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Another bbq thread: Is parboiling really acceptable?

In the spirit of annually reawakening such controversial topics as authenticity, I thought another bbq argument was long overdue.

In a recent Boston thread, we got sidetracked into a parboiling argument. I was flabbergasted to hear the number of chowhounds that felt that parboiling ribs was a perfectly acceptable thing to do, and their claims that it was done everywhere.

I’m sure parboiling is done by people at home who don’t have a smoker. I’m also sure that this is a compromise product – no matter how good it tastes, it is not going to have the same texture, flavor, and look to it that a real low and slow cooked rib is going to have. But low and slow is hard to do on a weber or gas grill, especially with something as thin and unforgiving as ribs, so compromises must be made.

But it was contended that this was a standard practice for commercial operations. Other than Chili’s or TGIF, I find this difficult to believe. No legit q joint would parboil their ribs. I have driven all over the US, and had ribs everywhere from Memphis to KC to St, Louis, to OKC to Northern (east and west) NC – I have yet to penetrate the whole pig culture of the low country, but that’s on my list. I just haven’t had a parboiled rib at any real q joint. I can’t imagine that happening.

I have been smoking for over 20 years and smoke spare ribs all the time (baby backs are just too expensive to be considered cheap meats to be enhanced by low and slow over embers). To me, parboiling is never an enhancement – only a shortcut. No knowledgeable person would parboil ribs (or anything else) in order to improve its flavor or texture.

It is entirely your right, of course, to feel that parboiled ribs are delicious, even more delicious than ribs that are low and slow cooked over embers in a smoker, if that’s your preference. But you’re not going to find your preferred ribs on Beale Street or in a KCBS or NCBBQSociety sponsored event. (See Rule 6 in the KCBS Rules and Regulations.)

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  1. never acceptable, I also do not even think slowly baking them in an oven is acceptable, or allowed to be called bbq.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Boiling ribs makes broth, not barbecue.

        1. Parboiling ribs is only acceptable to make a really good tonkotsu base for ramen, but that ain't bbq, is it?

          1 Reply
          1. re: ricepad

            Yes - anytime you boil meat and use the liquid (stocks, stews, braising), the flavor is preserved in the dish that is being served. It's when you boil the meat and toss the liquid, that makes little sense.

          2. Folks, this is one of those topics that brings out the darkest, most partisan divisions in what's usually a friendly, tolerant community. We're going to ask for your utmost care in allowing all voices, including those you don't agree with, to be heard without making others wrong in the process.