Griller Diller gets into the holiday spirit.

NICK DILLER: Christmas prime rib

Great Barrington — One of the great traditions of Christmas is the meal with family. In my house growing up, the meal was centered around roast beef. As an adult, I have carried on that tradition and the choice is a rib roast.

I started cooking rib roasts in the oven but, 13 years ago, I took the cooking outdoors to the grill.

Grill roasting is different than oven roasting. The weather is a factor, especially the wind.

This prime rib recipe works well no matter what the weather. In cold weather you will need more fuel to maintain proper temperature, so make sure you have a full bag of charcoal and, if you’re cooking your rib roast on a gas grill, at least three-quarters of a tank of propane.

But no matter how your cook your roast, the preparation is the same. Your prep in the kitchen before taking it out to the grill and salt is one of keys to a juicy, tasty roast.

So find a spot that is shielded from the wind as close to your kitchen as possible. Just make sure you are 3 feet away from anything combustible and in a well-ventilated area, not in your garage, but just outside it.

Get your grill, fuel and all your tools and, if possible, a table and some sheet trays together.

Your most important tool will be an instant-read thermometer to monitor the cooking process.

Just remember that you do not have to remain out by your grill the entire cooking time. You only need to go out to put the roast on, monitor fuel consumption and to take the roast off when done.

Basically, the two main rules of grilling are knowing how to control the grilling temperature and knowing when the food is done.

And if you have questions, call me at (413) 528-2196.

Have a happy grilling holiday.

A freshly grilled rib roast rests.


Griller Diller’s way of cooking prime rib

I buy a three- or four-bone 6- to 8-pound rib roast three or four days in advance of grilling the roast. I have my butcher separate the bones from the meat and trim the roast up. He then packs the bones with the meat to bring home.

When I get the rib roast home from the market, I unwrap and separate the bones from the meat and trim the fat cap to 1/8 inch thick (if the butcher has not).

Then make a crosshatch of cuts in the fat cap, being careful not to cut too far into the meat. Then sprinkle 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of kosher salt over all sides of the meat, rubbing it into the meat. (depending on the roast size)

Then put the meat back on the bones and put the whole thing on a plate and refrigerate uncovered until ready to grill it (This can be done up to four days in advance).

On grilling day, I take the meat out of the fridge two hours before I’m going to cook it. I trim all the dry bits off (and there will be some), and then coat the meat all over with garlic oil (make it earlier by bringing 1/3 cup of oil to a boil and carefully adding three whole, peeled garlic cloves and boil for three minutes, then turn off the burner, cool completely and remove garlic. You do not want to burn the garlic).

Then sprinkle 2 to 3 teaspoons (depending on roast size) of coarse ground pepper all over.

Next, tie the bones back on the meat where the butcher had them.

While the roast is “prepping” on the counter, soak two wood chunks in water for two hours. I use cherry (but hickory, maple, apple or oak are fine).

A half hour before grilling, light a chimney starter full of charcoal and pour the lit coals on one side of the kettle grill to create an indirect two-zone fire.

On the cooler side of the grill, place a 9-by-13 drip pan.

Clean and oil the cooking grate.

Place rib roast over the cooler side of the grill above the drip pan with bones down-facing the fire.

Depending on ambient temperature, cook at a rate of 15 to 18 minutes per pound, or 30 minutes per inch of meat. If air temperatures are in the 20s to 40s, raise the cooking time to 18 to 20 minutes per pound.

After one hour, flip the beef over, but still keep the bones close to the fire and the meat facing away.

Use an instant-read thermometer. Cook beef until the internal temperature reaches 115 to 120.

Take the meat off the grill and take the bones off the meat and transfer roast to direct heat and sear on all sides, about another 10 minutes.

Then take the roast off the grill, and tent with foil and hold for up to 30 minutes.

You’re looking for a final temperature reading of 135 degrees. It serves two to three people per bone.


If you want more surface rub than just salt and pepper, try the rubs listed below

Prime Rib Rub

  • 4 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Yield: makes about 3/4 cup

Combine and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Mrs. O’Leary’s no-salt cow crust

  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Add olive oil or water