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Good Reasons for Parboiling Rice & Other Foods

Parboiling the good stuff
Parboiling the good stuff

Updated July 15th, 2020

Here are some good reasons for using parboiling as a first step in preparing some of your foods.

Keeping Only The Good Stuff.

Some meats are best when you sear them to capture more of the moisture and help prevent toughness. However, there is another way to precook meat as a way of prepping it for a longer cooking process: parboiling. Some meats, like turkey, duck or lamb, retain a gamey taste no matter how long you cook them. You can cut this down some, however, if you parboil the meat first.

Whole chickens, beef, pork ribs and other meats become more flavorful when they are parboiled. Partially cooking and rinsing also removes any bone dust or tissue debris that might remain from carving or processing the meat.

Mac and Cheese, Together At Last!

The entire point of having elbow noodles is to thoroughly enjoy the texture of them, especially if you have chosen the pasta that has ridges. Be mindful not to overcook the pasta. The best way to avoid this is to cook the noodles ahead of time by letting them parboil. You can rinse away the starchy liquid, let the noodles cool and have a ready main ingredient before baking old-fashioned mac-n-cheese.

I have a hilarious Thanksgiving horror story about a family who had spent years bragging about how delicious its holiday mac-n-cheese dish was. All of the relatives stood in line to fight over it. Then, they tasted it. They should have been knowledgeable about the power of the parboil. Maybe my family would have had at least a spoonful. Everyone loves a good bowl of mac and cheese. Just typing about mac and cheese makes my mouth water.

You Have to Precook the Rice

My son's favorite dish is dirty rice. No matter how much of it I cook, he tries to convince everyone in the room that it all belongs to him. I remember this even when he was five. He asked me the same question every time: "Mom, what are you guys going to eat?"

His question was a deep compliment, but I had to try to discourage him from thinking that he could eat the entire pot. Now that he is an adult, he is still trying to perfect his own dirty rice recipe to match the batches I cooked for him as a child. I show up for dinners at his house and sit at his table waiting for him to put a helping on my plate. After a couple of bites, I turn to him and ask: "Son, what are you guys going to eat?"

Preparation for Roasting

One of the best reasons to parboil food is to prepare it for roasting. Taking the step to partially cook vegetables and meats almost ensures a lower cook time and a more succulent final dish. Often, unless you partially boil potatoes, the end result will be very dried out. To avoid this, many people use olive or coconut oil to try to capture moisture. This does not always penetrate moisture to the inside of the potato. 

Coveted Fast-Pace Cooking.

To most, this represents an extra step that delays the moment when they can sit down and sink their teeth into a meal. The act of parboiling, however, is not a long, drawn-out process. The boiling process takes only a few minutes and guarantees a finished dish that is irresistible.

People's lives are so busy and moving so fast that they do not take a moment to enjoy things like preparing a meal. They are looking for the most convenient shortcuts they can get. This has become the way of the world. Many quick cooks do not realize, though, that the art of parboiling is all about elevating the taste of your final dish. A few precook minutes is worth that.


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