Prime rib has been a centerpiece at dinner tables for centuries. When cooked correctly, this cut of beef is very tender and tasty, making it one of the most requested and one of the more expensive cuts of beef. Especially popular for holiday meals, prime rib can be cooked, cut and served in a variety of ways. Each section of rib has different characteristics and variations on the ratio of meat and bone. Cookbook author Linda Stradley recommends only cooking prime rib with the bones still attached for full-flavored meat.
Prime Rib Roast
A prime rib roast typically contains seven ribs, starting from the shoulder down to the loin. This is also called a standing roast. This cut weighs about 15 lbs. and can feed a dozen or more people, though you can get a smaller roast if needed. To figure out how large your roast should be to feed all your guests, figure two people per rib. For example, you would need a four-rib roast to feed eight people. Anything less than three ribs is really just a thick steak and isn't considered a roast.
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The first cut, also called the loin end or small end, is the back of the section of ribs and has leaner meat and smaller bones. This gives you more meat for your money. The meat and bones get larger as you move toward the shoulder, as does the fat content.
Shoulder End Cut
This cut is at the front of the rib section, near the shoulder. It is the larger side of the prime rib, with bigger sections of meat. This cut also has bigger bones and more fat and sinew.
A rolled prime rib roast does not have any bones. While many cooks agree that the meat doesn't taste as good as when cooked with the bones on, many find that a boneless rib roast is easier to handle, cut and serve.
Prime Rib Steak
This is a single-serving of prime rib with the bone attached, which many steak lovers consider to be the best cut. This beef steak is cut from ribs six through 12. It has some gristle and fat, but is very tender and flavorful.
This rib steak is boneless. It has a lot of flavor and is prized for its marbling.