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Technique used to partially cook foods in boiling water so that it can be more easily finished by a different method.
Sometimes recipes can be easier to execute on foods that have been "parboiled" to decrease their otherwise longer cooking time. It can help alleviate tricky timing concerns, particularly when a roasted, highly caramelized or crunchy exterior is desired. For example, parboiled potatoes can be added to a roasting pan with meat at the end of its cooking time. The potatoes will quickly finish as you brown them and it's easier to coordinate with the completion of the roast. It is also a good technique for hash browns and barbequed pork ribs, among other foods.
At this point, if you are thinking that parboiling sounds quite a lot like blanching, you're not wrong! When they have sprung from different places and times, culinary words like these two can seem redundant. One reasonable distinction is that parboiled foods aren't shocked in cold water because foods that require parboiling generally have longer cooking times. The point of the practice is to jumpstart the digestibility of the food so the cook can easily focus on developing the desired exterior flavor and texture; overcooking a parboiled food seems less of a concern. It may also be fair to say that blanching is a technique that is originally oriented for the specific needs of professional food service, while parboiling is the most similar household term.
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