Prime rib is expensive, so you want to be sure you get the best meat for your dollar. You’ll find it sold two ways: bone in, or boneless. We prefer the bone-in roasts as they taste better. They also make a slightly more impressive table presentation. Boneless roasts cook a little faster, so keep that in mind as it’s roasting.
Look for a roast with a layer of creamy white fat on the top. You’re going to roast your beast fat-side up, so the fat bastes the meat as it melts. The roast should be tied (though you can do this yourself at home) to keep its nice, plump shape as it cooks. The flesh should be bright red and the fat should be firm and white. Look for good marbling, if you can find it. Marbling = those skinny little strips of white fat shot through the meat. Most of it will melt as the meat roasts, contributing rich, and beefy flavor.
The USDA grades of beef include:
1. Prime–This accounts for less than 2% of the beef produced in the US. The quality is measured by the amount of marbling which gives the flavor and tenderness, and the age of the animal, which accounts for the texture of the meat. It’s usually purchased by upscale restaurants and isn’t readily available to the aver-age consumer.
2. Choice–This is the second highest grade of beef. It will have lees marbling than Prime, but if taken from the more desirable areas of the animal, such as the loin and rib section, could very closely equal the quality of Prime cuts.
3. Select–This accounts for most of the meat found in the grocery stores. It will have much less in the way of marbling and will come from older animals. It is not nearly as tender as choice or above, and is therefore much less desirable as a meat cut.