If you didn’t see my earlier post on sous vide, I got a sous vide machine for Christmas and have been having a ball learning a new cooking method that has pretty profound results on the tenderness of what’s being cooked. Check out my earlier post entitled My First Sous Vide Experience for more info on the technique and the machine I’m using.
This time I decided to be adventurous and try 24 hour Baby Back Ribs. When looking for tips and instructions, I found several folks who commented that 24 hours wasn’t long enough, and 72 hours was preferred. For someone new to sous vide, I thought 72 hours was a little ambitious, so figured I’d try the 24 hour version first, and see how it went. Then advance to 48 hours and 72 hours to compare the results.
I first made a rub of paprika, cayenne, course salt, celery salt, black pepper, cumin and a bit of chili powder. I cut the rack into 3-rib portions, rubbed them well, and then placed two sections of ribs in a large pouch, slightly separated, and vacuum sealed them. I then cooked the two pouches of ribs in 150 F degree water for 24 hours.
When I got home from work the next day, I simply removed the ribs from the water bath, took them out of the plastic, and placed them on a baking sheet. I had already made Steven Raichlen‘s sweet and smoky BBQ sauce previously, so I slathered the ribs with the sauce, and put them in a 350 F degree oven for 30 minutes, basting with the sauce every 10 minutes. At the very end, I applied one more baste of sauce, and put them under the broiler to give a little better glaze to the ribs.
So how were they? Delicious and falling-off-the-bone tender! I have to say, these were the most tender baby backs I’ve had…even compared with 6 hour ribs off the smoker. The meat easily came off the bone, the meat was juicy as can be, and the sauce baked in nicely from the time in the oven. I can imagine that 72 hours (with the same finishing treatment) would make the meat almost like pot roast…falling apart as you touched each rib.
All that raving aside, my husband and I decided that we really missed the light crust that the rub forms when put on the grill or a smoker, and we REALLY missed the smoky flavor of the 6-hour cooking with a combo of oak, apple and hickory that we usually do with the smoker. Oh those smoke rings are so yummy!
So I think I’d favor baby backs done on the smoker rather than sous vide, but if it’s a rainy time of year, I’m goin’ with the water bath and oven approach. And I have to say that the tenderness gave me great clues as to how other meats will do sous vide. I think my next cooking experiment will be pork tenderloin or rack of lamb. Now that could be fun!