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yes, i know, the subject has been broached before.
i am catering a party of 150 or so this july fourth. due to space limitations, i have to parboil, or parbraise my spareribs.
most of what i have read has completely condemned the parboil method, not worth the flavor lost.
i am wondering if a slow braise the day before in apple juice and some broth or something else would help me shorten the grilling time without losing the flavor.
help! please!

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  1. I prebraise/steam ribs all the time. I find they come out far more tender. If you are doing a rack, be sure to rip the silverskin or whatever the technical term is for it off the back of the ribs.

    Nix the boiling.

    3 Replies
      1. re: scubadoo97

        THANK YOU. I gave up on my memorybanks. I lost the key a while back and tried jimmying the locks and finally gave up and went for silverskin. Lordy gordy.

        1. re: Sal Vanilla

          Mine happen to be firing at that moment. Happens every so often, now where did I leave my keys?

    1. Do not boil or braise. You will lose too much flavor to the liquid. I would suggest using a dry rub and either slow roasting or steaming and then finishing on the grill. Steaming will give you that falling off the bone tenderness and the slow roasting will give you a bit more chew and concentration of flavor.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chefj

        You know you lose goodness in steaming too right? And then when you grill. There is always a trade off.

        1. re: Sal Vanilla

          Not the way you lose flavor boiling.

      2. How many slabs, and what kind of ribs do you plan on serving????
        If you perform this act of Heresy....What kind/type/size appliance to you have to "grill" them on afterwords...

        1. I'm curious as to how you'd make them without this space limitation. If you would smoke them, I can see how you'd not have room in the smoker. But if you're not smoking them I'd assume you'd be cooking them in an oven, no? And if so, why not do just that? Why boil or braise?

          1 Reply
          1. re: tommy

            That's kinda where my thoughts were heading Tommy...But the OP needs to supply additional information........

          2. I don't know what you'd call it but always rub with whatever & then seal up tightly in foil and put in a low oven--250 --for about 2-3 hours. Cool & pour off fat. Refrigerate overnight, take out ahead of time so they are room temp & put on the grill with sauce for about 15 minutes or till glazed & browned. I use lots of wood chips so they are nice & smoky & also use smoked paprika in my rub.

            34 Replies
              1. re: runwestierun

                And I concur. Slow roasting concentrates rather than dilutes the flavors. I've parboiled and steamed and slow-roasted, and will never introduce a rib to water again.

                I do not fear or demur from using liquid smoke, by the way. It's just smoke residue, the same fine carcinogen that gets on the meat if you do it natural-like, and used in moderation is objectionable only if you hate having your hands smell like that. But the smoked paprika is a good move.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  When he said spareribs, in my neck of the woods that means country style ribs. The ones that are meatier and not cut into racks like babyback or other cuts of ribs.

                  Can the country ribs take the rub and slow roast method too? I'm thinking that it might make them fall apart into small pcs since there isn't a rack to hold them together.

                  No? Yes? Thanks!

                  1. re: breadchick

                    Yes, I do the same with c-s style ribs, and the spare and baby back. They all come out tender and juicy.

                    And no, c-s ribs don't usually fall apart, they are actually cut from the shoulder.

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      Gotcha. Thanks for the info. Now I will run out and get them for this weekend since the hubs loves him some ribs.

                      1. re: Phurstluv

                        country ribs are not cut from the shoulder. they are cut from the front of the rib section.

                        1. re: tommy

                          I am quoting from my local store's circular this week: "Pork Shoulder Country Style Ribs".

                          1. re: Phurstluv

                            Spare ribs are primarily most of the rib cage of a hog including the breast bone..With the breast bone (brisket) removed they become St Louis Cut Spare Ribs...Sometimes you will see (or mostly hear) of Kansas City Cut Spare Ribs... Where in addition to the removal of the breast bone the inside flap of meat ( remainder of the diaphragm ) is removed/trimmed off.. Both the St Louis, and the KC cuts have the small end trimmed off to "square up" the slab.~~ At the end of the day the difference in the two is mostly about intrastate rivalry baloney!.

                            Country Style Ribs ~~ The North American Meat Processors Association says that country style ribs "shall be prepared from the blade end of a bone-in pork loin, and shall include not less than three ribs, and no more than six...plus some additional technical cutting.... They don't seem to be as fashionable as they once were...The "trendy" loin back ribs have the public's favor right now...and loin backs are just country style with loin meat removed (boneless pork loins)...Wonder why anyone would choose loin back over country style?? I suppose they would rather have the trendy Hoity Toity, Artsy Fartsy "baby back" ribs... Even when 99% if them are not true 'baby backs" anyway.

                            Very commonly you will see another "Country Style Rib" in your grocers meat case. These are cut from the shoulder...specifically the butt portion....Obviously they are not "ribs" at all...they are just pork butt sliced/cut into strips...Once long ago in my area these "ribs" were labeled as "Western Style Ribs" to differentiate from true "Country Style"....I've not seen them labeled that way in years...So when your retailer advertises "Country Style Ribs...Are they true Country Style (from the blade end of the loin...or are they cut from the shoulder/butt?? Truth in labeling law says that somewhere on the package it must say what part of the hog the meat came from...I often see in bold print.. Country Style Ribs...in small print over in a corner...Pork shoulder...Or as in the example of my friend Phurstluv's store circular "Pork Shoulder Country Style Ribs" they are telling you the meat is cut from the shoulder/butt ~~~ In my area those cut from the shoulder dominate the store's displays and advertising....True Country Style are few and far between, but I do find them occasionally in Kroger stores...Most of the time I buy them from a small local processor. HTH

                            1. re: Uncle Bob

                              Thank you, my friend, for the validation.

                            2. re: Phurstluv

                              stores and "butchers" tend to not have much of an idea of what they are talking about and seem to ignore the NAMP guidelines more often than not. Since they are stating "pork shoulder" on your store's flyer, there's a good chance they are slicing up pork shoulder, or at least the part of the shoulder near the rib cage.

                              The country style ribs in my parts are labeled just as that, and are in line with what the NAMP states. Uncle Bob has done a nice job explaining the NAMP guidelines. I've never seen a product with "shoulder" and "country style ribs" on the labeling, but I'll keep my eye out.

                              1. re: tommy

                                The shoulder cut are the most prevalent here in the grocery stores in LA. On very few occasions do we see a true country-style rib, cut from the loin.

                                1. re: Phurstluv

                                  I'm looking forward to doing a taste-test!

                                2. re: tommy

                                  Tommy it is my understanding of the Truth In Labeling Laws that the package must state where the meat is cut from...If the package states "Country Style Ribs"...then supposedly somewhere on the label it must also say Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt or whatever...This may be in small print and pre-printed on the label...In other words not generated at store/retail level...In the example that Phurstluv gave, the retailer was covering his bases by stating "Pork Shoulder (where the meat came from) Country Style Ribs" ~~~ Of course the same folks who regulate/enforce Truth In Labeling Laws may be the same folks who regulate/enforce Deep Water Off Shore Drilling....So there's no telling what one may see out there.........


                                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                                    Now I'm very curious to get to the store to see if there's any fine print. I don't recall seeing any. But I do think these are packaged at the store level 'round here. Which means that anything can go. This is interesting.

                                    1. re: tommy

                                      I can't find a link to the act...Isn't that always the case!

                                      Basically/generally it says the meat description has to describe the physical property of the cut, not a colloquial rendering of the cut....

                                      You can create a label at store level that says anything you want....

                                      "Tommy's Tremendous Tasting Ribs" in bold print for example...but the label must also include.. Pork Spare Ribs or whatever somewhere...That is my understanding of it anyway......

                                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                                        Don't they have to now also label the origin of the meat & fish? Seems in my markets, they are always telling you where the beef / poultry / fish was raised.

                                        1. re: Phurstluv

                                          Yes! It's the Country Of Origin Label...or COOL...All product must show/state Country of Origin....As in Frozen Shrimp....Product of China etc. Fresh seafood and fresh meat cases are supposed to state the same information....Catfish...Product of USA Tilapia...Product of Taiwan ...etc.

                                    2. re: Uncle Bob

                                      well, I just went to the store and I'll be darned if the ribs don't say "loin" on them, which reconciles with what I've seen for years. So I'm thinking this is a regional thing, as I've never noticed shoulder county style ribs, and that certainly would have jumped out at me.

                                      So here are Phurst and me on opposite ends of the country, with different perspectives and experiences. And Bob's your uncle!

                                      1. re: tommy

                                        I would love to have an Uncle like Bob!! LOL!

                                        So, you're telling me in Jersey, they don't tell you what kind of meat it is, as in loin, round, etc.? What's up with that?

                                        1. re: Phurstluv

                                          Maybe this is another regional thing: when I say "i'll be darned if they don't", that means that they do. :) "Pork loin country style ribs." That's what we have here, and that's how they are labeled.

                                          Since I'm aware of the NAMP guidelines which dictate that country style ribs come from the loin (not the shoulder, from what I can tell), it never jumped out at me. But I bet if I were in Safeway and saw "shoulder country style ribs", it would jump right out at me. :)

                                          1. re: tommy

                                            Aaaah, sorry, yes sometimes I get cornfused ;))

                                            But I get ya, and it very well may be a regional thing, we seem to have the shoulder variety here more often than the loin variety, which I also am partial to.

                                          2. re: Phurstluv

                                            But you do have an "Uncle Bob" (aka Rhett) my dear!

                                            1. re: Uncle Bob

                                              Yes, I do and I sure do Give a Damn!!

                                          3. re: tommy

                                            Truth In Labeling Laws are Nation Wide....Yes there are regional nomenclatures! That's why it's confusing to us sometimes...A New York Strip Can be called a KC Strip, or Sirloin Strip, yada yada, yada, It's the same cut of beef. A retailer could label it Strip Club Filet if they chose to, but somewhere on that package it's supposed to say Beef Short Loin...or something to that effect.

                                            1. re: Uncle Bob

                                              I don't recall seeing labels like 'beef short loin'. Is that a NAMP thing, or USDA? Or neither. I tend to buy my beef from Asian groceries like HMart and 99Ranch. Some of their cuts are quite different from 'ordinary' groceries (how do you cook drop flank? long, long, long).

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Truth in Labeling is FDA....I wouldn't think Asian retailers would be exempt...Under the radar? Maybe so...Like many things..enforcement is often times lax..

                                                1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                  USDA does grading right?

                                                  Can you point to FDA regulations on meat, specifically cuts? I can understand FDA regulations that have to do with health, but not butchering practices (which vary by country).

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    The grading system is USDA...Prime, Choice, Select etc.
                                                    The FDA does not regulate butchering/slaughtering practices...That falls under the USDA federal inspection program...
                                                    The FDA regulates TRUTH IN LABELING...In simplest of terms it says you cannot label the Box as Cheerios and put Cornflakes IN the box...That would be deceiving/lieing to the consumer....TRUTH IN LABELING means the label must state exactly what is in the package..For further information call 1-888-463-6332....

                          2. re: sparkareno

                            Thhat is basically how I do it. I put the ribs on a rack in a low roaster with water or beer or a mix below and seal those ribs up inside. Sometimes I roast a little ahead of time.

                            With country ribs I make char siu in this method. I glom on the BBQ sauce, steam like above and then crank on the broiler and baste and turn until they are dark, sticky, crispy on the outside and fall apart soft inside. Or I move them to the grill after steaming. HEAVEN. My husband groans when eating them.

                            I freeze the leftovers. Add them to other meals later. The come out well.

                            You know, I bet you could use the boiling liquid and the fat drippings to make a nice BBQ sauce.

                            1. re: Sal Vanilla

                              That sounds good, Sal V. I've never made char siu before. Now that my local store no longer carries it premade, I am wanting to try your method. Is there a particular bbq sauce that you use that is Chinese or asian, or will any bbq sauce work?

                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                I have used a few myself, but I think thicker works best. Right now I like a BBQ sauce by Koon Chun, Tilt the bottle, if it does not move or moves slothlike - you have a good one. Sometimes I dope it up a little.. I usually scoop out some and add sesame oul and hot chili vinegar and brush a small amount on for the steam session. Sometimes I let the pork marinade in BBQ sauce (or doped BBQ) and then steam. I am not sure it makes a huge diff. While you are doing the final step where you make them into pork candy, just make sure to keep the heat blasting, keep turning and glopping on the sauce. I like them dark and sticky and crunchy.

                                With the country ribs I cut the ribs longway and in half - sometimes more or less so I have good size strips and chunks. That way I get more crispy. I cut before steaming.

                                Round one white sticky rice - sometimes with bitter greens, sometimes with gingery stir fry veggies.

                                They are really good on the grill - with the high heat (or good flame) and turning and basting. Either way.

                                Hmmm... more than you asked. I heart pork. Oink.

                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                  I heart pork too.

                                  Thanks for the info, I will look out from some Chinese bbq sauce, the thicker the better. Even if I have to make a trip into Chinatown.

                                  You mean on the grill, after they have been steamed, right? And about how long do you steam them for? Thanks.

                                  1. re: Phurstluv

                                    Yep after steaming.

                                    How long steaming depends on the size of the pork hunks. At least a couple hours. After a couple hours unseal it and pull at a bigger piece. It should threaten to fall apart. Resist popping it into your mouth. It is 10 times better after the shellacking.

                                    1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                      No doubt, thanks for the info. And I looked in my local market, and of course could find nothing that resembled chinese barbecue sauce, so off to Chinatown I will go to find something thick & sweet.

                          3. Yes, I slow roast them first, after dry brining with a rub for at least a day, in a mixture of apple juice, apple cider vinegar and coca cola. They get very tender when roasted at about 300, tightly covered in foil, then you slap them on a preheated grill to crisp up and sauce them, only for about ten minutes, depending on how hot your fire is.

                            1. PLEASE dont do it unless youre going to serve a mug of the liquid with it.

                              Thats where all your flavor goodness will have escaped to.

                              Take the time to smoke or at least indirect smoke them. Stack em, rotate em, whatever you must do.

                              1. I'm curious how long (in minutes) are you all talking about "par" boiling? I give mine a brief plunge in bubbly - just long enough to get heat into the bone before throwing on more rub and going into the smoker for 4 - 6 hours (baby backs/spares). The hot water bath takes maybe a minute, maybe two - hardly long enough to loose any more flavor than what will drip out naturally during the smoking process. But then, my ribs never see any direct heat over a "grill".

                                16 Replies
                                1. re: CocoaNut

                                  I'm curious why you give them a 1 minute, maybe 2 hot water bath...In your opinion, what is the advantage to doing this......


                                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                                    "just long enough to get heat into the bone"

                                  2. re: CocoaNut

                                    This is what I think of when parboiling is mentioned. Basically this removes surface scum, bone cuttings, and such. It does little to tenderize the meat, and little to no flavor is lost.

                                    Braising, or slow oven roasting in a covered pan, finished with time on a grill, or hotter oven, is quite another thing. This is also different from boiling the ribs in a lot of water (to cover).

                                    With the braise, the cooking liquid can be used to make the BBQ sauce, so no flavor is lost.

                                    I think the talk about loosing flavor to the cooking liquid exaggerates reality. To the extent that there is a flavor difference I think it because the dry roasting/smoking develops flavor, through reactions on the surface of the meat. I suspect that dry cooked meat weighs less than the wet cooked when done. It that is the case, then more juices have been 'squeezed out' during cooking. Some of those juices (and fat) have caramelized on the surface, but a lot have fallen to the drip pan under the grill. Does anyone actually make use of that? I known Mexican barbacoa, pit cooking, calls for collecting the juices in a bowl under meat, when are then served with it.

                                    By the way, if dry smoking preserves so much flavor, why all this use of dry rubs? Why do competition cooks inject apple juice into their meat?

                                    The OP is talking about preparing a large quantity of ribs, and apparently does not have an 18 ton armadillo shaped smoker. So the real issue is how to cook good tasting ribs, not how to make the perfect smoked ribs.

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      Parboiling is pre-cooking...If only for a few minutes it pre-cooks the outer surface.

                                      Never seen scum or bone dust on ribs...A quick rinse under the kitchen faucet would take care of that...better still a few splashes (quick bath) of white vinegar is even better.

                                      "I think the talk about loosing flavor to the cooking liquid exaggerates reality"
                                      How does one make meat broths/stocks? ~~ Ribs that have been par-boiled or whatever then placed on a BBQ pit have a flavor that I can spot in a heart beat!

                                      Any meat that is cooked has a portion of liquids "squeezed" out...Including those that are braised...Hot and fast (steaks) retain moisture....True BBQ cooked for long periods of time at low temperatures retains moisture as well....Obviously dry cooking methods using high heat for long periods of time will cause the most moisture lost.

                                      "By the way, if dry smoking preserves so much flavor, why all this use of dry rubs?"
                                      Why put salt and pepper on steak??? To make it taste good! The flavor of the meat itself is one thing...the flavor/taste of the seasonings is another..especially when those seasoning enhance/compliment the meat's natural flavor.

                                      Why do competition cooks inject apple juice into their meat?

                                      Never heard of any competition cooks, or competent back yard cooks injecting apple juice into ribs...Butts, Briskets, Chicken, Turkey, Ducks etc....yes. Why?? to introduce additional flavors deep into the meat..and to somewhat help reduce moisture loss.

                                      When and if the OP comes back and tells us what appliances she/he have at their disposal, hopefully we can offer some suggestions of how to cook ribs for 150 people that will taste good..with out having to parboil them....or whatever.

                                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                                        I love reading other's "opinion".

                                        1. re: CocoaNut

                                          Me too!!! In your "opinion" why is it important to "get heat into the bone"??
                                          What does that bring to the table/process?

                                          1. re: Uncle Bob

                                            >> What does that bring to the table/process?

                                            Well, ribs..... of course!

                                        2. re: Uncle Bob

                                          That quick boiling water bath is typical of Asian cooking (Korean, Japanese etc), particularly when the want a clear broth at the end. There have been threads about that. I wouldn't recommend it for ribs, especially if they've had a dry rub or marinade.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            Thanks Paul for reminding me there are other delicious ethnic recipes/methods/etc for cooking ribs/etc other than the Southern Pit BBQ methods...Sometimes one (me) can have a "one track' mind!


                                            Edit: And I do hope the OP will return to maybe fill in some blanks.. so that we can offer suggestions and ideas to maybe help!!

                                            1. re: Uncle Bob

                                              Uncle Bob and everyone,

                                              I can say that I've learned way more than I could imagine about the various cuts of meat that are called ribs. Good golly Miss Molly...

                                              Thank you to everyone. There's so much info here, I'll have to read the posts more than once.

                                              My husband will be a happy man. :-)

                                          2. re: Uncle Bob

                                            I need to get me a syringe.

                                            I worry about OP. 150 people, limited space and lots of flaming ribs? I wish I were invited. Prefireworks entertainment.

                                          3. re: paulj

                                            thank you paul!
                                            i am NOT looking for the perfect rib, clearly.
                                            i will be preparing about 160 lbs of pork spareribs. i have one commercial convection oven that fits 4 full sheet pans. i have two burners. i have a standard size grill to finish them on. maybe, i can fit two racks at a time? truthfully, i haven't seen it yet and probably won't see it until the morning of the fourth when i magically make food appear out of my closet sized kitchen. sometimes i wish i could crawl through the oven into narnia.
                                            uncle bob, i do not know if they are loin or shoulder.
                                            my boss wants me to bust em out dirty and cheap. i am resisting. i am looking for alternatives to his idea of boiling off and finishing on the grill, that's why i came here. i do not have much experience with ribs, that's why i'm asking you all.
                                            so far the best i've heard is the slow roast in foil with a dry rub. the brine also sounded interesting, i may do a few of each.
                                            and i will certainly be using the meat juice in the bbq sauce. even if boss man only wants me to add some chipotles and mango juice to some cattlemans. *sigh*
                                            i will make it at least a little classier than he would like.
                                            when i mentioned making my own sauce he told me to get over myself.
                                            this is what i'm contending with folks.
                                            thanks for all you help!!
                                            i'm in alaska. not even juneau, there's nowhere i can magically connjure up a giant smoker, even if i started looking now, 4 weeks out.

                                            1. re: orangefleabait

                                              The 1997 Joy of Cooking has a recipe for oven-roasted spare ribs. It starts with dry rub (sage, salt, pepper, thyme, but a paprika, chile, sugar one would work also). This is left on for 12 hrs. Then roast in oven (sheet pans should work), at 350, 45 min per side. It doesn't call for covering during roasting, but I've read that convection ovens tend to dry things, so a (partial) cover may be in order.

                                              By the way, I've seen (on tv) competition cooks wrapping the ribs in foil after smoking, and keeping them hot in a cooler. Think of it as an extended resting period.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                That actually sounds like a decent recipe, orangefleabait. But how you will wet or dry brine 160 lbs pf ribs may be tricky.

                                                I wouldn't bother flipping them over, either, bone side down would be fine. If you can fit pans that are a little deeper than a sheet pan, use those so you can put some liquid in the bottom. And I would def. cover with foil, spray with pam so the meat doesn't stick to it, and it'll maximize the steaming/slow roasting effect, so they don't dry out. 350 on a commercial convection may be a little high, that's probably the directions for a regular oven. But do use the convection, it'll be faster, just bump it down to 325 or even, 300, if you have a little more time.

                                                You can also use the convection once they are cooked & slathered on a broil mode, to mimic the grills, (I assume they are gas, not charcoal) and you won't really be compromising all that much on flavor. They will crisp up and caramelize in no time, if you run out of room on your grill.

                                                I think they will turn out fine. And you'll be a hero.

                                              2. re: orangefleabait

                                                I have two great, offbeat ideas. Ok, the first idea won't solve too many of your problems, in fact all it would do is create extra work, but it was fun to think about it.

                                                If you needed to get smoke on 160 pounds of pork ribs cheap and dirty without a smoker here's what would be fun to try. Get an old, stainless steel grocery cart, a full-size refrigerator box and a couple of hotplates. This is an Alton Brown direction I'm going here. Put the ribs in the cart, put the box on its side with one end opened, cut a couple of 'doors' for the hotplates on the bottom somewhere. Use aluminum pie pans with soaked wood chips on the hotplates inside the box under the ribs, close the end, add chips every hour and the ribs have smoke on them in a few hours. I know it's not as simple as that, but I had fun dreaming it up.

                                                The other idea might actually work to cook the ribs. There is a thread about cooking whole hogs. Here is the link: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/700586

                                                If you built an oven with 80 concrete blocks as described you could put all the ribs in the oven and smoke and cook them without any trouble at all. It sounds as if your boss wouldn't go for it, but if you had a place to build the thing, it's not too expensive and would be fun to cook whole hogs or pork shoulders. You don't even have to use good quality concrete blocks, seconds will do and they're cheaper yet.

                                                1. re: John E.

                                                  ohman, blew my mind.
                                                  i happen to have an inexhaustible supply of cheap concrete. i haven't looked at the plans yet, but i think this is the best idea yet. my boyfriend would be the one to build the onion (very capapble) is also the one that builds the float for the parads. last year alaska turned fifty and our barteneder dressed in drag like marilyn monroe and jumped out of a giant cake. i think he would be proud to make a cheapo oven for beer and kudos. really, i will be sure to get back to this thread. and probably post pictures.

                                          4. When I have done ribs without the benefit of smoking I season them, put sliced onions on and wrap the ribs in foil and put them in the oven at 325 - 350 for a couple of hours. I strain the juices into a bowl and chill for defatting. Chill the ribs to firm them up and the next day, grill them. I then add the meat juices to a bbq sauce and serve the sauce on the side.

                                            1. You say you're catering, so I'm going to assume that you're getting paid for it, and if I were the customer and my caterer (who was hired to provide barbecued ribs) served my guests and me ribs that had been parboiled, I would want my money back. I don't know what your space limitations are, but surely there's a parking lot where you could park a trailer mounted rig (rent one, if necessary) and do the ribs right. Or do them in advance, then reheat over hot, direct heat. Or just turn down the job.

                                              On the other hand, if the customer is ok with flavorless meat jello on a calcium stick, boil away.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                dude, i agree. it's not my idea, i'm just the grunt. read my note about the bbq sauce... seriously.

                                                1. re: orangefleabait

                                                  After reading your response to paulj (above), you have my sympathies. Given your constraints, ISTR that Sam Fujisaka (RIP) had a technique for making mass quantities of ribs, although he never claimed they were "barbecue". IIRC, he would take a BIG pot and put as many racks in as he could fit. He had a trick of rolling the racks around each other, and putting the whole mass into the pot *sideways* (that is, bones running vertically). He'd add a little bit of water, cover the pot, and steam the ribs until they were just about done. Then he'd slather on some sauce and throw them on the grill to cook the glaze. With this technique, Sam Fujisaka (RIP) said he could feed 150 or more, easily.

                                                  So...considering your limitations, I'd cook them using Sam's method, and use the ovens to hold the ribs AFTER they've come off the grill. You won't win any competitions this way, but it'll probably get the job done. Good luck!

                                                  1. re: ricepad

                                                    ah! another great idea!!

                                                    seriously! i can't believe the response i've gotten for this thread, i am so stoked about all the replies!!

                                              2. I bake w/ a dry rub w/ no added liquid and then use BBQ sauce when we put them on the grill. They can be baked the day before. They come out really good and flavorful w/o dryness.

                                                I have par-boiled in the past but they're not as flavorful. They also tend to fall apart easier than if I bake them.

                                                1. I have read several posts where people say they have parboiled ribs and it works, but they are just not as flavorful. Can anyone tell me why one would boil ribs in a vat of water? I just don't understand, since steaming them in the oven in their own juices accomplishes the same thing with minimal effort and mjuch less loss of flavor.

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    My comment is strictly from a non U S (western) centric viewpoint -
                                                    Many places outside the US either do not have ovens, or ovens are very new to the culture.

                                                    Par boiling (NOT BOILING) is a very short immersion in boiling liquid. There is very little flavor loss as the par boil does not last long enough to render much out of the meat.

                                                    It does CHANGE the flavor because the surface of the meat does partially cook, and so does not lend itself to the full flavored (smoke, dry rub, etc) US style of low and slow.

                                                    In various NON US (western) cuisines this is actually preferred, as the partially cooked surface lends itself more to sauces, marinades, dips, etc - all styles which are more common in different ethnic cooking styles.

                                                    1. re: hannaone

                                                      Ok, even if you don't have an oven, at least steam the meat, don't immerse it in water.

                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                        I do a lot of Korean cooking -
                                                        I think I will keep it Korean style as I do enjoy it.

                                                        1. re: hannaone

                                                          Is it normal to boil pork ribs in Korean cooking? I'm not trying to be smart here, I just don't understand why it would be done that way since it leaches flavor out of the meat and really isn't a necessary way to cook them.

                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                            Most pork ribs in Korea are served in soups or braises, occasionally grilled.
                                                            No matter which way they are cooked, the traditional method of preparation is to rinse, soak, rinse, par boil, and rinse again. This has been done for centuries, possibly as a way to clean meats that have been purchased from open air markets.

                                                            For Grilled pork ribs, the PAR-boiled meat is often marinated for a time prior to grilling.

                                                            Note that a par-boil is not the same as a boil. You lose as much or more flavor on a grill through lost drippings.

                                                            There is a version that is actually boiled a bit longer than a par boil, then the liquid is reduced and seasoned and used as a "BBQ" sauce.

                                                            1. re: hannaone

                                                              I know what 'par' boiling is and it is still immersing the ribs in boiling water. I don't see the need for it. I'm not Korean. You do not lose flavor on the grill like you do soaking meat in plain water. I guess you'll have to agree to disagree.

                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                Don't get me wrong, I love US BBQ. When eating American style that's what I want.
                                                                When eating Korean style, I want Korean.
                                                                Two different animals and both are good.

                                                  2. My sister always par boils ribs in a mix of beer & spices--some recipe from Jimmy Schmidt at the Rattlesnake Club. I still think low & slow in the oven gives the most tender. The beer does add a nice flavor though.