Breaking The Rules When It Comes to Ribs

For YEARS, many (myself included) have preached that boiling ribs was an abomination to the pork gods.

Even so far as a FEW days ago, I wrote an article on "The Biggest Mistake People Make With Ribs". However, I recently read ANOTHER article on boiling ribs, from the God Father of BBQ, Mr. Steven Raichlen.

In this article, Raichlen describes a moment in 2008 when he was eating a roadside restaurant in Bali. It was there that he ate boiled ribs, and decided that there CAN be an exception to every rule (based on his experience)!

So, it got me wondering...

Can You Break The Rules When It Comes to Barbecue?

My first thought immediately jumped to the KCBS. Those judges (speaking from personal experience) like their ribs with some chew to them- NOT fall off the bone. Also, in my humble opinion, fall off the bone ribs are overcooked. However, I think that when it comes to ribs (OR barbecue in general) everyone is their OWN expert! 

I have had boiled ribs before. They were boiled to tender, sauced and then grilled. They were addictive. 

The tenderness, the flavor of being cooked and sauced over a grill. The only part it didn't have was the smoky flavor I am used to when it comes to ribs. I have to say, I am still conflicted about this. As a barbecue purist, I would say that boiling ribs is WRONG. As someone who ALSO likes to share different techniques and flavors with the world, I think that these have a stand as well. 

To Boil or Not To Boil, That Is The Question!

The Shakespearean dilemma will still be fought out in the annals of barbecue history. Now, I may never be entered into the BBQ Hall of Fame (but one can dream) but I do believe that, if done right, boiled ribs have their place in barbecue lore. 

I know this may seem as a straight contradiction to my previous article, and you may be right. But, as we travel together to become grillionaires I want you to always experience and try something new when it comes to barbecue. The old ways are great, but there is always something different on the horizon. 

With great barbecue, comes great responsibility with flavor and technique! I am going to do a video on this and test it out. A Barbecue Battle if you will! Here is the recipe (from Raichlen) that made me change my tone:

 Grilled Baby Backs 


  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices, and fl attened with the side of a cleaver
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened with the side of a cleaver
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and fl attened with the side of a cleaver


1: Several hours, or even a day ahead, remove the papery membrane from the back of each rack of ribs. Then, place the ribs in a large pot with cold water to cover by 4 inches. Bring the ribs to a boil over medium heat, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.

2: Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass to the pot with the ribs. Let the ribs return to a gentle simmer and cook them until the meat is very tender and has shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about 1/4 inch, about 1 hour. Transfer the ribs to a platter and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate them until you are ready to grill. For even moister ribs, let the ribs and cooking liquid cool to room temperature separately, then put the ribs back in the cooking liquid and refrigerate them together. The ribs can be boiled up to 24 hours ahead of time.

3: When you are ready to grill, drain the ribs if necessary, discarding the cooking liquid or setting it aside for another use in a soup or stew. Grill the ribs, bone side down, using the direct method until they are sizzling hot and darkly browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Baste the ribs generously and repeatedly with the sweet soy glaze, serving any extra glaze on the side as a sauce.


I will be doing a Barbecue Battle: Boiled vs. Smoked. But in the mean time, make sure you eat well, do well, and serve good food! 

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