Last night you had a wonderful meal of smoked ribs (or a smoked pork butt), but you cooked too much and have put the leftovers in the fridge. You want to have them for dinner tonight, but how do you cook them so that they taste as moist and tender as they were the first time around? In this article, we will tell you what you can do so that you have a tasty meal for two days in a row (pork ribs in particular).
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Storing your ribs for a second day’s cooking is just as important as reheating them. After all, you don’t want to get food poisoning. You need to get your cooked meat in the fridge as soon as possible, certainly not later than 2 hours after you have cooked them, otherwise bacteria will start to form. If it’s really hot weather outside, it would be better to put the ribs in the fridge just an hour after they have been cooked. It also helps to stop the meat from drying out. Your fridge needs to be at a maximum temperature of 40F. It is a good idea to cut your ribs into smaller pieces as then they will cool down more quickly. Refrigerated ribs will last for 3 – 4 days in the fridge. Any longer and they could become contaminated and they will also start to lose their taste. You can tell if your meat has gone off as it will have a sour smell.
An alternative is to freeze your ribs for use at a later date. They will last for 3 – 4 months before they start to lose their taste. It is best to refrigerate them first so that they freeze quicker. If you have any left-over sauce, you can freeze that as well.
The next question you may have is what to store your ribs in. In the fridge, you can put them in plastic containers, in a zipper-style plastic bag, or you could simply wrap them in cling film and put aluminum foil over it. To add extra moisture and flavor put in the original drippings or some barbecue sauce. If you are freezing your ribs, it is best to vacuum pack them.
How to Reheat Ribs in the Oven
If you are planning to reheat last nights’ ribs, the oven is the best bet. You’ll get the best results and will have tender and juicy meat. You can also make use of the broiler to give your meat a caramelized flavor. However, you do have to follow instructions carefully so as not to get dried out meat.
The first thing you have to do is take your ribs out of the fridge and let them come up to room temperature. This is important as otherwise your ribs may be cooked too much on the outside and not enough on the inside. This can take up to 20 minutes. Once you have taken the ribs out of the fridge, preheat the oven to 250F. While the oven is heating up, you can put barbecue sauce on your ribs. It is better to choose a sauce that doesn’t have too much sugar in it as sauces with a lot of sugar can burn.
The next step is to cover the ribs in 2 layers of foil. This ensures that none of the juices escape. The foil does lessen the effect of sugar in the barbecue sauces and you can get a nice caramelized flavor.
Put the ribs in a baking pan and cook for 30 minutes if you are cooking pork spare ribs or St Louis cut ribs. 5 minutes before they have finished cooking, turn on your broiler which will give an extra caramelized flavor.
If you are cooking pork baby back ribs, you will need to preheat the oven to 225F, add the barbecue sauce, cover in foil, and heat up for three-quarters of an hour. You can also add drippings from the original cookout, apple juice, or apple cider vinegar. An apple flavor is a perfect accompaniment to pork.
There is an alternative way to cook baby back ribs and that is to broil them. You will still get tender and caramelized meat. The first thing to do is preheat the oven to 250F. Put the ribs in a pan bone side up and turn on the boiler. You can first put some barbecue sauce on the ribs. Cook for 3 minutes or until the sauce starts to bubble up. Turn over the ribs and cook for another 3 minutes. Take the ribs out of the oven and rest them for 4 minutes, covered in foil.
If you want to reheat beef short ribs in the oven, take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before reheating. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 250F – 300F. Put the beef ribs in some foil and add moisture. Beef broth, beer, or cola works well. Put them in the oven and cook for around 30 minutes.
How to Reheat Ribs on the Grill
You can also reheat your ribs on your grill, but you will have to keep an eye on them as the heat is more temperamental especially if you have a charcoal or wood pellet grill. However, it is a large area so you will be able to cook a lot of ribs. In addition, it only takes 8 – 10 minutes to reheat your ribs which is quicker than in the oven.
The first step is to preheat your grill to high. Take the ribs out of the fridge and bring them up to room temperature. Put the barbecue sauce on the ribs and wrap them in 2 layers of foil. Lower the heat to medium and then put the ribs on the grill. Turn them over about halfway through cooking. As with all reheating, check that the internal temperature of the meat is at least 145F.
How to Reheat Ribs in the Microwave
At a pinch, you can reheat ribs in a microwave, but it can dry them out even if you put on a lot of barbecue sauce, so they might not be as good as if you reheated them in the oven or on the grill.
You will need a microwave-safe dish into which you put the ribs. Spread barbecue sauce evenly over them. Put them into the microwave and heat on medium for 3 – 5 minutes. Check that the temperature of the ribs has reached 145F. If not, heat for another 3 minutes.
How to Reheat Ribs in a Toaster Oven
A toaster oven may be a strange appliance to use to reheat your ribs, but it is just a miniature oven. However, it does the job quicker and uses less electricity. You will need to preheat the oven to 250F. Put barbecue sauce on the ribs and cover with foil. The cooking time is around 15 minutes though check on your meat while it is cooking as times may vary depending on your oven and the cut of meat.
How to Reheat Ribs Using a Sous Vide
Perhaps it hasn’t crossed your mind to reheat your ribs in a sous vide. Maybe you’re not even sure what this is. Well, professional chefs have been using them for years and despite the elaborate name, it only means that you use hot water to cook the food. It’s as simple as that.
The temperature of the water on the hob is easy to control. It reaches boiling point at 212F and it won’t get any hotter. You put the ribs into a sealed bag and then put it into the water and you will get all-over cooking at a temperature which won’t burn your ribs however long you cook them for.
The ideal situation is to get the temperature of the water a bit below the original cooking temperature. For example, if you cooked your ribs to a temperature of 160F, you would want the water to reach a temperature of 150F – 155F and hold it there. What you need is a good thermometer.
If you vacuum sealed your ribs before putting them in the fridge you can put this straight in the hot water. If you didn’t, put them in a watertight plastic bag.
It will probably take around an hour to reheat your ribs, but the time is worth it as you won’t lose any moisture from the ribs.
Admittedly, you won’t get a crisp crust on your ribs using this method, but you will end up with fall-off-the-bone leftover ribs.
Can I Reheat Ribs a Second Time?
If you have taken your ribs out of either the freezer or the fridge and heated them, then no, you can’t put any leftovers back in. There is a risk of contamination because of the time they spent in the danger zone of 40F – 140F. It is best to decide exactly how many ribs you are going to eat and leave the rest in the fridge or freezer.
As we have seen, it is possible to reheat ribs (even to reheat pulled pork) and get them as juicy and tender as they were the first time. You do, however, need to keep a closer eye on the timing as this can determine if you get good ribs or dry meat.