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Ribs in vinegar?

I'm trying a new recipe tonight for barbecued baby back ribs. The recipe (from a grilling-related cookbook) calls for soaking the ribs in vinegar for at least four hours. Then you drain and dry them and marinate them in a rub (brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic, etc.) for two hours. After that, you grill them and finish them off with barbecue sauce for the last twenty minutes. Any idea what the vinegar soak does? I've never come across that step. (I'm never happy with my ribs, so I keep trying new recipes!)Thanks.

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  1. The best cook I know does a vinegar soak (followed by a water rinse and paper towel dry)to her poultry and beef. Chicken is always crisp and moist and beef is always delectable and tender. She told me that the vinegar leaches out the blood. I don't have any idea if it really does, or if that is a plus, but it does something good.

    5 Replies
    1. re: kiwi

      The blood should all be gone by the time you buy the meat.

      The vinegar marinates the meat in a way similar to wine. It infused flavor and the acid in the vinegar stimulates your glands when you eat it, releasing salava that tenderizes the meat. The acid may have a small effect itself in tenderizing the meat.

      1. re: kiwi

        How long, and what proportion of vinegar to other ingredients (if any) does she use? It seems reminiscent of the brining craze that has been so popular recently, and I'd like to try it.

        1. re: Marsha

          I believe it's only about 30 minutes. I think she uses straight apple cider vinegar, not white vinegar. That's all that's in the soak. She's been doing it that way for probably 50 years. Ofcourse it's possible that she's insane and that the vinegar doesn't have anything to do with blood leaching, but that it's simply the acidity that tenderizes. It may just be that she buys really good meats. I don't know where you are located Marsha, but if you are in the Los Angeles area, she has always gotten all of her meat and poultry at Marconda's at the Farmer's Market on 3rd. Good luck.

          1. re: kiwi

            Actually, I had a butcher teach me this method of cooking ribs in a slow cooker. He said that the vinegar breaks down the ligaments and tenderizes the meat. It works everytime I do it and now even my mother-in-law uses this method.

          2. re: Marsha

            Brining and marinating aren't exactly the same thing, but they serve common purposes: to make the food taste better. A brine essentially adds salt to the interior of the food. A vinegar marinade injects flavors (in this case cider) and acid.

        2. Can you please post this recipe, and/or give the name of the grilling cookbook you referred to? Thanks!

          1. The cookbook is called Grilling: Delicious Recipes for Outdoor Grills by Louise Pickford.The recipe is called Smoky Spareribs. The vinegar did add a nice flavor, but the next time I make this I'll just do the vinegar and the rub and leave off the barbecue sauce. Guess I'm just not a sauce fan.

            3 Replies
            1. re: The Librarian

              yes always done it this way, my mum taught me, red wine vinegar then brown sugar, spices and some ketchup (yep). Fab on lamb chops too.

              1. re: The Librarian

                My homemade BBQ is always based on a combo of apple cider vinegar and brown sugar. The vinegar adds a really nice tang and I think it does make the meat more tender.

                In fact, I brought home pork chops the other day without thinking what I'd do with them. I grabbed a big ziplock bag and poured in balsamic, a glug of oj, fresh lemon juice, crushed red pepper, fresh black pepper, a little sea salt and apricot preserves. Let them hang in the fridge overnight and threw them on the grill the next evening. Man, they were tasty and tender!

                1. re: mojoeater

                  There is a recipe in the New York Cookbook by Molly O'neil that has a recipe called Sylvia's ribs. You soak them the night before in Vinegar. DEEEEElicious. I love them this way. The vinegar penetrates the meat for flavor and tenderness. The acid breaks down the toughness.

              2. I always use vinegar (white, red wine, apple cider, or balsamic) in pork marinades along with lemon juice, lime juice, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce in more or less equal parts for about 24 hours. The acids begin 'cooking' the meat and it goes a little brown, but it's OK. I think the acids add great flavour.
                For a rub, start with 1/2 cup of brown sugar and add some of everything you like from your spice rack. Make sure you taste it. Keep in mind that some spices don't have much of an aroma. I rub and refrigerate for another 24 hours. I've heard that more than 4 hours doesn't make a difference, but the rub sets up nicely in that time.

                1 Reply
                1. re: El Puerco

                  Just thought I'd mention that you have a pretty good avatar, Puerco.

                2. My last two batches of ribs I have been rinsing the ribs in white vinegar, and then rubbing the ribs with just plain yellow mustard before applying the rub, and refrigerating. The vinegar wash, and the vinegar based yellow mustard make the ribs seemingly more tender, and the mustard allows the rub to stick a little better. I plan on continuing to use this method as I have been pleased with the results.