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I was thinking about doing it as a time saving device - any recommendations?

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How are you grilling them? High heat? Low and Slow? How long does it take to cook them on the grill? – yossarian Aug 10 '10 at 13:16
For grilling usually I like to take a few hours: 2-3 – AttilaNYC Aug 10 '10 at 16:38

I can kind of go either way on this. I like to cook my ribs low and slow with smoke, which takes a couple of hours. However, I'm not sure that par-boiling will really improve this cooking time. So I'd say no for low and slow technique.

My mother boils her ribs first and then grills them. In this case, they cook in the liquid and really just finish on the grill. She puts the ribs in a shallow pan, puts some liquid in, covers in foil, and throws them in the oven. I think she does about two hours in the oven (a quick google suggests about 275). Then it only takes 15 mins or so to finish on the grill. This makes tending quite a lot easier. You can boil them ahead of time and hold in the refrigerator. It also allows you to introduce some more interesting liquids for the boiling (beer, Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper).

Par-boiling for 10-15 minutes and then grilling will help reduce some of the fat in the ribs. It will also help make them "fall of the bone" if you're grilling at higher heats. However, I don't think that 10 minutes is going to substantially affect your cooking time. I could be wrong though, as this method falls dead in between the two methods I'm familiar with.

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Love the "interesting liquids" idea. Always fun to experiment in the kitchen. – stephennmcdonald Aug 10 '10 at 14:50

It probably will save some time, but I tend to think that boiling meat makes for a rather bland, ropey final product (collagen dissolves from the meat, leaving it stingy rather than juicy).

I would suggest just baking them beforehand. You can bake them (low heat, wrapped in foil) days before you intend to serve them and keep them in the refrigerator. Finish as normal (either on a grill or under high heat in the oven).

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This is what my dad does, he bakes them low and slow, then finishes them on the grill. I've never had ribs that compared to his when he uses this method. – stephennmcdonald Aug 10 '10 at 14:38

Our family recipe calls for the ribs to be boiled for an hour before being broiled. The ribs are boiled with a few onions, salt and pepper, and then a sauce is applied for broiling. This does significantly cut down on cook time, and also doesn't require the oven to be on as long and results in tender meat.

That being said, Slow cooking ribs does result in tastier ribs. The boil and broil method is best used in colder weather and don't want to cook low for the required number of hours.

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When you boil ribs, the terrorists win.

The whole point of the slow cooking process is to break down the collagen in the connective tissue into gelatin which creates that unctuous mouthfeel that great bbq is known for. By boiling it, you're causing the proteins in the collagen to seize and toughen. The meat may be more tender but that's not what you're ultimately after in great bbq ribs.

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"Seize and toughen"? Nonsense. Boiling also breaks down the collagen and gives the unctuous feel, and I don't see why it would toughen the protein more than e.g. baking, which will almost certainly be at a higher temperature than boiling water even if you "slow cook". Adam Shiemke's argument about the collagen dissolving out might possibly be correct, on the other hand, though personally I've not noticed this problem. – PaulS Aug 12 '10 at 21:10

My mom taught me to parboil with plenty of seasonings in the water as well as some vinegar onions, peppers and garlic. Then we would put them under the broiler and smother them in sauce. I guess since that's what I grew up with I never really liked "real" bbq. At least when it comes to ribs that is. I'm hosting a cookout for Father's day in the park this weekend. I may just do the same and save myself some time.

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Can you explain why you parboil them? The question was about whether or not it's a good idea - have you tried both ways, to see if it's actually helping you or not? – Jefromi Jun 11 '13 at 23:24

I believe a short, hot, dip. Will heat up any bone in the meat enough to contribute more flavor. But always let your ribs rest...par boiling, when done right, can be a time saver, but you must compensate with deep flavor.

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I par boil, cause it is easy and the wife LOVES it! However, there is no doubt that smoking produces the most tasty ribs....

Smoking requires a bit of equipment and a lot of time...wish I had both..

my 0.02

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Boiling any meat, period, before grilling results in lower flavor quality. Who cares if it's fall off the bone if it taste like cardboard? When you boil all the flavor is cooked off into the water. You could make some tasty rib soup afterwords but anything other than that is going to be low quality bbq. Do the right thing, low and slow, and you can have tasty fall off the bone ribs. Never ever boil any meat under any cercumstances unless you are making soup, stew, chilli, or some other varient. Unless of course you like sub par bbq.

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If you like bland and stringy fast, parboil them. If you like flavorful,tender, melt in your mouth ribs, never parboil the ribs.

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