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Grilled Prime Rib for Christmas (or New Year, or...)

Friend, emerge from the elements with a majestic prime rib and your absence will be forgotten in a flash. This is truly the perfect crime.
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There is absolutely, positively no reason to mothball the grill over the colder holidays. In fact if you're a grill chef you already know that enduring a little inclement weather - sometimes even a blizzard - is worth it for quality time by the grill. Quiet, away-from-family time. But can you get away with it this time of year?

Friend, emerge from the elements with a majestic prime rib and your absence will be forgotten in a flash. This is truly the perfect crime.

Search out a well marbled rib roast. Ideally it will have a fat layer all the way around, and thicker is better. After an hour or two on the grill, basted with butter and drippings, this covering forms a crust that can only be described as fat candy. Don't let the butcher take it from you.


Cut the bones apart. Each steak should be 2-3" thick. Do your best to cut them to the same thickness. If some are significantly thinner you'll need to place these in the center of the soon-to-be reassembled roast.


Season each steak, all over, with sea salt. Use more salt than you think you should - to the point of wondering whether you're ruining dinner. The basting juices flowing over and out of these thick cuts will eventually take much of the salt away.

Do the same with minced or chopped garlic. Don't crush the fresh stuff for this - it easily becomes overpowering in the amounts required to coat the roast's surfaces.


Allow the ribs to rise fully to room temperature. Relaxed meat absorbs seasonings more readily and has the best chance of coming off the grill butter-knife tender.

Reassemble the roast, optionally sliding a sprig of fresh rosemary between the steaks. Alternate the long bones. The finished product will be stable on the grill and expose more edge area to the heat, adding to your priceless crust supply. Pin it all together with long metal skewers.


Prepare a moderate fire in the grill. If yours [tragically] does not collect juices for use in basting , melt a stick or more of butter to keep your creation moist over the course of cooking. Every surface should be gleaming with juice at all times.

Place the roast on the grill bone side down. A six pound, three rib roast will need about 45 minutes on the bone side. Leave it motionless and you'll foster a more dramatic crust at the grill contact point. Move it around and the crust will be subtler and even. Suit your taste. As the meat cooks it will shrink, leaving growing gaps between the steaks. Don't close these. Instead let the heat get in there while you baste actively into the spaces. Watch the end steaks for juices bubbling out above the bones. Once you see the sizzle moving up, more than 1/4" into the meat, it's time to turn the ensemble over.


Using a mitt, lift the long ends of your skewers up and over. Fat candy time. By now butter and juices have readied the outermost layer for a finishing brown. Grill top-down for 25 minutes, basting heavily to re-moisten the upturned bone side.

Monitor carefully - when the center of the outer steaks begin to firm, cut into the middle and look for the uniform, juicy pink color that makes prime rib so photogenic.


Remove the skewers and allow the ribs to rest for 10 minutes on a serving tray.


If any of your creation survives Christmas dinner, the roast beef leftovers will power you through a few more days of quality time with family. Promise.

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