit embarrassing, so go easy on the teasing!

So as I posted in my intro, purchased an Oklahoma Joe Highlander offset smoker a few weeks ago. Installed all of the basic mods I saw on you tube: lavalock gasket seal, silicone grommet on cold side for probes, clamps for each side of lid. Purchased a SS firebox basket, a Maverick XR-50 with 4 probes, and a tuning plate (though I'm not sure that's made a lick of difference, closest I've been able to do with temp equilibration is 30 degrees difference between firebox and cold side. Seems I can do that just as well without the plate).

So far I've done two 4-5 pound tri-tips (separate occasions), both coated with Sana Maria seasoning. Used Lump Charcoal and Applewood chunks. The first one came out pretty respectable. Found the sweet spot of 225⁰, 2.5 hours, got it to 125⁰ internal, took it off, seared it in the firebox side over the grate 5 minutes each side. Took off, wrapped in tight in foil, placed in small cooler for 20 minutes. Ended up being a little more medium then medium rare, and was told by a poster here it was due to the wrapping and resting in the cooler. Otherwise was still juicy and tasty (a tad bit smokier than I think it should have been- more on that below).

The second one followed all the same process, except coated in Worcestershire before the Santa Maria rub, used less Applewood throughout the cook time, and tented on counter for 20 minutes rather than the full wrap in the cooler. Medium rare, pretty tasty.

Here's where the tale of woe starts...

I've often heard about people doing prime rib for the holidays. We’ve always been a conventional “Turkey at Thanksgiving, Ham on Christmas” family. I’ve never done or had prime rib on a holiday. I’ve had it in a restaurant maybe 3 times in my entire 51 years. I like it, I just never think about it. To be completely honest I’ve never even noticed what they look like at a store or checked pricing. It’s pretty much a foreign cut of meat to me. Which is why I’m still not sure the impetus for waking up, calling a local meat market and saying “Hey, do you carry prime rib!?”

famous last words…

And yes, they carried prime rib, and the conversation I had with the butcher was awesome. I told him my set-up and what I was hoping to do, and he told me all about the meat and the cut and all kinds of “butchery” stuff. It was an education and I really enjoyed the conversation. He’s forgotten more about meats than I’ll ever know. This meat counter is in an old grocery store in a small town near Sacramento, built in the early 50’s. The type of place where nobody really shops for groceries anymore as time has simply passed it by- but the meat counter in back… oh man!

So I started getting excited, and based on our conversation I had him do a three bone cut (didn’t really know what that meant but it was his recommendation based on the number of people I’m having over and leaving enough for left overs), and he also said he would remove the bones and put them back in (I’ve read this is called cradling?), for an easier roasting/eating experience. “Great” said rosy cheeked wide-eyed I, “Let’s do it I’ll be down in 30 minutes!”

So I get to the store (it’s called Bing’s market, in Rio Linda Calif, if you’re in the area), walk to the back, and lo’ and behold… It’s right there in front of me in the case. This slab of what appears to be heaven. My jaw dropped, my heart skipped a beat. I was completely in awe. It was like a spot light shined on it with angelic voices singing “auwwwwwwwwwwwwwww”. I had no idea what “3 bone” meant, but it appears it must mean mastodon bones, because this thing is huh-uuuuuge. 10 pounds.

After another nice conversation with the butcher, he wrapped it, put a yellow sticky note on top (which I didn’t look at), and I headed to the register. Now keep in mind, at this point we’ve never discussed pricing. I didn’t think to ask (I guess I was thinking subconsciously it would be like the cost of a really good tri-tip). Remember how I said I’ve never even really seen a prime rib before and I’ve only had it in restaurants 3 or 4 times? Do you know where this is going?

I get to the register, hand it over, pull out my wallet and the register says “151.93”. As my brain froze for a second while it tried to re-discover what counting is, I then heard the checker say “That will be 151.93” but picture it more like a movie where the voice gets slow and low and it sounds more like “onnnnnnne fifteeeeee onnnnnnnne ninnnnnnnnntry threeeee” only two octaves lower. Like Santa in the Christmas Story movie when he goes “ho ho hoooooooe” before tapping Ralphie in the forehead with his foot.

So suddenly the angelic “auwwwwwwwwww” singing is replaced by hard core death metal while my lunch is deciding if it wants to come up and see the world again. Of course, externally I’m all about coolness. “Awesome, perfect” I hear myself say, nonchalantly like I buy prime rib once a week and am surprised it’s only 151.93, while inside I hear my soul making a ‘nails on chalkboard’ sound and my brain has now re-discovered counting and is screaming at me “What the - - - - did you just do?!?!”

I put the ATM card away and pull out the credit card (because if I don’t see it come out of my bank account that means its free), pause as if I’m considering purchasing a second one (you know… cool exterior and all), then pay for it and gingerly carry it to the passenger seat of the car, like it’s a box of new born kittens.

The ride home was quiet. No music, no news. Just me and my brain, which has not only re-discovered counting but is now very efficiently counting and asking me repeatedly “do you understand how much this cost? Do you realize??? 151.93! If you removed your shoes and counted on your fingers and toes, then mulitp…” That’s about the time I turned the radio back on.

So now I’m home, I lug this 10 pound slab in and place it in the fridge, moving all the condiments and milk in front of the damn thing so I don’t have to look at it… Because I swear it’s mocking me from inside. When I walk by I hear it from inside going “Steeeevie….. Steeeeeeeeeeeevie….” Then it giggles like something from the Haunting of Hill House.

So here’s where my questions come in.

I am totally freaked out about smoking this. I’m reading the great posts here, checking out recipes online, and taking deep breaths. I’ve figured out the slather I’m going to try (horseradish mustard, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, coarse ground salt and black pepper), I’m going to cross cut the fat layer before lathering it up, going to wrap in saran wrap overnight. Next day ,I’m going to get my grill to where I can find the 225⁰ sweet spot, then throw it on for 5 hours (10lbs/30minutes a pound right?), to take it to internal temp of 125⁰ for medium rare. Hopefully this is the right path.

First question- best way to get that external dark bark? With the tri-tip it was simply putting over the fire basket and searing each side for about 5 minutes each side. Do I try to do that with the rib?

I’ve also read another technique is to take it off at 125⁰, tent and rest for 30 minutes, take your smoker up to 400⁰, then throw the rib back on, take it off when internal is 135⁰.

I’d really like to master that bark. For the tri-tip, the searing worked “ok”. It was there, just not that really flavorful slightly crunchy layer.

Second question – I’m using applewood chunks. When/how much/how often should I be putting the chunks in? I know the answer is probably “to taste”, but I really don’t have a baseline taste yet. The first tri-tip, I put some wood on in the beginning while getting up to temp, then added some more halfway through, then added some more near the end of the roasting time. It was just ever a bit too much. But this is a 5 hour roast period, so I’m not sure what a good plan is.

I’m definitely going to be putting the roasting pan underneath with a few carrots and onions, and try my hand at the au jus after.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to read and for all the great tips I’m picking up here. I’m open to any and all suggestions. I’m really intimidated by this right now.
O my goodness. This is so funny and I can sooo relate!!! We bought 2, 7 bone in ribeyes today about18# each. They were on sale THANK GOD!!! We are serving the beef to some highly respected VIP's and I'm already a nervous wreck about ruining these beautiful hunks of meat. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.