The rub I used for this is basically the following: add a good bit of kosher salt and a good bit of black pepper evenly all over the rib eye roast. Let the roast sit while you prepare the cooker. This was a really gorgeous bone in roast.
When you are cooking a big roast like this on a smoker or a drum type cooker, I think it is best to cook via the internal temperature of the meat, rather than focus on the cook time. In other words, you can't say something like "350 degrees for 1 hour." I like to cook it until the internal temperature is about 125-132 degrees F and then let the roast rest. When the roast reaches this internal temperature, it is done. This will result in a nice medium/medium rare. The exact time will depend on how hot your grill/smoker will get, how big your roast is, and how cold the roast is when it hits the smoker. From my experience, a roast like this will cook perfectly in the 350-475 degree F range, which is high heat according to a typical smoker. The Pit Barrel is usually a set and forget type cooker, but if you know me you know that I can't leave well enough alone. Just like an Ugly Drum Smoker, you can add more initial lit charcoal to the Pit Barrel Cooker and the result will be a hotter cook. Cooking on drum smokers is all about the ratio of lit to unlit coal, so if you tip the ratio a bit more towards the lit side, you will have a hotter heat. For this cook I had about 35 flaming coals, lit in a charcoal chimney, that I added into the bottom of the Pit Barrel Cooker. The charcoal basket was full of unlit Kingsford charcoal. This method took me into the 400 degree range (I tested the temperature of the cooker with various probes I had placed).
I started out the cook with the bone side down, sitting the roast directly on the grate that is provided with the Pit Barrel Cooker. Unlike cooking ribs on the Pit Barrel Cooker, I didn't see a cooking benefit to hanging a small roast like this. I only had one roast going on and space wasn't an issue. Midway during the cook I flipped the roast over, which helped give it a nice crust.
It took about 1.5 hours to get to 125 degrees internal temperature. Some portions of the roast were about 133 and other deeper internal locations were in the 120s. This was perfect. I took the roast inside and wrapped it in foil for about 15 min. This was the longest 15 minutes of my life. After the rest, I sliced in between the bones which resulted in 4 big 1 inch slices of prime rib.
This was the juiciest and most tender piece of beef that I've ever eaten (other than a smoked BBQ brisket, of course). This was a nicely marbled roast and I seasoned it well with salt and pepper. The best part of cooking a large roast directly over the coals is that there is a unique smoky flavor that gets added to the meat from the process of the fats dripping right over the fire. An amazing meal for sure! This would be perfect for a Christmas or Easter Prime Rib meal.
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By John Thomas
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