Prime rib is one of the more intimidating cuts you'll cook. It's a large piece of meat, often expensive, and you'll want to cut ribeye steaks correctly. While purchasing a whole rib roast may seem daunting, you'll save a bit of money in the process and you'll end up with the best ribeye steaks. We're going to show you how to trim and cut a prime rib roast so you can carve your own ribeye steaks. We'll also give some tips for grilling the tastiest steaks on the planet.
Is Prime Rib and Ribeye the Same?
Both Prime Rib and Ribeye Steaks come from the same cut, the "primal" beef rib cut. While the two steaks seem similarly named, the biggest difference is in how you cut and cook them. If you go to your butcher and as for "prime rib", he may bring out a huge chunk of meat and ask if you want it whole (the answer is yes!) However, when you go to a steakhouse and order "Prime Rib" you are served a steak. So what gives?
The difference is that a prime rib steak is cut from a prime rib roast that has been cooked. When you order a ribeye steak, the butcher has cut that piece from the larger, uncooked standing rib roast. You'll find bone-in, boneless, and the extravagant looking tomahawk steak (which keeps at least five inches of rib bone attached like a handle for your next Flintstones-inspired get together).
Cutting Your Prime Rib Roasts into Ribeye Steaks
We love cooking a whole standing prime rib roast, especially in out Traeger Ironwood 885 smoker. The downside is that smoking a 15 pound prime rib roast takes all day. Sometimes all you want is a delicious steak that doesn't take a bunch of time to cook. Follow along and we will show you how to turn that monster hunk of meat into manageable steaks you can grill, smoke, or freeze.
Anatomy of a Standing Prime Rib Roast
Looking from the cut end, there are three distinct parts of the prime rib roast. In the center is a round or oval piece, and this is what is referred to as the "eye". Outside the eye is another layer that's called the lip. On top of the roast is the cap. There is a thick layer of fat on top of the cap.
Trimming Your Prime Rib Roast
Start by placing your prime rib roast on a clean cutting board. You'll want to have a very sharp knife, like the Victorinox boning knife we use at work and home. Prime rib is a fatty cut, and that's why it's so tasty and expensive. High-quality prime rib is nicely marbled with fat and tender to the touch. You can buy an untrimmed prime rib roast and have more control over the amount of excess fat on your roast.
Place the prime rib roast on the cutting board with the fatty side up. The thick area of fat is called a cap. Using your sharp knife, slice the excess fat cap off, leaving one-quarter to one-half inch. Try not to cut into the meat because you'll be cutting off flavor. When the prime rib cooks, the fat will create juiciness and lots of excellent beefy flavor. You don't want to remove too much when you are prepping for cutting steaks. Sometimes when you smoke a whole rib roast, you don't even trim the cap.
Next, flip the rib roast over to the bone side. There is probably a purplish membrane along the bones. Use the tip of your knife to work the edge of the silver skin up, grasp it in your fingers, and pull it loose. You might need to use the belly of your knife to help the skin off.
Cutting Ribeye Steaks
You have two options at this point: bone-in or boneless. There is a ton of debate about whether leaving the bones in or removing them makes a difference.
Removing the bones is easy to do and is the first step if you are planning on rolling the roast. To remove the rib bones, begin with the thin side up and insert your knife around halfway with the blade facing up. Slice along the bones until you cut through the thin end. Avoid jerking or sawing the knife – a sharp knife will cut with nothing more than pressure. Simply flip the knife over and repeat by cutting down until you hit the top rib. Follow the rib in an L-shape until you can cut the bones free. If your roast is longer than your knife, switch to the other side and repeat until the bones are out.
Rolling the Roast
Now that you have the bones loose, you have a sort of flat roast. Trim off any excess fat and simply roll the roast into a cylinder. Tie it with twine every few inches to keep it together. You can cook the ribeye roast roll whole or cut into portions for individual servings of ribeye steak.
Cutting your rib roast into bone-in steaks couldn't be easier. Simply decide how thick you are going to cut each piece and slice from the thin edge down to the top rib between the rib bones against the grain. If you cut between each bone, you'll end up with 8-10 thick-cut steaks from each rib roast. You may be able to buy a rib roast with the rib bones left intact. Use these for cutting tomahawk steaks which are perfect when you reverse sear on the grill or griddle.
Trimming a Rib Roast for Steaks and Ribs
When you look at the cross section of your rib roast, you can see where the muscles come together to produce the round steaks and the rib meat. You can use your boning knife to cut the round steaks from the ribs, giving you the best of both worlds. There's nothing quite like following up some barbecue ribs with a juicy ribeye steak.
How to Cook a Ribeye Steak
The high marbling content and tender texture of ribeye make it the ideal grilling and searing steak. It's considered blasphemous to cook a ribeye beyond medium, and most people would rather have a ribeye steak on the rare side of medium. we cook ribeye most often one of two ways – on the Big Green Egg or in cast iron skillet. Both cooking devices use the same method, reverse sear.
Reverse Searing for the Perfect Grilled Ribeye
Reverse searing is a common way to cook steak, and even though it sounds fancy, it's quite easy to do. Simply start with your grill or skillet at a medium temperature and cook your steak until you have an internal temperature around 115 degrees. Remove the steak and increase the temperature to high. Once the grill or griddle is ready, put the steak back on. Flip the steak after about three minutes and sear the other side. Once both sides have a nice sear bark on them, pull the ribeye steaks and let them rest for at least 15 minutes.
You can also reverse sear by cooking the steak in the oven, then searing in a pan.
It's understandable if you are intimidated by the idea of cutting a prime rib roast into steaks at home. The process is simpler than it sounds, and it's a great opportunity to show off your knife skills. While buying thick-cut ribeye steaks at the store might be prohibitively expensive, you can get lots of steaks out of one prime rib roast, often bringing your per-steak cost down to $4 or $5 each. You'll end up with better quality steaks when you cut them yourself because you get to select how much fat is left on and how thick the steak is going to be. Try reverse searing a steak on the grill or in a cast iron pan to enjoy this delicious cut.
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