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Oct 13, 2007 10:46 AM

How do commercial BBQ restaurants make ribs?

I just finished some ribs from a commercial bBQ place, and as I was eating them, it occurred to me that they (like most commercial ribs I've had) were remarkably tender (that is, very easy to bite off a chunk of meat) and moist (that is, still had a lot of fat + other liquid in the meat).

Does anyone here know for sure how this is accomplished? It seems to me that the first step in this recipe must be to cook the ribs at a low temp (e.g.. 200--250), either by baking, or steaming. I can't imagine accomplishing this result by long-cooking the ribs over a heat source.

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  1. Sounds like parboiled ribs, also pejoratively known as meat Jello. This technique also guarantees that smoke won't penetrate the meat even if real wood smoke ever gets near the meat.

    1. How do commercial BBQ restaurants make their ribs? For the most part, the answer can be summed up in one word: Badly. Many (most?) either boil or steam the ribs, then finish on a grill, but that ain't BBQ. Unfortunately, real BBQ requires time, and lots of it, which does not lend itself to a 'business plan'. The best BBQ tends to come from places that close when the food runs out.

      1. In a restaurant, typically by slow cooking with wood or charcoal as a heat source, in a specialized oven. See here:

        In a home oven, one method is by braising in foil. Here's a technique that has worked for me (add whatever flavorings you like):

        1. most chain restaurants bake them in a wet environment for 2 hours then finish them with sauce on a grill to set the glaze and put "grill" makes on them.

          I agree with Ricepad. True BBQ should be done low (220F) and slow ( 4-6 hours) if they wish to call them BBQ'd ribs. This method is quite rare outside of BBQ joints.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Kelli2006

            Rare or non-existent? I'd say latter. :) Anyway, they call it BBQ cause they glaze with BBQ sauce. It's no BBQ, I tell you.

          2. Most or good places? Whenever I go to a restaurant and order BBQ pork ribs, I always ask, is it parboiled or do you smoke the meat for a long time? The chances are, they parboil them. It's easier. In order to have a heavy duty smoker, not only is it expensive but it's a long long process. You can achieve similar result if you have a smoker or outdoor grill by using indirect heat over 6 hours. I've done it only a couple of times in my Webber when I used to live in VT. I've used either bit of brandy or bourbon with water in the drop-tray when using indirect heat and the aroma of the liquor really gets in there after a while with the smoke. Good stuff. Smoker is nice since the heat is further away from the cooking surface and you can control the heat since most smokers come with a thermometer attached. Once you have the real thing, you can't go back to parboiled crap.