Months ago, I posted an experiment whereby I poached ribs in a Chinese Master Stock before cooking them further. Here, I am going to be doing something somewhat similar except that I will be using my Firepot Stock, which is now, as of the date of this experiment, about a month and a half old.
Simply tossing a large slab of ribs onto a very hot barbecue will often result in meat that is dry and overcooked, especially on the outside, and so more complex methods are often employed in which the racks are slowly cooked by indirect heat on a cooler part of the grill before being quickly finished over higher heat. Here, I am going to poach the ribs in my stock first as I hope this this gentle precooking will achieve a nice moist flesh while infusing them with additional flavor before the second cooking…
These are the ribs I selected. Our market actually had some very nice baby-back ribs but those are much thinner and already much more tender, so this technique I am using might not be necessary for those kind.
My stock has not been used for actual cooking for some weeks but it has been brought to the boil several times and, occasionally, meat and vegetable trimmings have been simmered in it to add flavor. The liquid level has diminished so, here, I have added about a quart of water along with some white wine. Before poaching the ribs, I also simmered the stock with dried mushrooms, a carrot, some onion and garlic cloves for further enrichment. After an hour or so, I brought the stock to a boil, added the ribs, let the liquid come to a boil again and then removed the pot from the burner, keeping it covered.
The ribs were allowed to poach in the residual heat of the stock and the pot took about two hours to fully cool. Here, you can see the ribs after being removed from the liquid.
I first thought of doing the ribs with a Teriyaki type glaze but then decided upon a more conventional Barbecue sauce instead. Rather than buy one of the many commercial ones, I mixed together some Ketchup and HP sauce along with minced garlic, lemon juice, and, since I did not plan to use woodchips for the grilling, just a little splash of liquid smoke.
Hardcore barbecue cooks almost come to blows about whether you should marinate, and grill ribs with sauce already slathered on, or else grill slowly and then just mop with sauce at the last minute. I am going to fall somewhere in the middle as my ribs are mostly cooked from the poaching. I will, however, be brushing them with my sauce before they hit the barbecue.
This was actually the first use of my barbecue this year but, given my post schedule, outdoor cooking season will quite likely have ended here in Iqaluit by the time you read this. Since I only acquired this barbecue late last summer and thus only used it a few times, I am still not very familiar with its idiosyncrasies yet. Still, things came together pretty nicely for this experiment.
Here you can see the racks about 5 or 10 minutes into the cooking time. All in all, they took about 30 minutes to finish, mostly with the grill top down, and I turned and basted them with sauce several times, reducing heat towards the end.
I am very sorry, but I forgot to take a picture of the serving plates I made up. I cut the racks into individual ribs and then served them with some nice coleslaw on the side.
I think, if you look at the first picture, that you can see that the ribs were nicely moist in the middle with a nice grill crust on the exterior. My wife, I am sure, will happily attest that that they were really juicily tender and very flavorful.
In the final analysis, I cannot say that these ribs were absolutely better cooked this way than other methods, but I do, however, think that they were every bit as good. The real benefit of the pre-poaching is that it does make the final grilling a lot quicker and easier and would, I believe, be the perfect method when cooking large amounts for a crowd. All in all, I pronounce this experiment a success…