Prime rib is and perhaps always will be the king of holiday roasts. There is nothing so primal, so celebratory, so downright majestic as a hunk of well-marbled beef, served medium rare on the bone, with a crackling, well-browned exterior.
If you want to get straight into the action, there are only a few things you need to know.
Start with bone-in, well-marbled beef. Bones don't add flavor, but they do regulate temperature, increasing the amount of tender, medium-rare beef you'll get in your finished roast. And, of course, you get to gnaw on those bones when you're done. Marbling is intramuscular fat that appears as a white, spiderweb-like pattern within the meat. The more marbling, the richer and tenderer your beef will be. Though most guides recommend a pound per person when you're shopping for prime rib, this is for very hungry eaters: In reality, you'll most likely get away with three-quarters of a pound per person, or about one rib for every three people.
Season it well, and season it early if you've got the time. Prime rib has plenty of flavor on its own, so there's no real need to add much more than a good heavy sprinkling of salt and pepper. If you're able to plan ahead, it's best to season your prime rib with salt at least the day before, and up to four days ahead of roasting, letting it sit on a rack in your fridge uncovered. This will allow time for the salt to penetrate and season more deeply while also drying out the surface, which will lead to better browning during roasting.
Start it in a very low oven. Here's where the "reverse sear" part kicks in. Start your prime rib in a very low-temperature oven (200 to 275°F), let it reach about 125°F for medium rare, (or about 30 minutes) remove it and let it rest while you crank the oven up to its maximum setting, then set the beef back inside for 8 minutes to crisp up the exterior. The result is prime rib that is so much more juicier and tender, with a crisp, rich crust and the maximum of the rosy interior.
Try cooking it a little more than you think you should. I personally believe that well-marbled prime rib is at its best when it's cooked to at least medium rare, and preferably medium. Rare is great for lean cuts like tenderloin, which tend to get dry at higher temperatures, but for fatty, well-marbled cuts, you want to cook them at least to the point where the fat will start to soften and render, delivering flavor and juiciness to your mouth. And if you know me you know that usually I like my steak red and almost mooing. I went too far didn't I? PLEASE don't become a vegan! I'm sorry :(