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Jul 19, 2007 01:22 PM

Ribs - grilling vs. braising vs. boiling

I am preparing ribs for a trip to the beach with my family, with the goal to cook the ribs (on a charcoal grill) at home, drive them to the beach, and reheat them on a gas grill.

I have prepared ribs two different ways, both of which are quite good in my opinion: grilling over lower heat with moistened woodchips to produce smoke on a covered grill; and braising ribs in a liquid (which is then reduced to a sauce) and then finishing them over direct heat. I also understand some folks boil the ribs first, which just doesn't sound like as much fun to me. I would not, however, consider myself an expert on the topic, and certainly have no idea which method would be best for pre-cooking and finishing the next night over a gas grill.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the differences between these methods, which works best, and whether the smoked, grill-only ribs might dry out in the intervenening day? I've already searched the boards which provided some info, but hope for some more specificity or different experiences - thanks.

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  1. The only reason to boil ribs is if you're going to be making pork soup. Other than that, it's really up to you. Alton Brown does a braised rack of ribs that look mighty tasty (mind, he is very clear that they are NOT bbq), so you can follow his method and probably be very satisfied. You could do a genuine bbq using real wood/charcoal, low and slow, then re-heat on your gas grill (probably the way I would do it, but I don't moisten the wood/wood chips, because that only adds steam).

    I think no matter which way you do it, as long as they're not overcooked to begin with, you wrap them tightly, and only heat them long enough to warm them to eating temperature, dryness should not be an issue.

    1. I smoke my ribs using well-seasoned hickory and mesquite logs (available in LA at Barbecues Galore) in a Weber smoker. Takes about 8 hours. Since we often have get-togethers at my sister-in-law's, proud owner of a gas grill (don't ask me why) I often reheat them the next day on the grill with excellent results. Prior to getting the smoker I would steam the ribs over an aromatic brew and finish them on the grill. Tasted great, but pales in comparison with the smoked ribs.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ebethsdad

        Anything other than slow smoked is NOT barbecue, it is just cooked pork. While I normally use my indirect smoker, firebox on the side, I have had some success with indirect smoking in my gas grill. Ribs over cold side, wood chip package on hot side, 250 degrees, six hours minimum for spare rbis, two to three four baby backs.

        1. re: phneale

          Just cooked pork? What's wrong with that? BBQ is good, but not an ethereal substance. A slow roast without smoke is perfectly good eats. So is a braise, or a braise finished with frying (carnitas).


          1. re: phneale

            Although I do not totally agree with phneale's NOT comment, I will say that this method on the gas grill is best, for the ribs I would infuse the smoke in the first hour or so if you dont prefer heavy smoke taste, never at the end of cooking times, I would go for about 3 hours on the baby backs and once you take them off of the grill wrap them in foil for about 20 minutes before cutting apart, this will hold in most of the mosture and tenderize them a little more before serving ;-)

        2. There was a fairly recent thread that touched on this topic (reheating ribs):


          I am no rib expert, though I have made them a handful of times, but for what it's worth I agree with ricepad. Boiling just seems like a bad idea. I'd think braised is fine if you like really wet saucy ribs (which I don't, but that's just me. I'm a dry-rub only kinda gal.) Either way, I think foiling and gently reheating to eating temp is a fine approach. You could also do the rub and smoke/dry indirect heat till done method and them sauce and glaze on the gas grill later if the caramelized sauce type of rib tickles your fancy.