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Parboiling Baby Back Ribs???

  • j

I've been grilling ribs this summer (nice meaty ones from Costco, marinated for 24-28 hours) over low heat, uncovered for 60-90 minutes. They've come out perfectly. The meat doesn't fall off the bones, but the bones can easily be picked completely clean.

A friend, however, insists that parboiling is a must.

This seems unneccesary.



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  1. Most professionals don't just grill ribs, although it seems like you are getting good results without.

    I read somewhere that the parboiling removes flavor from the ribs. I'm sure this is a topic for debate.

    I think the best ribs are pre-baked. 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes before cooking. Cover the roasting pan. Finish on the grill.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Gary Rolin

      I too pre bake, but I do it for 2 1/2 hours @ 250 degrees, then on the grill to finish.

      1. re: hm

        Yep, put me in the pre-bake crowd: spice-rubbed, very low, slow and covered, finish on grill with chosen barbeque sauce...that's how we do our baby-backs.

        1. re: Val

          Us too. so, so tender and delicious.

          1. re: bayoucook

            And yet another who does this method. I've made a ton of ribs in my time and have had the most success this way.

        2. re: hm

          That's exactly what I do. But, even before I put them in the oven, I remove the membrane that's over the bone side of the ribs, I "dock" them by poking a fork several times between each of the ribs, I coat both sides with a dry rub, cover the pan with foil, and let them sit for an hour at room temp.

        3. re: Gary Rolin

          Pre-baking in a covered pan at various temps and times has worked the best for us so far, on all types of ribs! After review and trying may suggestions from this thread…this is the one we settled on, regardless on the type of grill used afterwards! Thanks

        4. Parboiling ribs is in every old cookbook that touches on the subject. It is a method to cook ribs faster while allowing them to come out tender. It also robs you of flavor - but then again these recipes were written for spare ribs which have lots of flavor.

          The post's subject was baby back ribs. These can be grilled straight away without marinating or any other tenderizing. Not that I'm in any way saying don't marinate, I'm just pointing this out. Unlike spare ribs which need low and slow, baby backs are more versatile in how they can be prepared.

          6 Replies
          1. re: muD

            Actually, I buy the same ribs at Costco and they're spares, not babybacks.
            While I use a water smoker for mine, there's no reason grilled ones can't be great, as you've demonstrated. Parboiling is totally unnecessary and evil unless you're really crunched for time. If that is the case, you should be making somethign else.

            1. re: dude
              Jon Leventhal

              They have two types of ribs: spare and baby backs. Spare are about $1.00 cheaper per pound. I've yet to try em.


              1. re: Jon Leventhal

                I've had nothing but success with Costco's babybacks. I *do* take the time to closely examine all packages in the case to get the best-looking rack(s) they have.

                1. re: TomSwift

                  Just be sure not to mumble "nice rack" when making your selection. Causes trouble and misunderstanding, I've found...

                2. re: Jon Leventhal

                  Try 'em - you'll never go back. Much more and better flavor.

                  1. re: Sandy
                    Jon Leventhal

                    Agree...however, picky wife and finicky daughter eliminates possibility.


            2. Parboiling any meat is a crime against humanity, ranking right up there with accordions, "reality" tv and karaoke.

              Here's some advice for your friend: boil your ribs, go to jail.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Chris G.

                I sure don't agrree with you on accordians. Any good 'que man should dig zydeco. Enough said on that subject. However, boiling ribs is blasphemy! If you don't have time to cook them, grill a hamburger or get a carryout. Do NOT ruin good meat! Back ribs can be grilled, longer time than a steak, but not necessary to smoke for hours.

                1. re: jcbroder

                  jfood saw the Z-man at jazzfest a few years ago...what a hoot.

              2. Jon, if there's one thing I have strong opinions on, it's ribs.
                First off, I would never boil them. You'd be making pork soup then using the remains as your main course. I doubt if you make chicken soup then throw the flavorless carcass on the grill when you're done.
                Second, properly BBQ'd ribs are not supposed to "fall off the bone". That's one of those expressions people seem to throw out there as if it was a desirable quality, but it really isn't. You should, however, be able to pull the meat off the bone with only moderate resistance.
                It sounds like yours are pretty good, but try smoking (BBQing) them some time instead of grilling. Cover and cook indirectly over a low heat (230-250) for about 5 hours, can take up to 6 sometimes. If you don't have a charcoal grile or a smoker, then at least get some wood chips for your gas grill.

                7 Replies
                1. re: AlanH
                  Jon Leventhal

                  House we bought has a built-in Firemagic grill...its pretty good, but doesn't have a cover, so smoking is not an option.

                  Yeah...if I want fall off the bone ribs, I'll go to Houston's (which I like, BTW).


                  PS. The CostCo ribs usually have a much-thicker end (about 3-4 ribs). Should I cut that section off and cook separately. I find they take MUCH longer to cook.

                  1. re: Jon Leventhal

                    Depends on what you want to do. Some cut them off for burnt ends, some leave them on. I do either, depending on how many racks I'm cooking. FWIW, there are generally 13 ribs to a rack (spares). I tend to pull the membrane (the thin one only, not the whole membrane), chop into 3 sections (or two if you cut off the last 3ish ribs St. Louis style), rub with a mixture of spices and brown sugar, leave in fridge 24 hours, then throw into rib racks, then move to a preheated smoker. Add beer to the cooker (me) somewhere in there and during the entire multi-hour process. I tend to keep my smoker b/w 200-225, but some people do go a little higher. I've always done well with the BJ's/Costco ribs. There are better ribs (and lots more expensive) but I am ok with the cost/value ratio.

                    Regarding parboiling, yikes, I might lose my friends that way. I only did that once, 5 years ago before I had a smoker and when the grill was on the fritz. Even then, I gave my guests ample warning. Bland.


                    1. re: Jon Leventhal

                      Baby back , the more expensive, less fat cut, no boiling necessary. Cheaper fat laden cuts, boil to get rid rid of fat, then less flare ups on BBQ, and cooking time shorter, as glaze is added on the grill, and flavor is great, no flareups.

                    2. re: AlanH

                      I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendation to cook ribs with smoke and indirect heat. But purely for the sake of counterpoint, some people, especially East Texas bbq masters, consider ribs with meat that "falls off the bone" perfectly desirable. Check out what esteemed 'cue conoisseur Robb Walsh has to say about Drexler's in the link below.

                      I know that certain organizations have set up specific guidelines for "proper" bbq in competitions, but their stipulations don't always take into account the plethora of regional variations, which can vary significantly within a region as well. Even Texans can't seem to agree what "real" Texas bbq is (again, read the link below).

                      But one thing is for sure, parboiling is a sin. Any time the subject of boiling perfectly good meat comes up, I am reminded of the scene in Apocalypse Now where Chef talks about his experience in the navy.

                      Link: http://www.robbwalsh.com/03writings/a...

                      1. re: Chris G.

                        Excellent article. Thanks.

                        1. re: AlanH

                          Being the 'cue conoisseur that you are, you should check out Robb's book, "Legends of Texas Barbecue Cook Book" (if you're not already aware of it) - great recipes and tips from the masters that will expand anyone's bbq repertoire.

                    3. Parboiling will leach out flavor from the ribs. A good way to avoid this while getting the benefits of parboiling is to bake your ribs in the oven over a low heat in the marinating liquid. After they're finished in the oven, remove the ribs from the liquid and reduce the marinade. Use the reduced marinade as the basis for your barbeque sauce.

                      Whatever flavor gets lost from the meat will be re-gained in the sauce, plus the marinade penetrates more deeply into the meat this way.

                      I've made some tasty Asian inspired ribs with this method, marinating them in soy, fresh ginger, garlic, orange juice and rice wine vinegar. Make the barbeque sauce by mixing the reduced marinade with tomato paste, cayenne and/or red pepper flakes and whatever herbs you want. In a hot saute pan with smoking hot oil, quickly dump the sauce and cook for only a minute or two. Brush onto ribs after they've been grilled. Not so traditional, but really good.

                      1. a
                        Andy Poverchuk

                        I'm a pretty good cook, but some things I have trouble with for some inexplicable reason. Baby back ribs is one of them. Mine are always tasty, but they don't fall off the bone like a restaurant's version. I've tried parboiling, but that didn't help.

                        Of course, restaurants typically don't grill or broil their ribs. They roast them in a standard or convection oven. Then they sit covered in a steam table until you order them. Some places even have specially built "ovens" that cook at very low heat for a very long time. Maybe this is why thay always taste better at your favorite restaurant.

                        All I can say is "experiment". That's what I'm doing.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Andy Poverchuk

                          And I have a husband with a backribs obsession, so I spent serious time and money learning how to make them right.

                          I have never ever topped this recipe. There are two methods, depending on how much time you have.

                          If you have 4+ hours.

                          Use the Fine Cooking (see their website, issue number 56) recipe for Spareribs rub. (It's fantastic). Use on an impeccably fresh, (like you bought them today, even one night well-wrapped in the refrigerator somehow dries them out) pair of slabs. Rub the spice rub in well over all the surfaces.

                          (My fave ribs come from Whole Foods, organic, non-enhanced pork back ribs).

                          Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Lay the slabs meaty side up and roast for 4 hours.

                          These are fall-off-the-bone tender. During the last hour, watch carefully, as different thicknesses of ribs (from different sized animals, presumably) can cook at slightly different rates. I've pulled some out at 3 1/2 hours, some I've let go a little over 4 hours. To test, use tongs and pick up the slab in the center. Observe how far the sides flop down. When the slab is very flexible, it's done.

                          There is a nice roasted pork flavor from these, and the falling-off texture can't be beat.

                          The second method is actually my favorite, and comes from a shocking source -- The New Betty Crocker Cookbook! (2000 edition, illustrated).

                          Use the same spice rub from Fine Cooking.

                          Prepare ribs in the exact same way. Assemble meaty side up on an unlined baking sheet with sides (jelly roll pan). Don't use any foil or parchment or other such nonsense. The cookbook says to cut the ribs apart beforehand but DO NOT do that. Leave the slabs whole.

                          Heat oven to 350, and roast for an hour and 45 minutes to two hours. Perform the "flop" test at 1:45, and cook accordingly.

                          These are not falling off the bone, but still very tender and succulent. I don't like my ribs to be quite as slippery as falling off the bone -- I think the flavor of the meat and spice rub combine better in the 2nd, 2-hour method, than in the slower-cooked method.

                          But that's just taste, of course. Use whichever you prefer. The two-hour method is great for a weeknight, if you get home by 5 or 6 and plan to eat by 7 or 8. The other method is a weekend-afternoon affair.

                          I've tried wrapping/parboiling/grilling and all the combinations thereof. Nothing compares to this. Boiling meat of any kind, especially red meat like pork, is, in my opinion, a flavor-leaching exercise.

                          Disclaimer: I am not a pitmaster, and I'm sure a barbecue specialist with a smoking pit and various levels of fire and hours and hours could do a better job on ribs than I can with my Weber gas grill. However, unless you are one of those pitmasters with all the fancy equipment, fire expertise, and time, I think the simple oven method can't be beat.

                          My husband and I eat baby back ribs at least once every 2-3 weeks year round, so I have a little experience with this :)

                          I've love to hear anyone else's oven method.

                          1. re: Mrs. Smith

                            I would appreciate it if you would post the recipe for the rib rub you use. Thanks in advance.

                            1. re: Norm

                              Yes, please Mrs. Smith, could you give us the ingredients for the rub. It's no longer on the Fine Cooking site. At least, not that I could find. TIA.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                Joan and Norm: I have issue #56 of Fine Cooking and the rub Mrs. Smith was probably refering to is called Memphis Spice Rub. I will give ingredients and directions here in my own words. Let me know if you need cooking directions, but I believe Mrs. Smith supplied those.
                                2 1/2 T. hot chili powder
                                1T ground coriander
                                2 T. ground cumin
                                1/2 T. paprika
                                1 T. kosher salt
                                1/2 t.black pepper, freshly ground
                                1/2 T. dark brown sugar
                                1/4 t. cayenne pepper
                                Stir everything together in a small bowl and rub on ribs. That's it. Hope this helps.

                                1. re: Marcia

                                  That's it exactly, Marcia, thanks for posting it.

                                  I've never felt a need for using sauce when this rub, but if you feel the need, Stubb's regular barbecue (the one with the "My life is in this sauce" on the bottle) is a good complement.

                                  A couple of notes:

                                  I use regular chili powder from the spice house, a medium-heat blend (not just ancho, not lava-hot, etc). I've never tried this rub with a chili powder labled "hot"

                                  I usually grind the cumin seeds my self, with the whole coriander seeds, in an electric coffee grinder I keep just for spices. While the pre-ground cumin and coriander are not bad at all, I think the freshly ground seeds have a slightly snappier flavor. Watch out, though, since they are just ground the powder they grind into can be a little clumpy because the essential oils are not yet dried out. Those oils are what make the spices spicy! Be prepared with a pastry brush or clean coffee-grinder brush to get this clumpy powder out of your grinder. They could be pounded in a mortar and pestle too, with good results.

                                  I have stored this rub in a pinch in the refrigerator for later -- it's not bad, but it's still the best the day you grind it.

                                  Also, I've been known to substitute half of the paprika (I use Pride of Zged sweet) with Smoked Paprika. This lends a slightly less sweet, smokier flavor. This is a nice addition for those of us who have no access to a real smoker to cook these ribs, which, of course, would be the best possible way.

                                  1. re: Mrs. Smith

                                    You are always full of good tips, Mrs. Smith. I wouldn't have thought of using smoked paprika, but it seems so sensible for those of us without a smoker. And freshly ground spices do make a trememdous difference - I'll bet you keep a separate coffee grinder just for that purpose. For Hugarian paprika, both sweet and sharp, I recommend Penzey's. I keep some of both in the freezer at all times. They are wonderfully flavorful and impeccably fresh.

                                    1. re: Mrs. Smith

                                      Thanks, Marcia, and Mrs. Smith, especially for the added detail. I, too, keep an extra coffee grinder for spices but have not ground my own coriander seeds. Will definitely give that a try.

                                      I was most intrigued by your preference for the faster cooking method. I've never been impressed with all the recipes that call for steaming first in foil to tenderize the ribs and get rid of some of the fat. It's taken me a long time to realize that although others may think the ne plus ultra of ribs is "falling off the bone" tender, I'm a gnawer at heart and prefer ribs I can really chew on. And too many dry rubs I've tried are overwhelmed by brown sugar. Sounds as though you've done all my research for me. Ribs, recipe #2, on the menu for Labor Day. Can't wait to try it.

                          2. Where did I read that if your wrap the cooked ribs in foil then in a paper bag for an hour that the results w/b amazingly good?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Sarah

                              I rub down my ribs, wrap them in foil, leave them in the fridge overnight, pour a mix of honey and vinegar the next morning, then slow cook them. Learned it from Alton Brown, and the ribs turn out like magic.

                              You brown the slow-cooked ribs on the grill briefly afterwards.

                              They retain their shape, but the meat comes away beautifully clean. Does this sound like the foil "bag" technique you remember?

                              I think you can search the Food Network site for Alton's "Baby Back" recipe.

                              1. re: Sarah
                                ChowFun (derek)

                                That is a Cooks Illustrated technique....they didn't create it, but they did test it, and they say it does make incredible ribs!

                              2. FWIW: I have, for the past several years, followed Pino Luongo's typically vague recipe in his book "A Tuscan in the Kitchen". Salt and pepper baby back ribs, rub a little olive oil on them, wrap in foil and bake at about 225 degrees for about six hours. Astoundingly good.

                                1. We wrap the ribs in foil and bake for an hour at 375 before grilling. They are amazing.

                                  1. Unless you are makng soup, no meat should come in contact with water, let alone boiling water. You end up with stock and meat with no flavor. Follow all of the long, slow, low heat cooking suggestions. tell you friend to take a few lessons. Boiled meat has little to no flavor.

                                    1. Parboiling is unnecessary and washes away flavor. It's a "grandma" technique. In essence, tenderness in tough cuts of meat depends on raising the temperature to where the collagen melts. You have to do this gently and slowly to get moist and tender meat. A long, slow barbecue works. Wrapping in foil at first speeds the process by essentially steaming the ribs -- much less juice washes out. When pressed for time, I've used a pressure cooker for about 20 minutes -- but use very little water so the ribs don't cook in it. Pressure cooker acts like a microwave steamer.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sbp

                                        I have parboiled ribs in a heavily seasoned braising liquid that includes beef stock, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, honey, salt, garlic powder, paprika (smoked) cumin and cayenne. I've gotten great results: very tasty, very moist, very tender ribs. The meat seems to take on the flavor of the liquid rather than vice versa.

                                        Still, I'm eager to try the technique described above that seasons them and bakes them in foil before grilling.

                                      2. I parboil my fois gras and white truffles, together, in LA tap water, before I ingest them.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: 2chez mike

                                          Ugh -- don't you know only parboiled black truffles go with parboiled foie gras?

                                          1. re: sbp

                                            I didn't know that.

                                        2. You wanna have some fun? Go post your question on the alt.food.barbecue newsgroup! They love par-boiling...NOT!

                                          I learned the par-boiling technique from mom, and although the ribs can come out decent and tender, there is much better to be had. If you don't have access to a smoker, you can do it the way I do. Rinse the ribs, your option to peel off the back membrane, season liberally with a good dry rub (probably the most important thing I have learned about ribs the last 10 years or so), bake 4-6 hours on low oven heat (200-250), then apply BBQ sauce if desired and finish off on a medium heat grill for 15 munites or so. After the oven the ribs can also be refrigerated and then grilled when desired.

                                          There truly is no right or wrong answer on the par-boiling...it's just that I think better results are achieved by other methods. WHatever you do, enjoy them!

                                          1. You do not need to fully remove the membrane on the back of the ribs. You can take a box cutter or another small knife and "score" the membrane in a diagonal, multiple X pattern. This membrane shrinks while cooking and can cause the ribs to "be tough"

                                            1. After reading this thread, I didn't see a suggestion for how we cook our ribs, so I thought I would throw my 2 cents in.

                                              We also buy our ribs from Costco. We wrap them in tin foil with a couple of ice cubes and place them on the grill (lowest heat setting) for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Uncover them and place them on the grill with bbq sauce and cook for about 1/2 more, basting with bbq sauce. They are the most tender ribs I have eaten and always fall off the bone.

                                              BTW - we got the idea from Two Hot Tamales, a cooking show that used to be on FoodTV. Whatever method you try, enjoy!!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: HippiRep

                                                I miss Two Hot Tamales! I am also reading all the suggestions trying to formulate one coherent method to try myself. My wife and I do not eat BBQ. And we decided maybe it's time we tried it. So I think tomorrow is rib day. One thing I learned so far is beer intake must be high to have good robs!


                                                1. re: Foog

                                                  That's so cool! motivated by a six year old post!

                                              2. I was in Costco today for the first time checking out the ribs. The only ones I saw were Kirkland brand. There wasn't much of a saving per pack about the same as I pay in my corner grocery,
                                                QUESTION: Are the Kirkland ribs superior to regular grocery store variety considering the price etc.? What should I look for in a good side of ribs?

                                                1. I'm sorry but I parboil my ribs without any complaints. I first trim the unwanted fat and the dark meat, and then marinade for a few hours. The dark meat usually found at the tips of the ribs lacks flavour from the get go. I reserve most of it for crock pot country style ribs or pass some of it off as a treat for our dog. He always knows when its time to grill when I go for the box of long matches! :-)

                                                  I usually spice up some plain Barbecue sauce for the ribs by adding butter, garlic, sauteed onions and honey which really makes for a delicious, genuinely "fall off of the bone" rack of ribs.

                                                  While I have tried slow cooking ribs on both charcoal and gas grilles, they still seem tough and the meat really gets between the teeth. Its like eating corn on the cobb if you asked me.

                                                  Anyways, good eatin!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: aircad

                                                    Might just be a fundamental difference in what is considered tender. While I have eaten "fall of the bone" type ribs, I prefer to be able to chew them off the bone. The "fall off the bone" type is ok for what it is which is pretty much stew meat. I'm not saying it is BAD, and wrong, I'm just saying that this seems to be a fundamental difference in the way the two schools of thinking what good q is. There are those who prefer smoked meat, and those who prefer the stewed (what many like to call "meat jello') style of ribs. Those who prefer smoked meat generally think of the meat jello techniques (Boiling, steaming, grilling with sauce) as heresy when it comes to real bbq. I rpefer to skin my ribs, rub them, let them sit overnight, and then smoke them with charcoal and wood chips for a few hours. Yes, they are like eating corn on the cob (which I also love, btw) but when done correctly are super tender and juicy, and I RARELY use sauce because the smoke and rub impart so much flavor that sauce is not needed, and would simply negate the work of making the ribs properly by overpowering the taste. I intend to keep my teeth healthy for a LONG, LONG time so I can keep enjoying smoked ribs, and I have no issue with using floss if I need to after I eat them. (LOL I just made a mess of spares and tips yesterday, and I was flossing away right afterwards.) I do have a friend who prefers the meat jello ribs since that's how his mommy used to make them. I always give him a hard time because he says they are soo tender, and I say they BETTER be tender since it is stew, and not bbq. Always gets his goat. I also say that my maker gave me these teeth to enjoy pulling meat off the bone. The stuff that falls off the bone is for babies since they do not have teeth to use yet. Of course, I am kidding.

                                                  2. I just purchased a package of babyback ribs from Costo and smoked them in my offset smoker (Char-Broil) which I bought in 2002 for $150 (price has not changed much). Preped the ribs w/ pepper and garlic salt. Did not take off the back membrane form the ribs. Soaked the wood "chunks" (not chips) over night in a 5 gallon bucket of water, loaded with wood chunks. Used 2 chimneys of charcoal in the offset box topped w/ wet wood, constantly re-filling with wet wood over the 3 or so hours of smoking. Adjusted dampers so Temp reached 250 degrees F. Cut ribs into 2-3 ribs sections before smoking. Smoke ring was about 1/8 or a little more deep. Last 5-10 minutes lightly coated with BBQ sauce. Yum!

                                                    1. As another poster commented, parboiling is a crime against humanity and all things decent.

                                                      I did notice a few comments that some were unable to get their ribs tender. This really comes down to one issue: Your ribs will ALWAYS be tender if you cook them LONG enough, regardless of how you cook them. I do not like ribs that are falling off the bone, as at that point, the meat is pretty much mush. Ribs are best when the meat still has some firmness to it. A good way to tell is if you pick the rack up with a pair of tongs - if it is fairly flexible and bends a bit, you're in the neighborhood of doneness.

                                                      Before I started using a smoker, I had good luck precooking back ribs in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours, then finishing them on the grill w/ a smoker box for another 30 mins or so. Getting a smoker changed everything and I would never go back - the flavor difference is huge and well worth the effort.

                                                      Before I put the ribs in the smoker, I apply a thin mustard slather, then put on my rub, and smoke them for about 4-5 hours at 225 degrees. I use woods like oak, apple, hickory, maple or pecan for smoke.

                                                      No matter which method you use, ALWAYS remove the membrane at the back of the ribs. It's really easy to get underneath it with an ice pick.

                                                      Hope this helps. Here's some recent before, during, and after pics I took of some babyback and beef ribs I smoked...

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. Why is parboiling "must"? If you like your results, that's all that matters.

                                                        1. As many before have pointed out, par-boiling meat should be punishable with a jail sentence. Why would anyone pour flavour down the drain? I’ve heard of people also using beer to par-boil ribs, again, why pour flavour and fat down the drain?

                                                          Animal fat is not good for the heart or the waist line. However, it is the fat on the ribs that provide the flavour and also helps to tenderize the meat. If you’re on a diet or suffering from heart issues then I fear that ribs are not your best choice. But these poor pigs gave their life for you to eat and you’re going to pour their lovely flavour down the drain, shame, shame, and double shame.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Pastryrocks

                                                            Well said, Pastryrocks. Here, here!

                                                            I just don't get it.

                                                            Many say that they cannot use a smoker, so they boil the ribs first, then finish on the gas grill. I still do not understand this. A gas grill is basically an oven / broiler. I would broil a char seal on the ribs first, then turn the temp down on the gas grill, and then oven roast the ribs at a low temp instead of boiling them. Not really sure what boiling them accomplishes. I could see if ribs were like extremely tough sinewy stew cuts, but they are really not. ESPECIALLY baby backs.

                                                          2. Shhhhh.....I know that the purests here will crucify me for even mentioning this, but it's true. Well, almost. At gal from Texas, smartest woman I ever dated, couldn't score less than 165 on an IQ test if she tried, and that's a fact, turned me on to this. First, everyone knows that you should be soaking your pork in brine before you cook it anyway. Duh. No brainer. (http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/...) So, after doing the parboil thing a few times, which makes great, tender ribs but loses a little on the flavor side, I think I've perfected the method. I parsimmer, in a brine solution. Soak your ribs, personally I prefer baby backs, but I understand that others enjoy spare, in a warm, salt-water solution. I go heavy on the salt, and soak them at about 180 degrees for 20 minutes or so. Then they are ready for any dry rub you like and on to the smoker. I use hickory, over water for a very low heat. After 7 hours or so.....yum. My friends swear by them and I've never had a complaint about lost flavor. Partly because I never boil the ribs, plus I like lots of smoke and I use a good sauce. (I prefer to make my own, but Cattleman's isn't bad if I have to used store bought.) My ribs come out tender, full of flavor, but still nice and juicy.

                                                            1. I really, really respect what Mrs. Smith is laying down. However, I might add that even those of you that are against parboiling and are baking or other should brine your pork before cooking it. It's just science, and it works.

                                                              1. Gordeaux......Yuck. Please do not talk about "jello" ribs. Blech. We are talking about tender, flavorful ribs. I hate people that bring up that term "jello' ribs. I hope nobody here is cooking their ribs jello-like. If you bake them, or smoke them to long they can get dry. If you parboil them to long........yuck. But everyone should be brining their pork. Ham, bacon, ribs, shoulder.....whatever.....pork should be brined. As I posted, it is just simple science. The salt disolves some of the tougher proteins. It's that simple.

                                                                1. Mrs. Smith....Stubb's is good. But the commercial version uses that fructose corn syrup. The ribs at his place in Austin are excellent though. I must say that. Perhaps a tad dry.....but excellent nonetheless.

                                                                  1. Mrs. Smith is good. But you don't need a coffee grinder.......a pepper grinder does fine. Especially if the "pepper grinder" has a coarse, medium and fine setting. As for Candy's comment........for gosh sakes brine your pork people. Duh. It is just science. See the link I posted above. I'm not saying that you have to boil anything. In fact, I don't. But brining your pork is best.

                                                                      1. OK, I get that parboiling is not the best way to go with ribs. But if one is a single woman, entertaining 20 people and would like to enjoy the party, is it not in some way acceptable? Or perhaps another type of pre-prep? And if parboiling is the way to go in this case, can someone refresh my memory on how long and then how long on the bbq? Thanks!

                                                                        18 Replies
                                                                        1. re: candace627

                                                                          Acceptable? Hey, they're your ribs, it's your money, it's your party - do what you want. Keep in mind, though, that you'll be leaching a LOT of flavor from your ribs and pouring it down the drain with the water, and they'll be a lot less tasty than they could have been.

                                                                          1. re: candace627

                                                                            why wouldn't you enjoy your party more if you just cooked them in the oven without par boiling?

                                                                            you should boil ribs if you're making rib soup. otherwise i'd skip it.

                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                              OK you guys, I may be going against the wheel, but I consulted with a butcher and tried his version. It was faster so I could spend time with my guests and pretty easy:

                                                                              Parboil ribs for just 15 minutes, BBQ for 20 minutes, basting with BBQ sauce the last 10 minutes. Hold in 400 degree oven, covered, for 15-20 minutes with a little Jack Daniels or wine in the pan to steam. The extra time in the oven gives time for final prep on other dishes. My guests loved them and I did not make rib soup!

                                                                              1. re: candace627

                                                                                >>BBQ for 20 minutes<<

                                                                                What does that mean?

                                                                                1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                  candace627 probably means she grills the ribs for 20 minutes. 20 minutes does not make a barbeque.

                                                                                2. re: candace627

                                                                                  I'm glad it was a success. However I fail to see how putting ribs in the oven at 225 for 4 or 5 hours takes up any more of your time.

                                                                                  I bet that water was tasty though!

                                                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                                                    You guys are a tough crowd. I give!

                                                                                    1. re: candace627

                                                                                      What does "bbq for 20 minutes" mean?

                                                                                      1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                        Place on a medium heated grill rack side down for 10 minutes. Turn the rack to meat side down and cook for another 5 minutes. At the end of those 5 minutes apply bbq sauce to rack and turn, also putting bbq sauce on meat side, which is now facing up. Cook another 5-7 minutes. Total cooking time about 20 minutes and the sauce does not get burnt.

                                                                                        1. re: candace627

                                                                                          well Candace, if you're worried about your sauce burning-- for one thing, you're grilling when you should be bbqing, and for another, the sauce has too much sugar in it. your basting/mop sauce should have zero sugar in it, and sweet bbq sauces should only be applied at the last moment, or better yet, served on the side when the ribs are done.

                                                                                          i agree with other posters that the advice you got from your butcher was pretty bad. rather than advising you to improperly cook his ribs, he should have steered you toward serving a different type of meat where fast-grilling would be appropriate-- like steak or burgers.

                                                                                          (unrelated comment) this thread is ancient. i wish the mods that be would split off current sub-threads and link it back to the original, so that people aren't expecting responses from folks who haven't posted in over 5 years.

                                                                                  2. re: candace627

                                                                                    "...and I did not make rib soup!"

                                                                                    Well, you made rib *broth*. I hope you used it in something, rather than pour all that flavor down the drain.

                                                                                    I can't imagine a butcher giving this kind of advice - usually they give advice that maximizes the potential of their product, and this advice doesn't.

                                                                                    1. re: ricepad

                                                                                      most butchers these days don't know a thing about butchering, let alone cooking.

                                                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                                                        I'm also not sure why there are all these ppl that think baby back ribs are tough and need to be stewed. Spares, ok, I could see - although I would still never boil them - waste of time and energy. Slow cooked in an oven or bbq'd (ahem, real bbq mind you, not just 'grilling' them with bbq sauce.) I don't understand the reason to boil ribs at all - it's just extra mess and cleanup.

                                                                                        1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                          the reason people boil them is so they cook more quickly.

                                                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                                                            IMNSHO, the *real* reason people boil ribs is because they've gotten bad advice!

                                                                                            1. re: ricepad

                                                                                              The OP got good advice here but still boiled them. So I think something else is at play here. Namely, it sounds easier and it's quicker. Of course, there are likely other reasons (plural) why people boil ribs.

                                                                                              1. re: tommy

                                                                                                I don't understand how it's easier at all. Slow cooking in the oven OR in a smoker is no work at all, generally. There is also no switching of cooking mediums.

                                                                                                Does the math of the cooking times support it being quicker?

                                                                                                1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                  you'd have to ask the OP about that, since he received advice from both camps, and still went with the boiling method so he could spend more time with his guests.

                                                                              2. Baby back ribs should not be boiled. Apply a good rub or marinate for a couple of hours, then long slow cooking at a moderate temp on grill or preferably a water smoker, ( about five hours, apply barbeque sauce of choice during last hour, every 15 minutes. In fact , never boil any ribs prior to cooking. If you don't like the taste of ribs, then go burn some chicken.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: ohoneyhugger

                                                                                  I got this recipe many years ago out of the Los Angeles Times. It's called NeveFail Ribs, and it never has. All cuts and sizes, the loin back, country style, baby back ribs done in a slow cooker tenderizes the meat. First dry season the meat with any favorite rub and cook it on low for seven to eight hours. Drain the fat away and then return the ribs to the cooker, pour in a smokey-flavored barbecue sauce and finish the cooking on low for an additional 30 minutes.

                                                                                2. I too bake my ribs long & slow (after finding a killer recipe in Bon Appetit many years ago) but I salt & pepper & garlic powder rub them first & then enclose completely in foil before baking for 2 1/2 hours. That way they sort of steam in the foil packet & are truely falling off the bone---then i grill them w/sauce. Boiling any meat makes it tough.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                    Just thought I would throw the way I do my ribs out there. As I have yet to get a smoker and really get into it, I have made delicious, mostly fall off the bone ribs for years. I first peel the membrane off, I don't want to chew on that. I rub the ribs with a homemade rub, happen to use King of the Q's (Ted Reader) Bone Dust Rub (my all time favourite) and leave them for however long I have time for from an hour to overnight. I then put them in a long flat roasting pan with a rack. I put the ribs on the rack and place any sort of liquid in the bottom, but not touching the ribs. I really lke apple juice, or beer or wine, or even water or stock. You can put any sort of aromatics in the liquid you like. I then cover the pan with foil and "steam" them for anywhere from an hour and a half to longer, depending on the ribs. Oh and I always use baby backs. I then remove them from the pan, throw them on the grill and baste with sauce, till carmelized and beautiful. They are delicious. I am afraid I have to agree with everyone on boiling makes great flavoured water, not ribs.

                                                                                  2. I have to agree with several others on the site, DO NOT PAR-BOIL Baby backs or spare ribs! The biggest mistake people make is not removing the membrane on the underside (bone side) of the ribs. Some markets remove this for you, but the membrane is tough and must be removed prior to cooking or grilling. I always use a dry rub with salts and spices my wife and I have used for years and then we wrap them in plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight. When ready to start the cooking, I use a large square baking pan and add about 3 cups of water and about 4-5 Tbsp of liquid smoke to the water. Lay the ribs (with plastic wrap still on, it wont burn up!) in the pan and cook on 250-275 degrees for about 3-3 1/2 hours. Remove ribs from oven and let cool for about an hour. Take them out to the grill and place them meat side down first, and grill for about 5-7 minutes on low heat. Sauce the side facing up and flip them over. Now, sauce the meat side 2-3 times in the next 7-10 minutes and the sauce should be nice and thick and carmelizing a bit. Remove from the grill and serve! This is how restaraunts do their ribs (at least Houston's does) know many people in the restaraunt business and they confirm that this is retaraunt style preparation for cooking ribs! Friends and neighbors tell me they are they best they have ever tasted. NOTE: If you are a regular at a restaraunt or know someone in the business, ask them to get you a box of true Baby backs, as they are pretty much reserved for commercial only and are hard to find. The smaller ribs are so much better than the COSTCO type back ribs... ENJOY:)

                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: danderson1968

                                                                                      i don't think that leaving the skin on is the "biggest" mistake people can make (especially in the context of a thread on par-boiling). in fact it's left on at many bbq restaurants that have been around for years. it's not like chewing through silverskin. after being smoked for several hours, it's quite edible, and some people even like the texture.

                                                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                                                        Agreed...I like the membrane on the ribs. It reminds me of the *snap* on a truly great hotdog.

                                                                                        The biggest mistake people make (besides boiling, that is) is using liquid smoke.

                                                                                        1. re: ricepad

                                                                                          I disagree. I think the biggest mistake is assuming that everyone has a backyard smoker. If you have such a device, go ahead and slow roast your ribs with a smoky fire. You can even let your ribs loose flavor via drippings that collect in the pan below. :)

                                                                                          But for mere mortals, liquid smoke is a valid way of adding adding smoke flavor.

                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                            there are very reasonably priced stove-top smokers available.

                                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                                              There are cheaters and there are purists; and sometimes they have things in common.

                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                perhaps the assumption is that anyone with 30 dollars and a stove has the ability to add actual smoke to their food. even "mere mortals" have access to these two things, I would hope.

                                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                                  You can do wonderful things with an old Weber Kettle from a yard sale. Set it up indirect, all the heat on one side, meat on the other, and the top vent on the same side as the meat. I cook with smoke in the winter and can easily maintain 225 for hours with one chimney of coal, the bottom vent wide open and the top vent 3/4 closed. I've cooked ribs, butts,and even whole turkeys on that little 22" grill. They are remarkably efficient. And hey, the cool thing about doing it yourself is you can do it the way you want...there is no such things as the way it should be in my mind. I just shoot for simplicity by understanding the interactions between meat, smoke, heat, marinades, and rubs.

                                                                                    2. Serious jail time should be imposed to those that boil ribs. Its bad enough that some do them indoors, but thats understandable.

                                                                                      Boiling just leeches all the fat out, which is the flavor. Though I bet that water tastes mighty good.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: mtomto

                                                                                        Are you saying that properly BBQ ribs contain all the fat along with the all the flavor? In my experience quite a bit of fat (and juices) collects in the drip pan underneath. Do you collect and use that? Mexican pit-BBQ (barbacoa) does collect these drippings.

                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                          I add a little water so the drippings don't burn on the bottom of the pan. I then use the drippings as a mop before the bbq glazing starts. I love doing this for butts and pulled pork too.

                                                                                      2. My method: Prep ribs (remove membrane); use rub of choice and wrap well and refrigerate for 24 hours. Bake ribs, covered, in oven at 225 for 2 hours or so. Let cool. I then smoke the ribs in stove top smoker for 30 minutes or so. Finish on grill, indirect heat, mostly, but move to get a bit of char if so desired. Sauce and consume.

                                                                                        1. I steam mine over water with a lot of herbs (usually marjoram and Mexican oregano since that's what I have the mjost of in the garden) in the water for a while just until they start getting tender, then finish on the grill. The meat is neither tough nor does the flavor get boiled out of it.

                                                                                          Doesn't sound like you need to change anything, though, no need to mess with perfection!

                                                                                          1. I was a professional cook in a past life and am now a doctor. At any rate, despite some if the ridiculous posts i have read on this subject you should not be afraid to parboil a meat like pork ribs.

                                                                                            A quick parboil, 30 mins or less, can be used to breakdown and tenderize the meat and make the final cooking method shorter. Shorting the final cooking method,( dry heat, smoke, grill, low heat oven, ) can be very beneficial especially if you are not a professional or don't have hours to stand over a hot grill or smoker. Or don't have the professional equipment to let it sit and walk away. The longer you have to cook a meat the more likely you are to ruin it.

                                                                                            In addition many people don't like the "dirty" taste of pork. Parboiling is a great method for removing fat from the meat, where that porky taste comes from. This will also eliminate the "greasy" rib. And it also gives the opportunity to "infuse" additional flavors into the meat. Such as apple cider, your favorite beer or liquor, and a host of other dry herbs and seasonings which can be added to the parboil.

                                                                                            Parboiling is not necessary to cook great ribs but it is definitely a good method to produce award winning ribs. Anyone who says differently either has never tasted ribs which were parboiled then smoked or grilled or didn't know they were tasting them.

                                                                                            I personally will parboil my ribs in a mixture of apple cider, apple cider vinegar, a honey beer, and a mixture of my favorite dry spices. This will be a 30 min parboil prior to smoking or baking or both.

                                                                                            There are many ways to make great ribs depending on your skills and equipment. But parboiling does produce great results. I would put my ribs blind against any other rib maker.

                                                                                            And although the real secret is in the sauce the meat must be perfectly cooked for the sauce and the meat to work together!

                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: DocCooksr

                                                                                              Plese enlighten me....you say Parboiling "is definitely a good method to produce award winning ribs." ....... I have never heard of anyone getting an award for BBQ'd ribs cooking in this method. Every BBQ pitmaster that I have ever heard, seen, or read oppose boiling in any way. The flavor loss is just not worth the time saving.

                                                                                              1. re: sdv231

                                                                                                As mentioned above, it can add tenderness and flavor. But it is probably against most, if not every, BBQ competitions' rules.

                                                                                              2. re: DocCooksr

                                                                                                What a great concept. Boil ribs to get rid of the pork taste and add your own flavor. My thoughts are we can boil beef, chicken or any other meat and make it taste like the flavors we add when we finish it off. I think there must be a market for boiled meat flavors, I will call some investors as soon as my 5 gallon kettle of water boils. My sons birthday tomorrow, and going to throw a 3 lb chicken, 2 lb chuck roast and a 4 lb pork shoulder in the kettle. It is a bring your own sauce, spice or flavor enhancer party.

                                                                                                1. re: otps

                                                                                                  I think you missed the concept, Ms. Otps. I recommended brining them in warm water to gain flavor and tenderness. But I'm not against parboiling. Someone down south taught me to do it and it seems to work quite well. It adds tenderness and flavor, true about that. I prefer rotisserie chicken, or deep fried. You'd have to put a chuck roast on now.......might be good to use a crock pot. As for the 4 lb pork shoulder, if you are smoking that, I hope you had it on the smoker quite a few hours ago, but it is good to brine them also. Have a great time at your party. From Memphis to Raleigh, here's plenty of flavors out there, for sure.

                                                                                                2. re: DocCooksr

                                                                                                  Hands down the most ridiculous post on this subject.

                                                                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                                                                    tommy, hilarious..and I agree...I suspect Doc did a hit n' run, this is his or her only post from what I see.

                                                                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                                                                      Ridiculous indeed. If someone doesn't like the 'porky' taste of pork, and needs to boil it to remove the offensive porkness of it...why even bother eating pork?
                                                                                                      I think the good doctor must have been pulling our leg.

                                                                                                      In the end though, it's personal choice. I'm firmly in the no boil camp, but one must do 'em up to their own preference.
                                                                                                      I've eaten ribs prepared by parboiling because that is what was served to me, but ate them without commenting on how undistinguished they were.

                                                                                                    2. re: DocCooksr

                                                                                                      "The longer you have to cook a meat the more likely you are to ruin it."

                                                                                                      Clearly, you don't like nor approve of real bbq. The longer and slower you cook it, the better.

                                                                                                      I use an outdoor grill and indirect, low heat to cook non par boiled baby back ribs to tender perfection. Only thing parboiling gives you is speed and loss of a lot of flavor. Most serious bbq'ers dry rub, let it sit overnight, don't sauce, it's optional at the end.

                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                        This is partially correct. The longer and slower you cook the ribs, the better, to a point. There is a point where you begin to dry out the meat. Otherwise, I agree.

                                                                                                        Indirect heat, of course. All BBQ is indirect heat, otherwise you are grilling. Outdoor.......kinda goes without saying.

                                                                                                        Have you tried brining and parboiling? You can actually cook longer on the indirect heat and come up with more moist rib meat.

                                                                                                        1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                          Obviously, overcooking is possible, but the poster I responded to stated that long cooking was inevitably bad, basically.

                                                                                                          I buy excellent Dubreton ribs, and they're very moist and meaty even without brining, unlike the horrible lean pork that most producers raise. I suppose my dry rub with salt is a dry brine, like that which works so well with my Thanksgiving turkey.

                                                                                                          I wouldn't ever consider parboiling the turkey or the pork. It flavors the water, not the meat, and just means I have less time to slow cook them over smoke.

                                                                                                    3. The "true" method of making pork ribs involves a spice rub, hardwood smoke, low temperature and hours upon hours of time. Here is how I make ribs at home without a smoker that, in my humble opinion, come out better than any smoked ribs:

                                                                                                      -Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs (you can grab it with your fingers).

                                                                                                      -Season both sides of the racks LIBERALLY with your favorite spice rub (generally chili powder, paprika, brown sugar and salt as a base with any number of things added for personal style) and refrigerate overnight.

                                                                                                      -Place rib racks in a large baking dish, add a braising liquid (I use orange juice) and cook in a 250 degree oven for 3 hours (check the meat after 2 hours, you want to be able to twist the rack of ribs with a pair of tongs and almost be able to pull it apart).

                                                                                                      -Make your favorite BBQ sauce (I use the braising liquid, which I refrigerate and skim the fat off of, as a base for my sauce).

                                                                                                      -Brush the ribs with sauce and finish on a medium hot grill, turning and brushing with sauce several times until you have a layer of caramelization. I brush them once more with sauce just before I serve them.

                                                                                                      This is not your quick and easy "toss them on the grill and they are pretty good" recipe, but I urge you to delve deeper into the world of ribs. It is also fairly easy because you can do other things for a few hours while the ribs are in the oven. This is a special occasion recipe for me and it has never let me down.

                                                                                                      Long story short, if you want to par cook your ribs to make them more tender, do it in the oven at a low temp (250-300), possibly with a braising liquid, but never boil them.

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: nihongojoe

                                                                                                        Comparing smoked ribs and non-smoked ribs is like apples and oranges.

                                                                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                                                                          You are missing the point. We are all talking about smoking our ribs on an indirect BBQ. The question at hand is brining and/or parboiling. You can't cook ribs by parboiling alone. It is the definition of the word. Parboiling is a term short for partial boiling. It creates a meat that is more tender and juicy and can, as mentioned above by others, increase the flavor with your parboil mix. Even if you do not parboil.....seriously, you should try it......I highly recommend that you brine your pork before you BBQ. Of course, since you have to brine for a minimum of 12 hours, you do not have time to do this in most competitions. But at home.......it's just the science of cooking. It tenderizes pork and poultry. I do not brine my beef.

                                                                                                          1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                            If you look in the upper-right hand corner of posts you will see the post to which the poster is responding. If you do that in the post you just responded to it will likely become clear that I am in no way shape or form missing any points in this ridiculous discussion.

                                                                                                          2. re: tommy

                                                                                                            @nihongojoe.......Apologies. I did not read you last paragraph before posting below. I can agree with that when the last paragraph is included, and reads much like my post above (way above). I try not boil, but do heat my ribs in a pot of water (and spices) over low heat.

                                                                                                          3. re: nihongojoe

                                                                                                            The "true" method? That is the debate we are facing. Again, have you tried parboiling? Do you brine your pork? No mention of either. Your "true" method does not touch on the subject we are talking about, which is parboiling. I recommend you try it with a rack. Better yet, get two racks. Parboil one and BBQ the other. If you are doing them in the oven, which I do not recommend, I wouldn't use heat above 200 degrees. I shoot for 185 on my smoker.

                                                                                                          4. Parboiling will produce meat jello. Smoked meat is something many of us take years to perfect. Parboiling is a shortcut that produces an inferior product.

                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: cajundave

                                                                                                              Cajun.....It is true that if parboiling is done wrong (too long), it can create a gelatinous effect. Then again, I've tasted some bad ribs BBQ'ed without parboiling, and some great ones that have been parboiled. If it is done right.....yum. Best ever. But like you, it has taken years to perfect my smoking technique too. Cajun, do you brine your pork?

                                                                                                              1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                Hey Cos,

                                                                                                                If you parboil you cant smoke the ribs, they wont absorb the smoke and the texture will be completely different. It's a different technique.

                                                                                                                I have not brined before smoking. It sounds like a good idea, I am just not experienced with it. Pastrami is the best example I can think of of brined and smoked meat. I would love to perfect a good NY style pastrami from scratch. I live in Chicago area and our Pastrami sucks. I have had better Pastrami at NY airports then the best Jewish delis in Chicago. This is mostly due to the preference for Vienna Beef corned beef and Pastrami which is Chicago based and leaner than NY Pastrami.

                                                                                                                Its on my list of things to learn. Any advice from the hounds is appreciated.

                                                                                                                1. re: cajundave

                                                                                                                  "If you parboil you cant smoke the ribs, they wont absorb the smoke"
                                                                                                                  Can you explain that - or refer me to something other than opinion?

                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                    Once the meat has cooked, even partially it doesn't take the smoke as much, doesn't develop bark and isn't the same texture. If you read any of the BBQ threads others will concur with the fact that after 2 hours or so meat will seal and not absorb smoke. I realize that parboiling will leave with moist meat on the grill that will absorb some smoke but my point was more aimed at the technique and the finished product than the smoke absorption, I stand corrected and admonished.

                                                                                                                    1. re: cajundave

                                                                                                                      If that were the case it would be impossible to over smoke meat...yet it's not.

                                                                                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                        Wrong on over smoking, the meat will absorb only so much smoke and after that an over smoked black bitter exterior is the result.

                                                                                                                      2. re: cajundave

                                                                                                                        The argument here is that a smoke ring does not develop in meat above 135F, because the ring is primarily the result of NO2 reacting with myoglobin before it is denatured by heat - probably the same reaction that sodium nitrite produces in cured meats.

                                                                                                                        Since parboiling (or any cooking before smoking) denatures the myoglobin in the outer layers, I can see where it would inhibit the formation of a smoke ring. But a smoke ring is not the same as smoke flavor.

                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          So if I take an 8 lb pork shoulder and sear it on the outside and then put in the smoker for 12 hours at 225 it will have the same smoke flavor as one that I put in without searing?

                                                                                                                      3. re: paulj

                                                                                                                        This board has the people that compete around the country and also appear on certain BBQ telecasts.
                                                                                                                        Every question in this thread can be answered here.

                                                                                                                2. If you are going to try the parboiling method, I suggest this recipe. Very nice.

                                                                                                                  2 litres vegetable stock
                                                                                                                  2 tbsp black Russian Caravan tea leaves (or chinese loose tea works well here, pick your fave)
                                                                                                                  3 star anise
                                                                                                                  2 sticks cassia bark (cinnamon sticks if you cant find this.)
                                                                                                                  2 inch piece fresh root ginger
                                                                                                                  1 kg pork ribs, cut into individual ribs

                                                                                                                  1 tsp chinese five spice
                                                                                                                  1 tbsp brown sugar
                                                                                                                  2 tbsp soy sauce
                                                                                                                  2 tbsp honey
                                                                                                                  1 tsp sesame oil

                                                                                                                  For the ribs: place the stock, tea leaves, cassia bark, star anise, and ginger into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the pork ribs, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the ribs are tender. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. For the glaze mix all the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl, then transfer to a pan and bring to the boil. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by about a third in volume. Drain off the ribs (the stock is great for Asian soup bases, so keep it or freeze it). Lay the ribs in a single layer in a roasting tray, then cover with the glaze using a spoon or pastry brush. Cook in the oven for one hour, basting the ribs occasionally with more of the glaze mixture, until the ribs are deep brown and caramelised. Keep warm.

                                                                                                                  1. I promised myself I wouldn't get involved in any more of these debates, but I can't help it! "Real" BBQ is done low and slow over a live hardwood fire. Membrane off or on, dry rub, paste, mop, baste, all are fair game and open to debate. Braising, parboiling, oven-baking - not BBQ... but it's all up to how you want to make your ribs, it's your money. I will say, however, that the liquid you throw out after parboiling is full of flavor...flavor that used to be in the ribs. Why employ a cooking technique that makes your ribs less tasty than how they started?

                                                                                                                    20 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                      While I agree that it is not a good idea to boil ribs, I also think your statement that real BBQ does not include the braising of meat is incorrect. Frequently, the people on the competitive BBQ circuit will pull meat off the smoker and wrap it in foil to braise it long enough to get it more tender (but not "falling off the bone" if it is ribs).

                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                        And southern BBQ in the US, assuming that's what ricepad is referring to, is rarely "over a live hardwood fire." It's indirect heat.

                                                                                                                        Blanket statements are rarely useful. Incorrect blanket statements are never useful.

                                                                                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                          I don't boil ribs very offen , but when I do it's in root beer, stay hungry my friends

                                                                                                                          But not boil in the traditional sence, I put the ribs in a pot of root beer over the pilot on my smallest burner it takes 5hrs to get to 170f. The only reason I do it is A- the wifes loves it this way and B- most of the winter here is too cold for me to spend the time on my smoker.

                                                                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                              I wouldn't even call it a simmer, I don't let it get to even small bubble stage and when it hits 170, I turn the burner off, cover for 15 min then either put it under the broiler or grill it to char the outside.

                                                                                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                            Ricepad is right and you are wrong. Indirect heat is used for home BBQ because our grills and smokers are smaller. True BBQ joints usually have large pits where the meat is 3 or 4 feet above the wood. They shovel logs of hickory or oak etc. into the bottom of the pit.

                                                                                                                            This is a Chicago style BBQ pit aka aquarium smoker.


                                                                                                                            1. re: cajundave

                                                                                                                              Chicago is decidedly not in the south.

                                                                                                                              1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                                Here is a pit in Texas.


                                                                                                                                Next time you are trolling for typos get your facts right.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cajundave

                                                                                                                                  Looks very similar to other pits you'll find in Texas. The ones that are burning post oak logs off to the side of the pit. Without a heat source under the food.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ROCKLES

                                                                                                                                      I'm not sure why people are trying to point out exceptions in order to somehow prove me wrong. Of course there are exceptions. That was the exact thrust of my point, and you're supporting it. Hell Ed Mitchell does whole hog directly over hot coals. I think he cooks a whole brisket in a handful of hours, instead of 12 or 14. Some places in St. Louis don't seem to use fresh wood, and cook over coals.

                                                                                                                                      I stand by my assertion that this is not a valid blanket statement:
                                                                                                                                      ""Real" BBQ is done low and slow over a live hardwood fire."

                                                                                                                                      And that it is rare, if one considers all of the BBQ being made in the south, in restaurants, at competitions, and in backyards, that it is done over a fire.

                                                                                                                                      First of all, what is "real"? NC? Texas? Chicago?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cajundave

                                                                                                                                    Implying that Chicago is in the south isn't a typo, FYI

                                                                                                                                2. re: cajundave

                                                                                                                                  cajondave, also a few feet away from the fire, not just above it. Ever hear of an offset smoker box? They were not invented because of space restrictions.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: FoodMan88

                                                                                                                                    It does vary gentlemen. Some smoke, some cook over logs and let the meat juices fall directly on the logs to help with steam, smoke and flavor.
                                                                                                                                    I am sure its not worth arguing over, we can find as many links to different methods of barbecue as we want.

                                                                                                                                3. re: tommy

                                                                                                                                  Thanks for pointing this out. What I meant to say was "with a live hardwood fire", not necessarily over. You can do BBQ direct or indirect, but it has to be low and slow. Direct is harder to control, requires a more practiced hand, and is less common, but just as 'authentic' (whatever you want that to mean).

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                      One of the most popular smokers is the WSM, ( Weber Smokey Mountain). It is a bullet shaped unit and uses charcoal for heat. The smoke is provided with chunks of your favorite wood, (hickory, apple, pecan etc). Most use the Minion method for doing ribs.(Google it).
                                                                                                                                      This thread was about boiling ribs, not which smoker is best.
                                                                                                                                      I understand that many people have made ribs by boiling, baking, liquid smoke use, etc. and swear by them. I was in the same boat until I bought a smoker and used the low and slow method, the mushy over sauced ribs that I was used to were not close to, the low and slow. But as was said earlier, to each, his or her own. I would like an honest response from someone that has had boiled ribs that were better than low and slow done properly.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: otps

                                                                                                                                        lol.....I love this thread. BBQ is low and slow, by definition. I consider anything over 280 F as grilling. I have pretty good results doing both.

                                                                                                                                        Again, I highly recommend brining pork and poultry. If you simmer over low heat (I prefer a mixture with beer, not soda) under 135 F, I still get a smoke ring (although not as pronounced). Any pork flavor that is lost is gained by the brining mixture. I've never had a complaint in that regard, in fact many compliments. Then 6-7 hours on the smoker (I prefer hickory and applewood), lightly rubbed, mopped in the last 2 hours, at about 180-185 F.........and you get fantastic, tender (but not gelatinous), flavorful ribs. That's my story. Eat well my friends.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                          If the final produce is tender but not gelatinous, I wonder what has happened to all that collagen and its flavor? Has it dripped on to the coals and burned away?

                                                                                                                                          Where is the flavor in the meat? Is it in the juices, the fat, the collagen, or the meat fibers? Does parboiling (regardless of the details) significantly reduce the final weight of the meat. If it does not, then how does all the supposed flavor loss occur?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                            It is the same as smoking. Are you talking about parboiling, or brining? Parboiling is partially cooling the meat. Brining is a science (literally), and prepares the meat to be cooked, much as adding a rub is preparing meat. Brining doesn't effect the fat/collagen at all, other than to infuse it with salt, and actually increases the weigh of the meat, which also increases the required cooking time. Here's a decent site that describes brining. http://bbq.about.com/cs/pork/a/aa0118...

                                                                                                                              2. Mmm what a garble, there is nothing wrong with parboiling unless you have tasteless meat. All great BBQ countries (grill style) do it. Saves lots of fuel to. Don't throw away the stock afterwards freeze it and use it next time, stick to it and your ribs (and other meats) will have more flavour than ever. So less work, more taste, less fuel consumed. Last thing should be a thing considered when prepairing food. I hate people who light their oven for one silly portion of food, even if it serves 4.

                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Martins

                                                                                                                                  Boil 'em if you want, but you're not adding flavor.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                    nonsense, you are boiling it the wrong way then.

                                                                                                                                  2. Parboiling,par simmering,pre-baking,any such thing SHOULD be punishable by a long jail sentence!!!!!! Slow and low or cook something else if you're in that big a hurry!!!!!

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: WINDELLA

                                                                                                                                      nob. try it first and find the right way naysaying is easy, ever heard of simmering? And I am in no hurry mind you.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Martins

                                                                                                                                        nob. Not naysaying, I'm knowing! there is no need to simmer,pre-bake,par boil ribs. Period.
                                                                                                                                        that's my opinion and you have yours,

                                                                                                                                    2. I'm still trying to figure out why someone would feel the need to boil baby back ribs in a kettle of water in the first place.

                                                                                                                                      22 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                        Several points have been made explaining why.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                                          And none of them seem vid or necessary to me. There are better ways of achieving tender pork rather than immersing and boiling in water and thus leaching out flavor rather than than retaining it. I realize the point has been made ad nauseum, but I jumped in fairly late on this thread.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                            Better in what sense, loss of flavour is simply not true unless you boil them to death in a pool of water. I think using brines, rubs etc with lots of sugar and strong spices in them cover the pork flavour. Try it, put the ribs in shallow bath with spices of choice bring to a boil and immediately after that shut down the heat and leave overnight. Saves loads of fuel as well if that is not an argument......

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Martins

                                                                                                                                              Yeah, I'm not buying it. And unless you have to use dried camel dung for fuel, I'm not buying that argument either.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Martins

                                                                                                                                                Unless you drink the mixture with the ribs you lost most of the flavour with that routine

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                                                                                  Have you tasted such a mixture? or is this just an armchair observation?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                      You make stock from ribs in 30 minutes?

                                                                                                                                                      I cook meat like tongue for several hours, and have tasted the cooking liquid. While somewhat gelatinous, it is far from the highly flavored liquid that the anti-parboiling faction claims.

                                                                                                                                                      We still need an objective way to determine how much 'flavor' is extracted from meat during 'parboiling', one that does not confuse this loss with flavor that has been added via a dry rub, smoke, and Maillard reaction.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                        You may need it. Most of us don't because we'd never consider it.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                It's not only the tenderness, but it (brining) also adds moisture and flavor to the meat. Moisture is especially important because, by it's very nature, BBQ is a method of drying out meats. (In fact that's where the name barbeque comes from as it was originally a form of cooking used in the Caribbean as a way for people without refrigeration to preserve meat by slowly removing the moisture......like a meat jerky for example.) All I can say at this point is I recommend that you try brining sometime. It takes a little longer but I find it benefits the meat. And hey, if you don't like it or find it takes too much work, you can always go back to your standard method. We all have our personal tastes, which is one reason you can find so many different flavors of barbeque sauce around the country. Gotta love me some barbeque!! :-)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                                  I'm not opposed to brining meat, I do it all the time. Are telling me you boil the ribs IN the brine?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                    No, as previously stated, I do not boil. But I will simmer the bine mixture over a very low heat. You can brine it in a cold mixture, of course, but it takes longer and I usually don't have room in my refrigerator. I get virtually the same results by simmering for about an hour......very low heat though.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                                      Some celery and carrots and you'd have a nice soup.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                                        Whatever works for you, but even at a simmer, I believe it will extract more flavor than it adds. I've never run across a baby back rack of ribs lean enough to actually require brining however.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                          Brining has nothing to do with fat. It infuses moisture and salt into the meat, which makes it more moist, which makes it take longer to smoke.......and we all know that smoking wrings moisture out of the meat, which is why many of us smoke over a bowl of water/beer/vinegar.......pick your poison......they all add moisture to the cooking environment. So does brining. It's science.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                                            I've never left ribs in the smoker long enough to dry them out. If the ribs are on a low and slow smoke, there is no need to simmer them in water/brine. If it's such a great thing to do, why don't the competitive BBQ people simmer their ribs before smoking them?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                              Absolutely. Overdone meat is dry, properly cooked and timed meat isn't. Low and slow also gives the fat and collagen in a properly chosen piece of meat time to baste the meat from within...

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                                              Almost next year, but brining is related to fat for me, because less fat means less room for error in how long and at what temp you cook. In my kitchen that means pork loin and white meat poultry. Brining can add back some room for error in lean ( low fat) meats. The science makes protein hold on tighter to moisture....right?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                How does brining get rid of fat? Proper brining is soaking said meat in the salt/sugar mix not boiling in it.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                                                                                                  She didn't say it "gets rid of fat." She said brining buys you more leeway in meats that naturally have little fat.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                    Yes I misunderstood shrink, not sure what I was thinking

                                                                                                                                              3. Parboiling a must?
                                                                                                                                                ~ No. it's not.

                                                                                                                                                Is parboiling wrong?
                                                                                                                                                ~ No. it's not.

                                                                                                                                                I see it as a different way of cooking and a way to speed up cooking when you don't have the time. You just trade off something for the quicker cooking time. With that said, I've never parboiled ribs when I smoke or grill. However, I am interested in doing an experiment to see what the differences are between the methods.

                                                                                                                                                What is ultimately comes down to is personal preference. If you have a method that you like, don't worry about the parboiling.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                  I've had them both ways many many times, boiled, parboiled always taste the same meat falls off the bone ,appears moist but is dry in the mouth and flavorless.

                                                                                                                                                2. Old thread but what the heck

                                                                                                                                                  parboiling removes fat

                                                                                                                                                  but I could see how it might be an attractive method for someone who wants ribs in a short time

                                                                                                                                                  I would never parboil baby backs though

                                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: AdamD

                                                                                                                                                    But we all agree on brining, right?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                                      I brine pretty much all poultry and pork. There are plenty of people who do, and plenty who don't, and it's unlikely you'll change anyone's mind either way, so just be happy with your results.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                                        I don't think we *all* agree on anything, nor do I think that's a bad thing. I guess I dry brine with my seasoning rub, but I don't think it's necessary if the right piece of meat is chosen. I always brine or dry brine turkey for deep frying, though.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                                          I have never tried to brine pork-usually just a dry rub overnight.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: AdamD

                                                                                                                                                          No brine, no par boil, no pre bake, pull off skin in back, rub with whatever rub I'm in the mood for, place either on grill (indirect heat) with all vents almost completely closed or my smoker, a little hickory chunk and a little apple wood chunk and let her smoke for 4-5 hours.
                                                                                                                                                          I don't turn them over, I don't baste or mop them, I don't put any BBQ sauce on them,I don't even look at them for the 1st 4 hours and what I end up with are some of the best St. Louis style ribs I and most of our friends have ever eaten. They're not fall off the bone (since I don't like them that way),but they do pull off the bone cleanly when bitten into. Thanks guys, now I'm starved!

                                                                                                                                                          The only rule is that you make it any way you like because all that matters is that you enjoy them.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jnk

                                                                                                                                                            I always associate St. Louis style ribs with not only the trimming, but the saucing. Sweet and thick.

                                                                                                                                                            >>The only rule is that you make it any way you like because all that matters is that you enjoy them.<<

                                                                                                                                                            Such a simple concept that so few on the internet seem to grasp.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                                                              Very true, if you or your friends like what you cook, then that is all that matters

                                                                                                                                                              There is a segment of the population that likes dry ribs (i.e. no sauce).

                                                                                                                                                              I am not one of them when it comes to American style BBQ ribs.

                                                                                                                                                              And I think this thread was started to address the question of parboiling baby backs, not St. Louis style.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: AdamD

                                                                                                                                                                >>And I think this thread was started to address the question of parboiling baby backs, not St. Louis style.<<

                                                                                                                                                                Are you chastising me for responding to a post on chow.com that isn't 100% on-topic with the OP? LOL!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                                                                  nope poster above you LOL!!!!

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: jnk

                                                                                                                                                              This is what I do, too. I don't have a smoker, but I put the little smoker box in the bottom of the grill. Tender and moist under a flavorful bark. The science of my mouth tells me I am dead on.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Been watching this thread for some time, and it has become very alarming to me. Though I suppose it really should not be so shocking, after all I see people lined up at the Mc-Drive through. My assumption is people are not eating fast food to help teenagers with some extra spending money, my assumption is that they actual like what they are eating. God help us all.

                                                                                                                                                            Without a doubt, par-boiling meat is a waste of flavour. A court billion will add flavour to fish, chicken breast, etc. Furthermore, a court billion is about 40˚f cooler than parboiling and it also has an acid and some herbs and/or spices that add flavour. One never boils fish, nor should one boil meat of any kind, regardless if in beer and/or some other flavouring

                                                                                                                                                            The whole point behind eating ribs is that the bone and fat combined with a spice rub and cooked slowly will help create flavour. Even in an oven there is some caramelisation, and then add the tenderization from the fat, this all helps to add flavour, which is what food is all about.

                                                                                                                                                            If it tastes good then it is good. That being said, how can less be more? You cannot taste an oxymoron, it is like tasting less. If you are ok with pouring flavour down the drain, then parboil your ribs.

                                                                                                                                                            I thought Chowhound was a place to find out about good food. Not a place that would further the bastardization of food. I have no proof but I’m fairly sure that not even Neanderthals boiled ribs.

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pastryrocks

                                                                                                                                                              You are correct, if you want a bastardisation of the facts,,come here you will find them
                                                                                                                                                              bbq=dried out
                                                                                                                                                              and the list goes on and on and

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Pastryrocks

                                                                                                                                                                Great remarks. Boiling ribs is a sin. Every time someone parboils ribs, God kills a kitten.

                                                                                                                                                                I've never understood why people do this. If a smoker isn't available, then just toss them in the oven and leave them alone until they're done.

                                                                                                                                                              2. parboiling is a long-standing topic for debate and you'll find people who swear you should and people who say that you should be tortured if you do...all i can tell you is what i've seen and done.

                                                                                                                                                                living in the city of chicago, on the south side, there are rib joints everywhere. some better than others, but one common method of preparation: low and slow with smoke (i.e. no parboiling). i've also worked in several restaurants that feature ribs on the menu and they either bake or smoke or both but also, no parboiling.

                                                                                                                                                                here's the thing, while the idea of fall-off-the-bone ribs is a nice one, it's counter to what is to reasonably be expected with that cut of meat (whether baby back or spare ribs) unless you cook them long enough to break down the connective tissue completely. cooking anything for a long time can dry it out unless you cook it at a low temperature so that's why the term low & slow is used so often when it comes to ribs. parboiling is a shortcut to achieve that level of tenderness, and it comes with several drawbacks, one of which is the loss of flavor (if you don't like pork flavor, or "dirty taste" as someone called it, eat something else), but most folks don't notice because they put sauce on them. ribs are one of those foods that requires time to get it right and shortcuts, while acceptable in a pinch, shouldn't be standard practice.

                                                                                                                                                                now i hate food snobs as much, if not more than, anybody, but there are some things that people need to understand about cooking, and not just ribs.

                                                                                                                                                                rule #1-100: if it tastes good to you then it's ok by me
                                                                                                                                                                rule #101: just because it tastes good to you doesn't mean i have to like it

                                                                                                                                                                with that in mind, i cook ribs in a variety of ways depending on how much time and effort i have to put into them. none of them involve parboiling.

                                                                                                                                                                my favorite way is to slow smoke with hickory wood and a mixture of apple and cherry chips. anywhere from 4-6 hours depending on how many slabs i have on at one time. completely indirect heat, no charcoal at all.

                                                                                                                                                                if i have less time, i may smoke them for an hour or so then finish them in the oven (a couple restaurants i've worked in do it this way)

                                                                                                                                                                oven baked ribs go on a half sheet at 275 for a couple hours.

                                                                                                                                                                the great thing about oven ribs is that you can collect the fat and use it later (emeril is right: PORK FAT RULES!)

                                                                                                                                                                as far as seasoning/tenderizing, it depends on my mood, and also how much time i have. sometimes i brine in a cider vinegar/brown sugar mixture (anywhere from 1-4 hours), sometimes i go with only a dry rub (i let the rub sit on the ribs overnight if i can). once in in a while i jerk them (also as long as an overnight marinate, depending on how spicy i want the finished product). there are some great dry rub recipes out there so i won't bother with mine, and i love sweet baby ray's bbq sauce (although it's pretty thick).

                                                                                                                                                                one last thing...i actually prefer spare ribs to baby backs because they're meatier and are easier to cook because of the higher fat content. and the tips off spare ribs are awesome!

                                                                                                                                                                1. Ribs for 90 minutes? I cook mine a minimum of 5. Are you grilling, or smoking? If they are parboiled, you might be able to get away with an hour or two.

                                                                                                                                                                  Brining, or parboiling, will add moisture and allow longer cooking times. This will allow the fat to break down, making them more tender, and give a longer smoke time, and a longer time for the marinade/rub flavor to cook into the ribs.

                                                                                                                                                                  But if you are happy with what you are doing, don't make radical changes. I think many of us agree that Costco ribs are prime.

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                                                    Parboiling will NOT add moisture.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Evidently there are stronger opinions on cooking ribs then there are on POTUS.

                                                                                                                                                                    My take is this. Ribs for 90 minutes? That's grilling, not BBQ. I cook mine a minimum of 5 hours. 9 is best. You have to gauge your heat at less than 200 degrees and more than 160.

                                                                                                                                                                    If they are parboiled, you might be able to get away with an hour or two on the grill, but the meat would still be tough.

                                                                                                                                                                    Brining, or parboiling, will add moisture and allow longer cooking times. This will allow the fat to break down, making them more tender, and give a longer smoke time, and a longer time for the marinade/rub flavor to cook into the ribs. (Longer of course, for spare ribs. Less for baby backs, which are better for things like tailgates or when you don't want to spend all night shoveling wood chunks into the smoker.)

                                                                                                                                                                    But if you are happy with what you are doing, don't make radical changes. I think many of us agree that Costco ribs are prime.

                                                                                                                                                                    I do agree with misterchi, that hickory is my wood of choice. But I prefer brining over a low heat, not to long or you will get too much salt flavor, rather than parboiling. Then low and slow in a smoker. The longer the better to a point. If you put them on early in the morning, they will be perfect for dinner, or late night for lunch the next day. Look for the meat pulling away from the end of the bone.

                                                                                                                                                                    Of course, you can do this at a higher heat, but you will lose flavor and get a char, which adds nothing to the flavor and even is a carcinogen. Brining and/or parboiling will cut down on the char and still allow a longer cook time (at a low heat).

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cosmkdbree

                                                                                                                                                                      If you are doing your pork ribs for 9 hours I cannot believe they are not fall-off-the bone. I prefer pork ribs to be 'toothsome' meaning you have to bite the meat off the bone and chew it. Whenever I hear 'fall-off-the-bone' I hear 'over cooked'.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Par boiling it totally cheating, but it works. if I have to boil my ribs, I season the water with salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning, and minced garlic.

                                                                                                                                                                      If you want to get grilled pork more tender, once the interior of the meat has reached a safe temperature (155+), remove the meat from the grill, wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil and return to the grill. Turn the heat up a little bit on your grill and let the meat braise in its own juices. When I do this with pork butt roast, I also add some apple juice to my foil pouch. When I'm done cooking, I save the porky, appley braising liquid, add tomato paste, hoisin, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and spices and I've got a nice little barbecue sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                      Another technique to try is to put your coals behind a heat shield and try to get your grill temp below 250. Then add wood chips or chunks to your coals and grill/smoke for 4 hours covered, followed by my braising trick above. Tasty!

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jefftberg

                                                                                                                                                                        We're talking about baby backs here; no tenderizing, lengthy time or other measures are needed, they're very tender to start with.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. My opinion and observation...... When you boil those lovely ribs in a great big pot, what happens??? It almost boils over with white and brown foam...Ya know what that white and brown foam is.....It's all of the flavor that was in those ribs that is now floating on top of the water, AND, probably you will get this great big spoon and get rid of that stuff so it won't boil over and stink up the kitchen when it hits the burners......FRIENDS, You are boiling out all of the taste and flavers...You can see it.

                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HotMelly

                                                                                                                                                                          Since the foam (scum) has such great pork flavor, why not serve it instead of the flavorless bones?

                                                                                                                                                                          This is a zombie thread. It just refuses to die. Note the original date, 2003. Few defend parboiling as a step toward great BBQ ribs, though the claims that it removes all the flavor are just as a exaggerated as the claims that it removes all the fat. Whether it is possible to make great tasting ribs by braising is quite a different question.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                            Parboiling simply has to remove some of the flavor. Question is how much. If you knew that you might be able to choose, based on how much time you have, whether it was worth it. What I'd like to know is how much time does parboiling actually save? I can throw baby or st louis ribs on the char griller and have them done in 2 hours. Tender, meat comes cleanly form the bone and very moist. That's cooking indirect at about 350. Or can I put them on the WSM smoker, cook them at 250 for 3 1/2 hours and BOOM. Deliciousness. So how mcuh time does parboiling save?


                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                              just for fun, i'll add to this ghost thread.

                                                                                                                                                                              Boiling ribs is how I make delicious flavorful pork stock.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Since you specifically said "grilling", and not barbeque follow this method for fall off the bone tender ribs. DO NOT PARBOIL! THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP IS TO REMOVE THE MEMBRANE from the underside of the rack. Do this by piercing it with the tip of a paring knife and lifting a piece big enough to be able to grasp it between your thumb, & index finger. Membrane looks like opaque cellophane and should peel away from the fat layer underneath in strips. Next season with your choice of dry, or wet rub and wrap & seal the ribs in heavy duty foil. Par cook it on the grill @ 350 for approximately 25 minutes flipping sides at half-way point. Remove from foil and place directly on grill for about 30 additional minutes flipping 3 times applying your BBQ sauce during the last 15 minutes. I guarantee your success.

                                                                                                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: letsindulge

                                                                                                                                                                              Why is the most important step of the process removing the membrane?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                                                                                Because when grilling the ribs they don't spend enough time on the fire to break down that membrane unlike slow, and low barbeque. There is virtually no waste of edible meat using this method. It'll all be in your mouth, and stomach and all that will remain is the bare bone. I'll eat my words if you try it, and don't succeed!

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: letsindulge

                                                                                                                                                                                Actually, that does sound like the way to go - I've been faced w/ that membrane before and it's tough and weird. Thank you LetsIdulge!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                                                                                                  Jerry, it's the way to go. I glanced through the responses and noticed 3 - 5 others that mentioned removing the membrane. I am excited for you to try it because I do believe that you'll stick with it after seeing the difference it makes. I learned it from my chef instructor in culinary school who competed in BBQ contests. Enjoy those ribs!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: letsindulge

                                                                                                                                                                                    So you're now suggesting that it's important to remove it even when making BBQ? That's counter to some accepted wisdom. Methink it's purely an issue of preference. Certainly doesn't make or break BBQ.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: letsindulge

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes and no and maybe and it depends.
                                                                                                                                                                                      I understand the merits of removing the membrane. I did this religiously when running a kitchen (I used a rounded (not pointy or sharp) oyster shucker to start it and a dry dish towel to grip it between fingers - a bit of satisfaction when pulling the entire membrane in one pull....)
                                                                                                                                                                                      However, when making ribs for myself, I prefer leaving the membrane on. Eating ribs (gnawing on bones) is a visceral enjoyment. I *like* grabbing that membrane with my teeth, pulling it off the rib, eating it....

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                                                                                                      You've never heard of removing the membrane before this?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                                                                                        And pray tell what method do you use to grill ribs Mr. KIA errr...I mean tommy? Try not to be so antagonistic will ya?

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                                                                                                        I have to agree about the membrane. I usually remove the membrane if I can't get the butcher to do it and it can make a difference especially on babybacks or on shorter than optimal cook times on spares.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I use a clam knife of all things to remove the membrane, usually works pretty well.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PenskeFan

                                                                                                                                                                                          I used to always remove as much of the membrane but the last several times I have not removed the membrane and gave decided it's not a big deal.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It depends, sometimes it makes a difference other time it hasn't. I think I noticed that it matters most if I am doing lazy-Q, doing indirect on my gas grill with wood chips , but if I am using my smoker and doing for 5 hours or more, it usually doesn't matter much.
                                                                                                                                                                                            My wife on the other hand says she likes membrane off but doesn't insist.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PenskeFan

                                                                                                                                                                                              If the membrane bothers her, she can always pull it off just before eating the ribs.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Fifteen. Without a doubt. That's exactly the maximum number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. Doesn't matter if you boil the pin first or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                      If you like your ribs boiled, go ahead and boil them. If you like them mushy, wrap 'em in foil and steam 'em. If you like 'em floppy, peel the membrane. Experiment and cook 'em every way possible, and pick the way you like. Me? I'm going with spares, slow in an offset using fruit wood, membrane ON, Dalmatian rub, cooked until the rack bends and the ribs will twist a bit in their sockets. Sauce on the side (homemade, of course).

                                                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                        The saying goes. "Opinions are like a**holes, everyone's got one". The same applies for grilling methods for ribs. People like what they like, and if not they seek out suggestions such as the OP is doing.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: letsindulge

                                                                                                                                                                                          More accurately, the OP liked what he liked (almost 9 years ago): "They've come out perfectly"

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't want to divulge YOUR preferred method tommy?

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. After reading all these comments about the debate on parboiling and prebaking or not parbarboiling and prebaking ribs prior to grilling and BBQing I see that this issue, is still just as hotly debated as ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I say that " parboiling or prebaking or not to parboil or prebake prior to grilling and BBQing is a preferance that is neither wright nor wrong".

                                                                                                                                                                                          Personally I prefer to parboil or prebake ribs and chicken prior to grilling and BBQ grilling. Any taste and flavor that might be lost in parboiling and prebaking can be added back with spices.

                                                                                                                                                                                          To me ribs and chicken cooked or BBQ'd on the grill without parboiling or prebaking are tough and chewy like beef jerky where you have to fight with them to eat them.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I know the Grilling and BBQ purists call this sacilegious, I could care less what they do and think about rib preparation or I should say "lack of preparation". I'm a beer drinking weekend griller and BBQer whose only goal is to have some great homebrews and have some great tasting tender fall-off the bone ribs and chicken that the purists consider sacrilegious.

                                                                                                                                                                                          33 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sprkplug

                                                                                                                                                                                            "Any taste and flavor that might be lost in parboiling and prebaking can be added back with spices."

                                                                                                                                                                                            Not the flavor, just other flavor. It's still a loss. If someone likes that, it's their choice but adding spices etc. does not replace what is lost to those methods.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sprkplug

                                                                                                                                                                                              Do what works best for you. However it does appear you are blurring the lines between 'BBQ' and 'grilling'. Parboiling ribs or baking them in an oven, and then finishing them on a grill is not really BBQ. True BBQ is low and slow with smoke.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sprkplug

                                                                                                                                                                                                "To me ribs and chicken cooked or BBQ'd on the grill without parboiling or prebaking are tough and chewy like beef jerky where you have to fight with them to eat them."

                                                                                                                                                                                                This has not been my experience. Although I don't grill ribs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                                                                                                                                  sprkplug is likely using too much direct heat and/or too high temp. My experience is that low and slow produces a really moist and tender result.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: sprkplug

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a feeling you don't care about other preps because you've never had bbq. I'm not referring to grilling or whatever you are referring to as "bbq grilling" (admittedly, I don't know what that is.) I do, however, know that using a bbq method to smoke meats generally produces extremely tender meats if done correctly for the meat being prepared. If you are getting tough meats because you did not parboil or parbake the meat before doing whatever you are doing to it afterwards probably has more to do with your method of cooking the meat, unless you are buying some cuts that are not truly good to start with. If your only experiences with non parboiled or non parbaked ribs and chicken compare to beef jerky, then I guarantee you that you have not had anything cooked correctly.True bbq done right is pretty tender stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I tend to agree with these points. Although it should be pointed about that the initial post wasn't about BBQ. It referred to grilling, even though many people are confusing the two terms. Either way, either method, I see no reason to make chicken stock before I put some chicken in the smoker or grill. I've never heard of such a thing. And I've had pork ribs that were grilled, and not parboiled, and completely acceptable, although they were decidedly not BBQ.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: sprkplug

                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's ok. I know a lot of serious BBQ fanatics that don't appreciate good homebrew and prefer to drink crap beer, so there's room for everybody! It's your meat and your money...cook the way that pleases you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree with ricepad. But I also think it's important to learn to cook, if that's what you're doing, or opining on. Always room for learning. If your chicken tastes like jerky, it might be time to do some research and put some time and effort into the endeavor. Maybe it's just me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: sprkplug

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I cannot imagine the need to do anything before tossing meat on the grill. I'm not even talking about being a purist or thinking smoking is the only way to go. I can't even figure out what I would do to chicken before grilling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't smoke, unless I happen to put a few chips in the smoker box on my gas grill, but I put a rub on a rack of ribs, put them in the center of the grill with only the outside burners on low and close the lid. I open it three hours later to see if they are done. That is also how I do a whole chicken on a vertical roaster only it's more like two hours. I start chicken pieces over the fire on high and when they are a bit browned, I move them to the middle with the fire off and wait until they are done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      None of it is hard or much more than very basic science and certainly nothing to get all worked up over. It's just a simple, delicious way to cook meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Most likely you need to turn your heat down and take the meat off the grill before it becomes jerky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: NanH

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I LIKE the science part.


                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm known as Nan in some circles too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: sprkplug

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A slight twist to the rib question. My husband has been talking about the Kamado grill he left in Hawaii 40+ yrs ago (the original kind made of clay from Japan). He finally found a used one at a garage sale. 40+ yrs can blurr the memory, but he's been trying to reserrect the great meals he used to cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        He loves ribs so I googled how to cook them and found this thread. After reading at least 1/2 the posts, we decided not to pre-anything hoping the Kamado would do the slow cooking part, but of course, didn't allow enough time (used it up reading:-)).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        We put ribs (baby backs…good ones) on for about 2hr, 45min. using mesquite charcoal. They came out edible…good flavor, well done but dry. I assume too hot, too quick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Would love advice both on the ribs and cooking with the clay Kamado!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you haven't seen one, the Kamado is like the giant Egg, with air flow vents top and bottom to control the heat…the clay should help with moist cooking?????

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rwags

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Does your kamado have a thermometer? What was the temperature reading on it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The material of the cooker is immaterial to the moisture in your meat. Same goes for using something like a water pan in a cooker. You can dry out a piece of meat in boiling water -- it is all dependent on how much moisture the meat has squeezed out during the cooking process.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          My gut tells me you are mistaking "dry" for "tough." Under three hours doesn't seem sufficient to get your ribs tender. And overdone would not just mean dry, but would also mean falling apart, akin to pulled pork.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm also assuming you are using some sort of heat deflection in your kamado. In other words, the meat is not directly over the heat, but instead has some soft of deflector plate between the two in order to create an ambient heat environment. Is this correct?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bagofwater

                                                                                                                                                                                                            All great questions! No thermometer…think old world peasant cooking. No heat shield between coals and meat…think old weber.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The ribs weren't really tough, but you did have to "chew them off the bones. The meat seemed cooked enough, in other words not under done, but not moist, succulent and falling off the bone. Done, drier and could be cut or chewed easily off the bone. If we'd kept cooking it, might have turned to jerky. That's why I thought too hot, too quick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also, with the Kamado, we didn't move coal to the side to use indirect heat. We left them directly under the meat thinking the shape of the Kamado would do it's thing. Now thinking that was a mistake too, as you can use indirect with webers well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anyone think it might also work to wrap the ribs in foil at first too? Think we might try that next????

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks bagofwater!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rwags

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I recommend getting a thermometer. This is one of the brands I use.


                                                                                                                                                                                                              I agree that 2 hrs is pretty short unless your temps are above 350. Then it could be over done depending on the thickness of the ribs. You could keep cooking them the way you are and check on the them earlier, but using a thermometer is more reliable. Classic bbq method is 250 for about 4 hours for a 4 lb rib. Check it at 2 and at 3hrs. Sometimes I will wrap in foil at 3 hours to finish. If I do that I always unwrap and give it another 30 mins or so to firm up the bark. Lots of people recommend spraying with apple juice to help from a crust and to moisten. Every hour or so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Good luck.


                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rwags

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Very close to JuniorBalloon's instructions is the classic 3-2-1 method for ribs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                In a nutshell:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Smoke for 3 hours @225F (this is the 3)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wrap in foil and "bake" for 2 hours @225F (this is the 2)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Grill over hot coals to finish ribs (this is the 1)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tweak by adding dry rub at start, maybe spray with apple juice before foil, use a sauce before grilling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The first stage is to pick up smoky flavor while cooking low&slow. The second stage is to complete the low&slow cooking without becoming too smoky or drying out (it can be done in the BBQ with no smoke or even in your kitchen oven. Wrapping in foil is key here).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                The third stage is to get a nice bark on the ribs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the tips. I like the thermometer! Pretty fancy…just hubby's type of gaget! I also think the combo low temps, basting or spraying periodically and foiling for part of the process sounds like it would improve both moisture and taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Lots to try! Will let you all know how the experimenting turns out!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That seems like an awfully long time to cook baby backs, though not other ribs, necessarily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5 hours @ 225F isn't terribly long.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      However, adjust the times according to conditions...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It may just be a difference in preferences. Baby backs are really tender and small and cook much more quickly even at that temp than others, IME. I like them tender, not falling off the bone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Size will also come into play. I've seen then from 1 lb, all trimmed and IMHO nearly destroyed, to 2-3 lb meaty rib.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Baby backs aren't large, hence the name.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have seen BB's at 2-3 pounds. Just depends on how they're butchered.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And what they ate, I'd guess. But they're still smaller, leaner and cook to done very quickly, IME, at least.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Baby back ribs (or loin ribs, back ribs, or Canadian back ribs) are taken from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. The designation "baby" indicates the cuts are from market-weight hogs (240–270 lbs.), rather than adult hogs (500–650 lbs.). They have meat between the bones and on top of the bones, and are shorter, curved, and sometimes meatier than spare ribs. The rack is shorter at one end, due to the natural tapering of a pig's rib cage. The shortest bones are typically only about 3 in (7.6 cm) and the longest is usually about 6 in (15 cm), depending on the size of the hog."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Are you saying a 2.5 lb BB will cook faster than a 2.5 pound St Louis rib?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm saying that so far, I haven't cooked a 2.5 baby back rack, but I also don't buy feedlot meat products, which could be the reason. I have never cooked a baby back rack that weight. The cooking times and results for the time have been different betweeen St. Louis ribs that I buy and the very small, tender, baby backs I buy. I'm guessing a lot has to do with whether you think ribs should be fully rendered and/or fall off the bone tender, neither of which are positives for me. My baby backs are done really quickly on low, indirect heat with some smoke, less than two hours, often, which really surprised me the first time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I find this discussion interesting, especially if one considers that confinement pork breeds are actually being modified/fed to be bigger/leaner than heritage pork breeds ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Exactly. They've been fully modified for decades.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was only pointing out that size will affect cooking time.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I got it, but there is no size of "baby" back ribs that should take hours and hours of cooking, IMO. Nuff said? :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, opinoin aside there actually are baby back ribs of a size that can be cooked for hours and hours. And it doesn't depend on them being rasied in a nasty feed lot. It has to do with the size of the pig and how the baby back ribs were butchered. How many ribs it has (a large pig can have up to 17 ribs), how much loin meat is left attached to the rib and just how meaty this particular pigs ribs are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nuff said :-)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm just posting to alert you that I don't need to have the last word. ;-D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: rwags


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Your answers clear things up a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, with that much direct heat, you were likely desiccating the meat while it cooked for that long. I know with the Big Green Egg, there are some sort of heat deflector shields you put above the fuel. There may be something like that for your cooker as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OR... you could adapt the Rendezvous recipe. That in essence uses medium direct heat for about 60-90 minutes total. Half the time you cook bone side down, half the time you cook meat side down, and basting frequently.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've made this before, and it was quite good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bagofwater

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't think its cut & dry (or cut & desiccated)...just what works for you. I simply suggested the 3-2-1 method as a GUIDELINE...perhaps I should have pointed this out earlier?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Will it work for Fred Flintstone ribs? Probly not.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Will it work for sparrow ribs? Unlikely

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Will it work for pork ribs? Theoretically yes...adjust as required.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Just curious - many posters here have strong opinions about *never* parboiling or boiling ribs or even any meat or fish (see: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2938...). Although the general context is "grilling or BBQ-ing ribs", I wonder if folks here do believe that one should never parboil meaty bones of any sort at any time for any dish? (I hope not)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wow, never is a long time. 'Boil' is also a term that can be tricky. I sometimes pressure cook meat, so I suppose that is 'boiling'. Most often when I cook meat in a substantial amount of liquid I try never to let the process go past a simmer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I poach fish and I braise short ribs and chicken so yes, I am cooking other meats in liquid. I am not sure that qualifies as boiling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: NanH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      @John E and NanH (and others): Thanks, at least some other folks do treat meat and fish with hot to simmering (to boiling…) water. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is slightly off-topic but is a reflection upon many posters here exclaiming that they would NEVER boil ribs or any other meat as I referred to above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am struck in particular by the vehement post where the poster proclaims that "One never boils fish, nor should one boil meat of any kind, regardless if in beer and/or some other flavouring" [http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2938...]. Or the lead poster in another subthread [http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2938...] where it is declared that **all** (my stress) the flavor is in the foam that forms. I realize that they are talking about either grilling or BBQ-ing the ribs, but parboiling and/or boiling meaty bones DO have currency.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A poster above also commented about making pork stock [http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2938...] - but even there (for pork stock, and *certainly* for beef stock - such as for things like phở and other soups) the generally better thing to do in E/SE Asian cuisines is to parboil the ribs, bones, meaty bones, meaty neck bones (where there is usually more meat than bones) & etc; dump the parboiling water, wash the parboiled (meaty) bones, then start again with fresh water. The parboiling gets rid of gunk and blood in the scum and also makes it easier to remove excess fat and gristle before the simmer with fresh water. I've demonstrated the difference it makes to friends before by hanging on to the parboiling water, then after the bones/meaty bones have been simmering in fresh water in a second pot for a while asking them to smell the parboiling water and the second pot. The second pot has a clean, much clearer smell; while the parboiling water smells nasty.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, the meaty neck bones etc are usually tossed as-is because the taste has been largely extracted into the broth, which is what one wants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The exception is where one has very clean meaty bones to start with of the kind such such as properly cleaned/trimmed baby back ribs, which are used to make a composite soup. Bak Kut Teh, for one, where I would add the trimmed and washed ribs into water, bring to a boil and proceed with the simmer and spicing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bak_kut_teh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OTOH, if I make BKT with large spare ribs which are still somewhat bloody and don't do a parboil first the resulting soup always has a distinctly dirtier and murkier smell and taste noticeable even through the spices, if I am using a simple combination and not the more complex herbal one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ETA: I forgot about one archetypical "boiled meat": Irish corned beef. :-)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      see, e.g.: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/irish-bo... (same recipe as http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe/dann...) ; or this step-by-step-with-pictures (!! ::VBG::) instruction - http://www.gotta-eat.com/wp-content/u... - where after "medium boiling" (brisk simmer?) for ONE HOUR the water is thrown out and the brisket put back into a pot of fresh water w/ herbs etc and "medium boiling" restarted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Wow, what a mess! My advise to the OP is that your marinating technique seems perfectly fine [and maybe keep cooking for the desired fall off the bone consistency]. I'm not a parboiling guy, but lord knows I'm not about to get into the fray of the pros and cons of it. I see why people do it. I also see why people do not. My brother has become a rib master and he does not parboil. He does cook slow though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Old thread, but I've done some experiments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I found that par-boiling is fine for those who like ribs slathered with sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I prefer the sauce on the side. As a result, I do not par-boil ribs that are unsauced. My cheat here is to smoke and finish off in a low oven wrapped in foil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sounds like a winner too…will have to try that next, kind of the reverse of what we've settled on so far! And we too, like sauce on the side…we want the flavor of the meat to come through, otherwise, why bother!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. If I am cooking the ribs on the grill they get parboil with spices or use slow cooker and they are very tasty if I am going to cook them in the oven for half hour there going to stay there and I make stuffing and put it on the ribs oh there so good oh you can steam ribs also there very tasty