Sous Vide Ribs

You can sous vide just about anything, but should you?  I typically smoke ribs a few times a year, and mostly get pretty good results.  Exact texture can be tricky, but honestly as long as you don’t dry it out or have it be way under cooked, they are always good.  A foodie friend of my highly encouraged me to try sous vide ribs, so I took the jump.

This will be a good chance to finally field test my franken-cooler.  I have had it for over 6 months and haven’t actually used it for real until now.  By my friends suggestion I read over this serious eats article on sous vide ribs.  It is comprehensive and potentially more than you want to know about ribs.  I wen’t with some st louis cut spare ribs because that was the sale of the week.

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I went with a rub I had on hand, but did take the article’s note on salt to heart.  I had an idea to help speed up the heatup time of the franken-cooler.  That is a lot of water to bring up, and often the whole cavity isn’t full.  I filled a new paint can with just enough sand so that it wouldn’t float.  Pound for pound, water has 5 times the heat capacity of sand.  It still took forever to come to temperature.  Maybe some styrofoam weighed down with bricks would be even better.  Maybe I will just not bother to worry about it next time, once up to temp the outside barely gets warm, so it has to be pretty efficient.

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In they went at 152 for 24 hours.  They looked and smelled good a day later, but there is one final step.

The instructions had an oven or grill finish.  I opted to grill them for just a bit and throw a little bbq sauce on.  This is kind of a lot of work for ribs, but smoking them isn’t exactly simple either with the wrapping and unwrapping.

The texture was amazing of course.  There was a very consistent moisture level, rendering of fat, and soft pull apart amazingness.  The flavor was good, because it is ribs.  Still, I missed the smoke.  I think in retrospect this might be a better method for baby backs.  They are leaner and more susceptible to drying out.

Conclusion: yeah, these are really good.  It took a lot of time, but if you are around isn’t too big of a deal.  Maybe not my default method, but I am gonna have to try again with baby backs.

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