Monday, January 30, 2012

Boil-n-Bake Baby Back Ribs – Crime Against Nature, Or Just Guilty of Being Delicious?

Here’s what I know: I took some baby back ribs, simmered them for an hour in a flavorful liquid, glazed them in sauce, roasted them in the oven for about half an hour, and they looked and tasted really good. I also know these boil-n-bake baby back ribs would be great at any party, preferably a Super Bowl party (during which the Giants win the game).

Here’s what I don’t know: Why so many people will lose their minds over the fact that I boiled these ribs. They’ll say it’s a crime against nature, and that these are just not the same as baby backs slowly roasted over smoky coals for hours and hours. Well, duh.

These aren’t meant to replace, or even compete with, a traditionally barbecued version. This is simply a fast and tasty alternative method for having a nice stack of ribs appear on your snack table. Seriously, what’s the problem?

This is one of those recipes where I don’t want or expect you to use the same stuff I did. This is more about the quick and dirty method than any specific ingredients. I would make sure the simmering liquid is very well salted, and have a decent amount of acid and spice, but other than that, anything goes.

As far as the glaze, I just threw a bunch of stuff in a mixing bowl, in a sort of stream of saucy consciousness, but very much enjoyed the results. Chinese 5-spice is wonderful with pork, and created a beautifully aromatic base for the sweet, sour, and spicy sauce.

By the way, if it looks like I was a little short on sauce, I was, but made a little more while they were roasting, and it was fine. The amounts below will give you plenty for a rack of baby back ribs. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
1 slab baby back ribs
2 1/2 quarts cold water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
6 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tbsp kosher salt (less if using fine salt)
1 tbsp Chinese 5-spice
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 bay leaves

For the glaze:
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp ketchup
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp sambal chili paste, or to taste
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice

52 comments:

Jonathan said...

what did you do with the simmering liquid after the ribs?

Anonymous said...

Thumbs Up.

Me.Eat.Food said...

Growing up we used to boil them before throwing them on the grill. It works! And they're moist and tender as one might expect.

Asian Malaysian said...

Youre right about the five spice. Ginger juice would help in the marinade and galze too.

Asian Malaysian said...

Btw, I wonder if how this would work if you skipped the water and used a microwave or slow cooker.Maybe people may moan less about losing meaty flavour in the "brine" if theres less liquid to lose it in.

Phife Dog said...

digable planets, dr dre, snoop dogg, ... and now cypress hill. Your posts have been scattered with rap references over the years. I know have the certainty you're hip hop head. Keep it real !

Anonymous said...

Crime!

Mary F said...

Chef John. I'm losing my mind over the fact that you boiled these ribs. It’s a crime against nature, and they are just not the same as baby backs slowly roasted over smoky coals for hours and hours.

Chrissy said...

I do something similar to what Asian Malaysian said. The day of the party I slow cook the ribs with just enough water or broth (if I have some) and leave the house. I get home make up the sauce combine, bake and they turn out fantastic. I'll try your method when I'm in a hurry next time.. thanks!: )

Me.Eat.Food said...

Asian Malaysian-

A slow cooker works great for ribs - it's my new favorite way to cook them. Very easy and very tender! I like to brown the whole rack on the grill or under the broiler for 5 minutes per side, then slice the ribs into pairs, throw them in the slow cooker, throw a sliced onion in, and squirt some BBQ sauce over it all. A few hours later you'll have the most tender, delicious ribs you've ever had.

Chris K. said...

It's like those inane "authenticity" arguments that pop up around here from time to time. Who cares if a technique isn't the accepted way to prepare a product, if the result is delicious food?

Tradition is often important to understand but it's not sacrosanct. That's why the French aren't the center of the culinary universe anymore.

I like the fact this is a simple, straightforward, versatile technique for preparing ribs. Never mind the haters, Chef!

Christie Farrar said...

I've even boiled them in BBQ sauce and then baked them (with the same sauce) and they turn out VERY awesome.

philogaia said...

I don't think I need to be convinced by doing it myself. I would suspect these ribs would have more flavor in the meat coming from the flavors in the cooking liquid. But I rather like Asian Malaysian's idea about a braise in the crock pot and then finish in the oven.

I tend to not do baby backs because they get too dry on me. This might fix that problem. I'm not a Super Bowl person (sorry chef) but I'm pretty sure I can come up with a gathering soon to try this for.

Anonymous said...

It's not tradition... it's science. Ribs that are slowly cooked over coals are just better. Now, is that the only way? Of course not. However, par boiling? I haven't felt like this since I saw your gumbo's light roux...

Have you tried braising them in a tinfoil packet with beer? As far as a simple indoor method, that gets it done for me. Two things the braise method has over this. 1, dry rub. 2 you have a dripping to make BBQ sauce. While finishing them off on a grill is best, you can use the broiler too. A good home made dry rub is a great way to forget that you don't have 6 hours and a smoker...

-Pyrofish

Anonymous said...

I used to do ribs via the boiling method until my mom showed me the bake in the oven on 250 for 2 hours way which you also have on your site.

The boiling does make for a tougher meat..definately not tender/fall off the bones. Spare ribs are almost impossible to eat this way too. I have done all sorts of ribs via the boiling method and since I found out about the slow cook in the oven way...I will not do the boil method anymore.

But, your brine sounds like it would be great to boil chicken in!

Lisa in Atlanta

bbq snob said...

Chef, didn't you graduate from Kingsford U or something?

WWCLD?

(What would Chris Lilly do?)

Chef John said...

Hey snob, are you not clear on the part where these are not supposed to compete with bbq ribs? I love smoked pulled pork, but sometimes I just simmer the shoulder and make pork stew. Is that bad too?

Points2Ponder said...

Thanx! for yet another fine recipe Chef John.
You are the very best food blogger on the internet hands down....SG.

1Bigg_ER said...

Chef John, would 3 racks still simmer an hour or add more time?

Chef John said...

same time

Rob said...

Oh man, I just so happen to have a big juicy rack of ribs thats in need of some cooking. Theres a 99.298% chance that this recipe is happening.

Cheers

Steven K. said...

Hey Chef John,

I think making these ribs with Asian spices should save you from any criticism when compared to traditional slow smoked Amercian-style BBQ'ed ribs. In fact, I added several drops of red food coloring to my glaze in an attempt to make my ribs look like the BBQ'ed ribs you get on a traditional Pu-Pu platter appetizer plate. They still didn't have that unnatural red that you usually see in Asian restaurants. Any suggestions?

Chef John said...

First of all, why? They just use a lot more red coloring.

Steven K. said...

That's a good question. I guess since these tasted like Asian ribs from a restaurant appetizer, I wanted them to look like it too. I think even if I added the whole container of red food coloring these ribs still wouldn't have looked like the bright red food you get in Asian restaurants.

Honestly, have you ever seen meat served anywhere outside of an Asian restaurant that has the same bright red color of chinese BBQ pork, either pork loin or ribs? I'm just curious how they get it to look like that.

Anonymous said...

To add more flavor I'd replace the water with Apple Cider for the boil. As it reduces add water. Can't go wrong with Pork and Apple.

raquel@eRecipe.com said...

I read this post from beg. to end and watch your video 2x coz I do love it and enjoy your voice over too. As you said I really enjoy =)

Dyre said...

Can you do anything with the "brine" or is it just way too salty?

Also, I don't understand peoples' comments about boiling making the meat tough. I have never boiled pork, but every other meat I've boiled ends up crazy tender (downside being loss of meat flavour). I probably won't try this for baby-back ribs, but maybe short ribs. I'll probably add some pork stock to the simmering liquid, though.

Laura said...

I made these last night for dinner, with homemade baked beans and sweet potato oven-baked fries, and they were lip-smacking good. The house smelled great when the hubby walked in the door, too. The sauce - oh, my, the sauce - is heavenly. I doubled it because I used a rack or pork spareribs, not baby backs, which were huge (about 4.5 lbs.), and a double batch of sauce was just right. I baked the spareribs for the same amount of time, and they were falling off the bone - tender, juicy, flavorful and sticky. Perfect. Thanks again, Chef, for another great recipe.

Peg said...

Hi Chef John...it's me again, reporting yet another WINNER! I have to say I wasn't sure about this one, mostly because of the 5 spice (it smells like a bad experience I had in Singapore), not the boiling. I ALMOST chickened out on the glaze, but I'm so glad I didn't! They were really tender and had great flavor and while they didn't fall off the bone, but the pile of bones on my
plate are shamelessly clean. Thanks again!

Pon Pon said...

I'm going to do it tomorrow :"(
but are there any problems if I don't use wasabi and less red chili flakes?

Anonymous said...

I made these today, just exactly like you said, and they were delicious. Thanks so much. Sandy H.

KPeff said...

Awesome recipe. The five-spice in the braise is killer. I glazed the ribs with a honey-habanero BBQ sauce someone gave me for Christmas, and it was fantastic.

mye said...

I did this today and my family loved it! Would it be ok with you if I post it in my blog with of course a link to this recipe :)

Chef John said...

Sure!

Anonymous said...

My Mother has been boiling ribs since I remember @ least 30 years - one of the best rib recipes I've eaten - she used "Thai Sweet chili sauce" in the boiling water and BBQ sauce to baste in the oven.

Anonymous said...

Would this work as a 'boil, then finish on grill' instead of the oven? I'm thinking that somebody camping might have a stove and grill but no oven.

Anyway, sounds delicious and I will try these.

Chef John said...

Yes! Finish on grill!

Nina en la Cocina said...

Chef John! You are awesome!
The simmering liquid after taking the ribs out was almost soup-worthy. I felt awful dumping it out in the trash. I am making these again soon...to dump or not to dump, that is the question.

Chef John said...

Sure, you could use for a bean soup or something like that. :)

BeginnerMom said...

Hi Chef John. Thank you for this great recipe! I have never cooked back ribs before or even bothered to think about handling them before I saw your video. You arste so funny btw. My husband says it is "top notch" and it peels right off the bone. It is so tender and I like the sweet and spicy yet complex flavor. And low fat!!, thanks to boiling process! If it wasn't this easy or needed hours and hours of cooking, I would've never tried this. Not in a million years! So cheers to you. Bless you. More food wishes!

Chef John said...

Thank you!

Chef John said...

Thank you!

wjc146 said...

Can you boil the ribs the night before? I want to make a large batch for a baby shower but don't want to be rushed in the morning.

p.s. I love your site.

wjc146 said...

Can I boil the ribs the night before? I want to make a large batch for a baby shower but don't want to be boiling ribs all morning.

Thanks!

p.s. love your site

Chef John said...

Yes!

Chang Kyoung Ha said...

Well when we cook the rib in Korea we boil them to make it extra tender (it's more like simmering in pressure cooker) and get rid of excess fats.

Good to see that you actually appreciate this trick.

Silky Tp said...

When you made your chicken soup, you boiled the meat to extract the flavor of the meat into the liquid right? Does pork have some special property that prevents it from doing the same? You lose flavor by boiling. As you said in your video, you're making a sort of brine. So you're changing the flavor of the pork. I say, enhance the pork flavor, don't change it or cover it up.

The purpose of grilling the ribs slowly, is to evaporate water, add smoke flavor, break down connective tissues, and concentrate the flavors. Oh, your ribs are good, I'm sure, simple pork chops are good - putting ketchup on pork is good, although I'd never do that. But I can't imagine your method could compare to the exceptional flavor of grilled ribs.

My ribs take 1 hour - coals on one side of the grill, ribs on the other, lid closed, vents open. So it's actually quicker than your version. Turn every 15 minutes - excellent "tug off the bone" ribs. You don't need heavy sauce if you make delicious smokey ribs. I put a spice rub on my ribs and let that set for a couple hours before grilling, that's it. But if you like your glaze, make some and put it on each side of the grilled ribs for the last bit of cooking.

Your mileage may vary, but give that a try.

Kevin Nishida said...

I just made these tonight again and they were extremely delicious! All my friends and family agreed as well. Used spare ribs because I'm cheap :)

Silky, as I do the math, you let your rub sit for 2 hours, then grill for 1 for a total of 3 hours. CJ's recipe is 1.5 hours + the prep time, so let's say 2, which in fact still makes his a quicker, shortcut method for delicious ribs.

I think we should all just calm down. They're just pork ribs. It's not like we're boiling NY steaks or sashimi grade ahi.

Silky Tp said...

Kevin, no one is excited here, I'm just sharing a thought. I think though, that your math is a little off. I do put a rub on and let it marinate in the fridge, but cooking time is a total of 1 (one) hour. (shrug).

For those that like Chef John's idea, right on. He has provided me excellent tips and recipes so I'm not knocking it - I was just pointing out a little food chemistry as it relates to the bbq.

By the way, saying "they're just pork ribs" to a guy from Chicago is like saying "It's just steak" (smile).

As Chef John always says... your the boss of your sauce.

Afro Amber said...

I love this recipe, and wanted to share some modifications. I have some people who don't like spicy, so I omitted the kosher salt and Chinese 5-spice from the first part. I replaced it with 1 TBSP of Creole seasoning, and 1 TBSP of Old Bay.

For the glaze, lacking honey one day I subbed pure maple syrup, and it was great. Again for the spicy reasons, I left out the sambal chili paste and Chinese 5-spice, and subbed with 1-2 TBSP Old Bay. If you have someone who really can't handle spicy, leave it at 1 TBSP, you'll still get a nice flavor. I like A LOT of glaze, so with the exception of the Old Bay, I put 1/4 cup of everything in.

The extra glaze works well if you want ribs, but are short on the time. Still score and separate the ribs, then put them in your slow cooker/crock pot. Pour the mixed glaze over ribs, making sure they all get a coat. Cover, set to low, and check back in about 6-8 hours. I'm not sure how long they actually take to cook, I just check when I think they're done. Periodically I shift them around to make sure they stay ell coated. You won't get the nice caramelization you get from baking them, but they will be fall off the bone tender.

Tassilo von Parseval said...

As for the brine, as some have noticed, you can't actually toss this out. I've tasted a spoon and immediately concluded that this may well be the best meat stock I've ever had. I guess ribs are just perfect containing both bones and meat.

It has a little too much heat to be of general purpose but I am quite sure it will make a brilliant base for a spicy noodle soup.

So I've transferred it to a sauce pan and will reserve it for later this week.

Unknown said...

Hi Chef John. Thanks very much for this wonderful recipe. I've made it several times and it always comes out great. I'm curious as to whether or not this recipe would work equally well with St. Louis-style spareribs rather than baby back ribs. If so, would the cooking time(s)- or any other aspects of the recipe - change in any way? Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond.