If you're after smoky, savory, fall off the bone ribs, then sous vide cooking— slow cooking vacuum-packed foods under a heated water bath— is the way to go. The sous vide method will help you to achieve incredible texture and consistency throughout the meat and will reduce your prep costs by saving energy.
Cooking ribs ain't easy.
Any proud barbecue chef will cop to that. You can't just thaw and throw on the grill; bringing out the tenderness takes time.
Many barbecue restaurants rely on expensive, custom-built smokehouses. Serious home barbecue enthusiasts use big smoke barrel-style grills and a lot of wood. Cooking up a rack ends up being an all day affair; it takes careful monitoring and a lot of patience.
But the sous vide method can give back some time to the cook. True, it will still take 12 to 24 hours, but it's not 12 to 24 hours spent watching, stoking and turning. You can set it and walk away until it's time to put on the finishing touches.
Flavor to the bone.
The sous vide portion of cook time isn't for the surface flavors— you'll still achieve that on the grill. But it is for tenderizing the meat, giving it that oh so good, melt in your mouth quality. And it's better for helping the spices and flavors to penetrate the meat, so that you can get a consistent taste that lasts throughout the bite.
Before sealing your rib rack in the vacuum pack for cooking, you'll rub in your spice mixture and/or brush it with your favorite sauce. Once in the water bath, the gradual heating will slowly denature the ribs' proteins, allowing those rubbed-on spices to infuse deep down into the meat. Instead of a concentration of flavor only along the outer edges, quickly followed by a bland finish, your customers, family, or friends will notice a taste that stays on the tongue.
Sous vide locks in the natural moisture, so your ribs will never be tough or dry. Bite after bite, your ribs will be flavorful, juicy and lip-smacking good.
Once the ribs have slow-cooked through, it's time to fire up the grill and put on that crispy outer edge. But you won't have to go through cords and cords of hickory or mesquite to do it; all you need to do is re-brush to taste and caramelize the edges. It takes only minutes, takes a lot less energy and gives them the same sweet, savory flavor that a day spent in the smokehouse would have given them.
The sous vide advantage for food service providers.
Sous vide is one of the best ways to cook large, consistent batches. If you're going to be serving a lot of people, or a few, it's completely scalable. Moreover, it will give your foods greater shelf life. Because they are prepared under vacuum seal, without risk of oxidization, you can cook, refrigerate and serve days or, in some cases, even weeks later while still giving your customers the same freshness and maintaining food safety.
Ribs done right.
Don't believe us? Here's a simple sous vide ribs prep you can try on your own:
2 racks of baby-back pork ribs
12 Tbls BBQ sauce (your favorite brand or home recipe)
8 oz BBQ spice rub
Recommended Spice Rub:
- 2 Tbls garlic powder
- 2 Tbls ground cumin
- 2 tsps ground cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbls onion powder
- 2 Tbls chili powder
- 2 Tbls paprika
- 2 Tbls salt
- 2 Tbls sugar
- 2 Tbls black pepper
- Fill and preheat the sous vide container to 150°F (61.5°C).
- Rub the ribs generously with the spice mixture.
- Brush each side with barbecue sauce.
- Put the racks into a large (1 gallon / 3.8 liter) cooking pouch and vacuum seal.
- Submerge in the water bath and cook for 12 to 24 hours.
- Preheat an oiled grill or grill pan to high heat.
- Remove the racks from the pouch and brush them all over with barbecue sauce.
- If desired, sear the rack for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side to caramelize the surface and add savory flavor.