Tips for Preparing Pork Ribs (Thawing, Marinating, Parboil)
I don’t know about you, but most of the time I get pork ribs on sale and throw them immediately into the freezer, so I have some when the time comes that I want to cook them.
My preferred way is smoking them, but you can also braise, bake or grill them.
However, the biggest problem I face when making ribs is time. I never remember to get the ribs out of the freezer in time, then I am in a time crunch to get them thawed in time to smoke.
The 4 Most Common Types of Pork Ribs
There are several different types of pork ribs that are commonly used in cooking, and they can vary in size, shape, and flavor. Some common types of pork ribs include:
Baby Back Ribs: These are small, curved ribs that come from the pig’s upper back. They are leaner and more tender than other types of ribs and are often used in barbecue dishes.
Spare Ribs: These are larger, flatter ribs that come from the pig’s belly and breastbone. They have more fat and connective tissue than baby back ribs, which gives them a rich, flavorful taste. They are often used in slow-cooking methods such as smoking or grilling.
St. Louis Ribs: These are a type of spare rib that has been trimmed to a rectangular shape. They have a flatter, meatier appearance than other types of ribs and are often used in barbecue dishes.
Country-style Ribs: These are not technically ribs at all, but rather a cut of pork from the shoulder blade area. They are often sold as ribs and are meatier and less curved than baby back or spare ribs. They are often braised or grilled and can be used as an alternative to beef ribs.
Overall, the best type of pork ribs to use will depend on your personal preference and the recipe you are using. Each type of pork rib has its own unique flavor and texture, and you may need to experiment with different types to find the one that you like best.
3 Main Ways to Thaw Pork Ribs
The length of time it takes to thaw out pork ribs will depend on the type, size, and thickness of the ribs, as well as the method you use to thaw them. Here are some general guidelines for thawing pork ribs:
Refrigeration: This is the safest and most recommended method for thawing pork ribs. Place the frozen ribs in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours, until they are fully thawed. This method will take longer, but it helps to prevent the ribs from becoming overcooked or rubbery during the thawing process.
Cold water: If you need to thaw the pork ribs more quickly, you can place them in a sealable plastic bag and submerge them in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the ribs are fully thawed. This method will typically take 1-2 hours, depending on the size and thickness of the ribs.
Microwave: You can also thaw pork ribs in the microwave, but this method can be risky as it can cause the ribs to become overcooked and rubbery. If you do choose to use the microwave, be sure to thaw it on low power and check on it often. Once the ribs begin to become bendable, it would be best to change over to the “cold water” method of above to take it the rest of the way.
Overall, it is best to allow plenty of time for thawing pork ribs, particularly if you are using the refrigeration method. This will help to ensure that the ribs are fully thawed and ready to be cooked without becoming overcooked or losing quality.
How Long Should You Marinate Ribs Before Smoking?
Marinating pork ribs before smoking can help to add flavor and moisture to the meat and improve the overall quality of the dish.
However, before marinating the ribs, remove any excess fat or membrane (aka the silver skin) from the back of the ribs, as this can interfere with the absorption of the marinade. You can cut the ribs into individual portions if desired.
My preferred method is dry brining. Dry brining pork ribs involves coating the ribs with a mixture of salt and other seasonings and allowing them to sit for a period of time before cooking. This process helps to season the ribs and improve their texture by drawing moisture to the surface of the meat.
I usually dry brine or marinate my pork ribs overnight.
Should You Parboil Pork Ribs?
Traditionalists will scoff at this idea. They (rightfully so) think that the ribs should be BBQ’d completely, without the help of a parboil.
Parboiling pork ribs before smoking is a method that can be used to greatly reduce the cooking time and improve the moisture of the ribs. Parboiling involves partially cooking the ribs in boiling water before finishing them off on the grill or smoker.
To parboil pork ribs before smoking, you can follow these steps:
- Prepare the ribs: Remove any excess fat or membrane from the back of the ribs, and cut them into individual portions if desired.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil: Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil over high heat.
- Parboil the ribs: Once the water is boiling, add the ribs to the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the ribs for about 20-30 minutes, or until they are partially cooked and the meat is tender.
- Remove the ribs from the pot: Use tongs or a slotted spoon to carefully remove the ribs from the pot and transfer them to a plate.
- Pat the ribs dry: Pat the ribs dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
- Season the ribs: Sprinkle the ribs with your desired seasoning rub or marinade.
- Smoke the ribs: Place the ribs on the smoker and smoke them according to your desired cooking time and temperature.
Overall, parboiling pork ribs before smoking can be a helpful technique for reducing the cooking time and improving the texture of the ribs. However, it is important to be careful when handling the hot water and ribs to avoid burns or accidents.