Grilled Christmas Prime Rib

“Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer…” These familiar lyrics from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” bring to mind the emotions and memories of this precious time of year. Time with family and friends; a time of singing and feasting; an occasion for giving and praying; and for us barbecue enthusiasts, another opportunity for grilling and roasting. Make this Christmas dinner one to remember with Grilled Prime Rib, slow-roasted and smoked for over two hours.

Everybody loves prime rib, but it can be a bit expensive causing apprehension about possibly ruining such a “prime” cut of beef. However, the preparation is more time consuming than difficult, and by moving the main course cooking outside it can alleviate the indoor cooking demands in the kitchen. The roast is simply seasoned with garlic and a rub of salt, rosemary, and pepper. When finished, the prime rib is tender and juicy inside, surrounded by a smoky, salty crust. So fire up the grill, deck the halls with boughs of holly, and start a new Christmas tradition to share with loved ones.

Grilled Prime Rib Ingredients

  • Prime rib or standing rib roast (approx. 6lbs)
  • Hickory wood Chips (several cups to taste, soaked in water for 1 hour)
  • 15-20 garlic cloves, sliced into spears

Rub Ingredients

  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tsp onion salt
  • 2 tsp hickory-smoked salt
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp Canadian steak seasoning (optional)

Grilled Prime Rib Directions

  1. Prepare the roast – For bone-in rib roasts, traditional preparation calls for frenching, but is not required. The presentation is better this way, but the rendering of the extra fat during grilling can add flavor. Frenching: Cut the layer of fat covering the ends of the rib bones all the way to the bone. Upon reaching the bone twist the knife toward the end of the ribs and cut this section away and remove. Next trim the pieces of meat between the bones and retain. Should your prime rib have a heavy layer of fat you could remove that at this time, but you could also leave for extra flavor.
  2. Next, using a sharp knife, make slits about an inch apart and half inch deep over the prime rib. Insert slivers of sliced garlic cloves into each slit.
  3. Make the rub by combining rub ingredients in a bowl. Pat the rub into the entire surface area of the standing rib roast.
  4. Setup the grill – The grill is set up for the flank style of indirect grilling–coals on the left and right with the roast in the center. If using gas grill, use outside burners leaving the middle burners off. You want to achieve a cooking temp of 275-300 degrees. Several cups of hickory chips were soaked in water an hour or so before grilling and were added frequently during the grilling process. Adjust the amount of wood chips to your taste. You don’t want to overpower the meat but you are trying to achieve that special hickory smoked flavor into the standing rib roast. Other woods may be used such as mesquite (I’d leave the hickory-smoked salt out of the rub if you go this route).
  5. Cooking time for this 6 lb. standing rib roast will be approximately two to two and a half hours or until 135-140 degrees internal temperature in the deepest part of the cut if using a thermometer, which is still pretty rare, but upon resting the meat will continue to cook. Look for approximately 20-25 minutes per pound at 275-300 degree. Cooking time may vary depending on the heat efficiency of your grill and number of coals added.
  6. Remove roast from grill to cutting board to rest and cover/tent with aluminum foil. The aluminum foil keeps the heat in while the juices come to a rest. A roast this size needs between 10-15 minutes to rest properly.
  7. After resting, slice and serve. For smaller portions, remove rib bones, then slice and serve.

Taken from

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