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"porky" baby back ribs -- help!

what is the factor on an oven slow-cooked rack of baby backs that makes them taste (& smell) gamy or "porky"?

these i washed and trimmed of excess fat, then rubbed with everglades seasoning dry rub, put in a roasting pan and covered with foil. cooked at around 275-300 for about 2 hours or so?

should i have removed more fat, or a piece of skin on either side of the rack, or .....what didn't i do right in the prep? i know there's a big debate about par-boiling....

in other words, what prep should i do to the ribs before cooking in the oven? i don't want "porky" ribs! help me, please!

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  1. Based on: "275-300, covered, gamy", I think you braised the ribs. Did the ribs have any crunchy edges?

    I would cook uncovered for ~1 hour at ~350, then lower heat until they become tear apart tender.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alan408

      there was no liquid involved, just a dry rub. you think they steamed in their own vapor, maybe? no crunchy edges on the meat.

    2. I can only partially address this because we always "finish" the ribs on the grill for a few minutes. I cut the slabs into individual ribs, lay them in a roasting pan, salt and pepper and then lightly drizzle with olive oil. Cover pan REALLY tightly with foil and cook at 450 for 1-1/2 hours! No, those aren't typos. That's why you better crimp the dickens out of (or into that foil). They will be fork tender and flavorful at that point and I'm always shocked at how much fat has cooked out . We then brush with a little sauce (not BBQ but that's just our preference) and put on the grill 5 minutes perhaps, just enough to give some crunchies. Our friends rave. Without the grill aspect, maybe I'd take them out of the roasting pan, put them on a rack or something on a baking sheets and crisp them up in the oven. Maybe even broil with the ribs on the bottom rack of the oven? Not sure on that part but the first is a real winner. We are constantly modifying our grilling techniques (we even grill when it's snowing!) and this is our best - so far :) Good luck.

      1. I cook mine at 225 in the electric smoker for 2-3 hours with no foil. I've done the same in the oven.The only thing I can see that might add the porky flavor is the foil cover. If you go slow and low you probably wont need the foil. The rub may also be throwing a weird combo-flavor when it hits the juices and steam under the foil.

        1. You don't want to remove all the fat. The fat helps keep the meat moist and helps tenderize. The fat will render itself anyways. 250° cover for about 3 hrs. You want a little tooth to the meat.

          1. The only time I have encountered this is when the pork is not fresh. Bacon gets the same smell and taste.
            How I cook my ribs is first rub them down a few hours or the night before and bake them in the oven for about an hour at 250 in a bath of apple cider and a few shots of bourbon. I then finish them off on the Weber bbq above a water pan in indirect heat. Cooked until done. (About 3 beers for me)

            1. Did you pull the membrane off of the back of the ribs? It looks almost like a piece of plastic on the ribs. It's quite easy to get off if the ribs are fresh. Just pop one corner up and grab the corner with a paper towel and generally it just peels right off, sometimes you have to help it with a paring knife under the skin but it really makes the ribs much more tender and helps with presentation.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Grillncook

                Actually, I've heard this debated both ways. I personally find pulling that sheath off to be a pain and at times it damages the meat if not done well...even when the ribs are fresh. I find it much easier to peel it off after 3 hours of smoking when it's loosened by the cooking process...I've never sensed a bad taste as a result of waiting till afterwards. I see this as the deveined shrimp argument only applied to ribs.

              2. My impression is that you seasoned and then thru the ribs on the heat...

                In that case the outside might get crusty and seasoned but the inside will just taste like you describe...
                'Like unseasoned pig meat cooked on the hood of a parked car in August'...

                Brining, or seasoning a few hours in advance will pull flavor and salt thru the meat...

                Marinating too long will get you the opposite---- pork ribs or chicken that taste like ham...

                1. I cook mine similar to yours. I apply a dry rub then wrap the individual racks in plastic wrap and let them sit overnight in the fridge. When I'm ready to cook, I place each rack on a large piece of foil, pour a bottle of Mexican coke (I use one small bottle for two racks of ribs), and wrap each rack securely in foil. You can also use pineapple juice, apple cider, beer, almost any liquid will do. Just don't use too much.

                  I then place the racks on a cookie sheet and let them cook for 2-2.5 hours in a 350 degree oven. I don't even bother pre-heating the oven. I just put them in the stove and let them go. After they've cooked in the oven, I let them rest in the stove for about an hour after turning off the heat.

                  I then remove them from the oven, cut the racks in half, place them in a pyrex dish and baste the ribs with a thin BBQ sauce. I let them sit in the sauce for at least a couple of hours so they can absorb the sauce. They're actually good enough to eat after this step, but I like to finish them off on the grill before serving.

                  Super easy, relatively no mess in the oven and absolutely delicious.

                  1. I think you just had too much moisture and got that "boiled pork" taste & smell. Helps to put them on a rack so they don't sit in any moisture. In the oven I cover, crank heat up to 450 (maybe I am delusional but I feel it helps start the fat rendering), then after 15 minutes I go to 275. Uncover after a while checking now and again to make sure edges are not getting burnt (example if you have any sugar in your rub).

                    1. ladies and gentlemen, i put *no* liquid on or around my ribs -- zip, zero, zilch, nada!!
                      and they were *oven* roasted, not thrown on the grill.

                      my issue is how do i *prep* them so they don't smell gamy?

                      i'm taking away this, so far, from the comments:
                      rub with vinegar, or brine, then dry roast and finish under broiler or on grill....

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: alkapal

                        I think the point is that when you put foil over the ribs you, by design add "mositure" unerneath without physically adding liquid in the literal sense. It creates a steam room which can add a gamey or porky flavor to pork.

                        If you like the rub, keep that the same...just cook at 240 for about 2-3 hours with no foil over the ribs.

                        1. re: pondrat

                          ok, no foil to trap piggy smell! i have another rack, so look forward to trying your tips.

                          btw, the other "porky ribs" i put in a skillet with a little water and some more of the bbq sauce, and gently cooked them for a while longer. they were much more tender, and made a good chopped pork sandwich. the porkiness dissipated, too.

                      2. I would skip the roasting pan. Put the slab of ribs directly on some heavy duty foil, wrap up, and bake. I would do 2 hours at 325 or so, or 3 hours at 300. Then either stick the uncovered ribs under the broiler or finish them on the grill (which is what I do).

                        You essentially steamed your ribs by covering them -- meat contains natural juices which creates steam when covered.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: boogiebaby

                          boogiebaby, wrap up the ribs? why then should i skip the roasting pan? everyone is sayin' that the steam heat from enclosure makes them "porky"? i'm just trying to figure out the stink/taste factor.....

                          1. re: alkapal

                            With a pan, you're putting the foil on top of the pan, and creating an open space above the ribs where the steam builds and collects. Skip the roasting pant and wrap the rib in foil -- no open space, less steam.

                            I think you didn't cook them long enough, hence the porky smell/taste. It's like steaming a bone in pork chop in a covered skillet. You need to cook them longer so the natural juices evaporate and condense the flavor. You cooked them long enough to draw the moisture out, but not long enough to condense it. Finishing them in the broiler or on the grill will also add some char, which also contributes to the flavor.

                            I take 2 slabs of ribs, rub with a blend of cayenne, black pepper, brown sugar and salt and wrap each tightly in foil. I put these on the center rack and bake for 2 1/2-3 hours at 300 degrees. Then I put the grill on high, and throw the ribs on. I baste with BBQ sauce (or sometimes leave them as is) and grill for several minutes to give them some nice carmelization. They always get rave reviews -- the meat is moist and tender from the baking but still has a nice bite to the exterior from the grilling.

                            1. re: boogiebaby

                              bbbb-baby: i think you have nailed it! thanks!!

                        2. Fair question as you mentioned that you "washed" the ribs:
                          Were these Hormel packaged ribs or similar (ribs cryovaced in a brine/salt solution)? I have found these ribs to possess a strange, almost scratch-and-sniff, overly "porky" flavor the few times I have used them. These you must wash because they have a somewhat gelled brine solution clinging to them when you remove them from the packaging. If so, I would suggest fresh ribs the next time out.

                          FWIW, never boil ribs before cooking unless you want a side of rib stock.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: CDouglas

                            I have to chime in on the cryovac stuff. The first time I bought it I returned it to the store because it smelled truly horribly "off". They said all the cryovac does that! I guess I could have done a salt rub and bath massage thing and then proceeded, but once that smell gets in your nose it is over.

                            1. re: CDouglas

                              CDouglas, yes, my ribs were cryovaced. I think I read somewhere here on chow that it is good to let the meat in cryovac packages sit out for a bit to let the odor dissipate? Although my ribs weren't "porky" smelling when I opened the package. And I bought them from Harris Teeter, certainly reputable for quality.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                I shop at Harris Teeter but buy my ribs at Whole Foods. The fresh Niman Ranch baby backs they have are the best I have used at home.

                                When I get them home I pull the membrane and then wash them with vinegar to remove any blood spotting and to slightly tenderize the exterior. I dock the meat between the ribs with the tines of a fork and then apply my dry rub and let rest, wrapped, over night.

                                The next day I let them sit out on the counter for 1 hour before bringing the oven up to 200. I cook them meat side up, uncovered for 6 hours, turning the pan from front to back on occasion to look like I am doing something.

                                At the 6 hour mark (or when the meat has pulled back from the rib ends by 1/4 inch or so) I pull the ribs and paint them with bacon grease (yeah, yeah, I know...) and then either run them under the broiler or put them on the grill for a few minutes so the bacon grease glazes on the surface. I then paint the ribs one last time with BBQ sauce mixed with honey and broil/grill them again until the surface caramelizes just enough for me and my crowd.

                                To serve, I alternate-cut the bones (rib in the middle with meat on both sides; saving every other "meatless" bone for the cook).

                                The bacon grease adds a slight glazed smokiness that cooking indoors just can't otherwise get right and BBQ sauce never seems to deliver enough of.


                            2. I was taught by my Dad that when buying pork to look for the palest of all meat.
                              I had to rewrite my response several times. I am going to say that the darker the pork meat, the more adrenalin that has gone through the animal's system and leave it at that. Hence an off putting/strong gamey taste.

                              1. You dont have to put them in an oven you can make foil pouches twice around to lock in the juices and put them on the grill for about 45 minutes then take off foil and get grill marks on them and finish cooking. During the last 15 minutes you can put your favorite bbq sauce. there are some good recipes and tips at www.cookingandgrillinoutdoors.com

                                1. alkapal, when I do babyback ribs I prep like you did, I trim the skirt (if there is any) but leave most fat. I also leave plain, and sorry but I do this, micro wave with a piece of paper ( I buy it in the box, non wax) covering the top, about 7 minutes per side. take them out of the juice, and then I use my own homemade bbq sauce on the bbq and cook on a low heat. Babybacks don't need to fall off the bone. Perfect every time. We've used dry and wet applications on the baby back ribs and they always are great.
                                  Spare ribs that's a different slow cooking in the oven story.

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                    cchick, you micro for 14 minutes as prep, then roast? or what?

                                    and i was intrigued by your self-editing of your post on the "adrenaline" that has coursed through the porker's body affecting the color of the raw meat and the smell of the meat when cooked. please 'splain, lucy!

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      Oh You.
                                      Are you sure? You might want to go to a site that talks about hog butchering as well...but here is what I have learned. There is and should be a huge preparation for the slaughter, one is to not feed the animal the day before but giving water,not cruel, a necessary step prior to butchering.

                                      Then they should be slaughtered quickly. Huge slaughter houses now use a stun gun, stunning the animal and then a blunt trauma instrument(mechanical) to the head, killing them instantly (hopefully). Sometimes humans when working in this environment slip (physically-like lose their grasp), and the animal will get excited, forcing blood and adrenaline thorugh their systems. Just like human the fear and flight factor comes about instinctively.

                                      My Dad, told me to avoid buying the darker pork meats, because the animal experienced excitemement and trauma beforehand foricng the heart rate up/pressure and then blood and adrenaline is surging throughout the animals body, and so the meat will be darker because of the blood. Not going to make you sick, it just has an off putting taste. Afterward, they extract everything internal, drain the blood,but keep in mind the blood isn't going to come out of the tissue at this point and once butchered will show flash bleeding or darker meat.
                                      My Dad and I were shopping together and he showed me what the differences were so I could see what he meant and he coming from a farming background in Nebraska, believe him.

                                      Afterwards, with absolute pristine conditions, and quick action with the rest of the process, and then chillingthe pig for 24hrs, helps. I'm not trying to convert anyone or start a PETA thing, just let you know what I know. I love pork, I'm not going to give it up, but I am careful as to what I buy and go by the color of the meat when it comes to pork. That is a giveaway to the outcome of the flavor of the pork and the way to avoid that undesirable strong taste. So far in my area, Costco's pork is the best, so you might want to check out their meat department.
                                      If this offends anyone I apologize.

                                      The truth isn't always pretty but necessary, and I do want to know where my food comes from and all that goes along, so I can get what I paid for and enjoy a good meal.

                                      Okay the micro-wave cooking. I know there are people rolling their eyes. I do the same thing with large pieces of dark meat chicken. I have always always received compliments on juicy flavorful (never raw) chicken when it comes to bbq.

                                      I know you wash the ribs, pat dry and then chill. right?
                                      Cut the ribs where they will fit (not each rib) into the largest baking dish that will fit in the mw, in mine I cut the rack in half. Then for 7 or so mins ea side, depending on the size & mw, you will have to look at them to see doneness. I leave them a little pink. I cover with a paper that I get at Smart & Final two sheets laid across the top. Its not tight like plastic so they aren't steaming. You can season them first or not, I've done them both ways. Then, if you have time let them cool, save the juice for your sauce, and either start marinating them or slather on your sauce and lay on the grill for normal bbq. On the lower heat so they still cook, but the outer sauce does not burn. I don't cook them any other way. I've tried maiking them in the oven & slow roasting, but I don't like ribs where the meat falls off the bone. You know where you take a bite, and the whole thing slips off in one piece, and you have a bare bone? We like to bite and knaw, and use extra sauce, and enjoy every bit of the ribs.

                                      Ok Alkapal, now I know what's for dinner. Cheesy mashed potatoes, baby back ribs with my homemade bbq sauce, and creamy garlicky spinach. And a homemade ice cream with fig and raspberry swirl, with a shortbread cookie.....

                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                        chef chicklet, thanks for that full explanation. i'm gonna look for the pale meat, now! and i will try your microwave pre-cook. yes, i agree about fall off the bone-ribs. it takes some of the eating pleasure away, as you say.

                                        aren't you looking forward to autumn flavors and dishes? i sure am!

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          omg YES!!!

                                          Are you looking Fall dishes and recipes too? I can't wait to bake bread, and make a big chicken pot of chicken and dumplings!
                                          I have been eyeing the cans of pumkin and the pureed butternut squash in my pantry and freezer, just dreaming of good things... Soup, and muffins, and so much more...I love Fall so much. And then, and then... Christmas!!!

                                          Oh oops, back to the swine.
                                          Hey but you answered rather quickly, I wanted to add something that I think helps when you do end up with a dark piece of pork.

                                          The Portugese, and Greeks use vinegar & oregano, lemon, (acid based marinades) or white wine. If you marinate your pork or lamb overnight with oregano, bay, red pepper flakes,black pepper, and garlic,slice the meat thinnish, you can avoid that taste. But you do need a marinade at least 24 hrs. I realize baby back ribs are not appropriate for these marinades, but in case...makes me think that might of been a reason to use the acids, since gaminess was more prevalent back then when pigs had more of a carnivore diet, and lamb was really gamey tasting...

                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                            i'm definitely going to try the vinegar soak! maybe with some red pepper flakes in it.

                                            i got to thinking about fall when i was looking at an old food & wine magazine "holidays" issue, and a beautiful mushroom bisque was photographed. there was also a recipe in the issue for pumpkin pancakes! and i have an old southern living recipe for a sweet potato cake with a coconut "frosting" that is out of this world! these say cool weather, burning leaves, drives in the countryside, clear sunlight, crisp air, and parties with family and friends!

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              I forgot to tell you that marinade also needs water,and olive oil. You know how to mix, just taste it. 24 hours, you will love it, and use like 2 big tablespoons of oregano. goodness.
                                              I did the ribs, and I mw, them like I said. They came out great, cheesy mashed potatoes with scallions, and garlic butter zuchinni, instead of the spinach.

                                              Yes indeedy, your mushroom bisque sound very good, and all the rest I adore sweet potato!!!! Hurry on Fall!!!!!

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                What is your avatar? Everytime I look at it, I think of Phantom of the Opera! And I know its not a mask, but some design of sorts....what is it?
                                                I'll check back.

                                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                                  it is a moebius strip: "a one-sided nonorientable surface obtained by cutting a closed band into a single strip, giving one of the two ends thus produced a half twist, and then reattaching the two ends" http://mathworld.wolfram.com/MoebiusS...

                                                  (it is m-o-with an umlaut- b-i-u-s) (i still don't know how to put tildes, accents, etc. help!)

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    What are you a math teacher? You lost me at "nonorientable..." oh well... I still think of the Phanton Of the Opera....and I still love you, you twisted thinker. Thank goodness you can cook!

                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                      believe me, chef c, i would never have those words (or concepts) to describe it. i have just always thought it was cool to think of/look at. love you too (is that allowed on chowhound? ;-) cheers!

                                                2. re: alkapal

                                                  i re-discovered the cake recipe. it is awesomely delicious! trust me!

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    Here we are again, at almost the same time of year.. okay so we're a little early. And once again, we're inching our way back into a discussion toward Fall foods! I love seeing previous treads brought back to life!

                                                    Are you having thoughts about baking and wines? Our crush is only a couple months off. And do you see big pots of savory stews and heavenly pot pies in your future?? I am.

                                                    Thank you for posting this delicious sounding cake recipe, I'm bookmarking this thread once again just in case!

                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                      chef c, today i was IN FACT just thinking that it'll be autumn soon enough. wow, where has the summer gone? speaking of pot pies, i just saw sunny anderson's little video of a shrimp "pot pie" that is really a shrimp vol-au-vent. recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sh...
                                                      video: http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/new...
                                                      (i'd use sherry or some ouzo for part of the wine; plus, i think i'd just buy the little frozen puff pastry bowls from pepperidge farm).
                                                      i love me some shrimp!

                                                      i didn't know you had a vineyard. neat!

                                                      and you've got to got to got to try that cake.

                                                      PS you need to add your peach and grand marnier jam to your photos at your profile page. i know you have other photos that don't seem to be there, too (or at least i thought so).

                                      2. I have wondered about this smell, too. I don't think it's the cooking method. I always use the same method (rub, wrap in foil, put in pyrex and bake at 225 5 hrs.) and only some times get this smell. I agree it might be a freshness issue. The last time I smelled this off putting smell, I paid top dollar and bought it from Whole Foods. I should have returned it.

                                        1. I've never needed to trim baby backed ribs. I cook mine just like you, dry rub, 275-300 about 2 hours, then I unwrap them, brush lightly with BBQ sauce of choice and put back in the oven for 15-20 mins to crisp up. No problem with gaminess, which I have experienced in my preparation of pork (for tacos) which tends toward boiling or steaming. However, gaminess disappears when I shred and add tacos sauce. So I think you just need to add one more step to eliminate the "gamey" smell.

                                          1. As came up on another thread here, a very good American cook once taught me to give pork ribs (and pork generally) a half-hour soak in vinegar before moving on to anything else (rubs, marinades, braising, grilling, whatever). It seems to be a good way to get that American flavor profile -- I use it as my secret un-italianizing technique.

                                            1. Let me get this straight, you don't want your pork ribs to taste like porkt? Have you tried turkey ribs? Makes as much sense at turkey backon, turkey burgers, etcl...

                                              Just pulling your leg. I have nothing constructive to add to the thread but since you're always nice enough to comment on my threads, I just thought I'd say "'hey!"

                                              1. I do lots of ribs for tailgaters, will do some in a couple of weeks for tailgater at Autzen Stadium.

                                                First I buy babybacks at Costco, I get a whole case and get an additional 25% off. A case is 7 three packs.

                                                Just like competition I pull all the membrains before putting rub on. Then I hit with a light dusting of Bone Smokers Rub. Sometimes will use Smoking Guns Rub.

                                                Ribs go on smoker at 240 setting, 100% hickory pellets. They will be done in 4 hours and 15 minutes, same every time. If I want to sauce them we put it on about 20 minutes before the ribs are done.

                                                They are perfect every time, not falling off bone but with just a little tug, just the way I like them.

                                                1. In 40 years of cooking ribs, I've never had ribs that tasted "samy." Probably just from a bad hog-raiser. But then, I've never heard the term "porky."

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: mpalmer6c

                                                    mpalmer, you are indeed blessed. you've never had gamy pork? even wild boar?

                                                    and the term "porky" i'm sure was not invented by me.

                                                  2. An outside possibility --- You experienced "boar taint" ---- Meat from an un-castrated hog -- a smell and taste you will not soon forget. While there are cautions taken all along the way from growers, to processors, etc....one does slip through on occasion...There is no way to mask the smell or taste.

                                                    Have Fun!