Sous Vide Ribs – Nothing Better


Ribs for Dinner

I have been saying all along, that I would never use sous vide as a tool until I found something it does a lot better than the tools I already know how to use and the meals I know how to cook.  I already know how to cook chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, duck, and offal to perfection and also do a pretty good job on most cuts of pork and venison.

I have cooked ribs professionally for a hotel Ribs Night and roasted a whole pig for a hotel wedding that everybody loved.  I still cook an occasional pork roast or a tenderloin of pork and skip ribs because the results are inconsistent and it is too much of a culinary effort for inconsistent results.

My daughter has had the same mixed feelings about ribs and asked (told?) me before I quit on sous – vide, could I find her a decent way to make ribs and consistent London broil. Well when I started my search for a rib recipe, the highly technical article on sous vide cooking by Douglas Baldwin showed up and now that I had a working sous vide controller, I made an investment in time to skim the technical manual on sous vide.

As the author points out, sous vide means under vacuum it does not necessarily mean low temperature and he has published detailed charts of the interaction of time and temperature and meat thickness.

HOWEVER when it came to the recipe for ribs it was simplicity itself – He recommended 8-12 hours at 175.  Now that is my kind of cooking. It happens to be exactly the temperature range of a Crockpot on the low setting or my coffeepot. This is something my daughter will definitely try if it’s worthwhile as she already has a Crockpot and all she needs to purchase is a Handi-Vac for under $20. For those who care, the Reynolds Handi-Vac uses polyethylene bags which do not have Bisphenol A.

The first problem with the original recipe was the brine/marinade which called for 7-10% salt and 0-3% sugar. After a little calculation and adapting for the fact that I like the taste of Brown Sugar, my simpler brine/marinade recipe  was

Brine Recipe:

  • 16 oz. Water (2 cups)
  • 2 level Tablespoons salt
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Brown Sugar

Ribs in Brine

Mix the salt and sugar into the water, trim the excess fat off the ribs add the ribs and let soak overnight in the refrigerator. It is important to keep the marinade simple as there is no place to burn off volatile materials like alcohol or vinegar.

Wipe the Ribs Dry

The next morning, drain the ribs and wipe dry with a paper towel. At these temperatures, any excess moisture will vaporize, the bags will float and it will be difficult to guarantee uniform heating which is critical in very low temperature cooking. After the ribs are dry, use the Rub to add additional flavor to the meat.

Rub Recipe

  • 2 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon celery salt
  • 1.5Tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1Tablespoon black pepper
  • 1Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1.5 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1Tablespoon table salt,
  • 1 Teaspoon dried oregano,
  • 1 Teaspoon ground ginger

Ribs with Rub Mix

The only changes to the Rub Mixture were to delete white sugar and cayenne and add the ginger which I doubt changed the flavor at all. Mix together and rub into the meat. Store the excess in the refrigerator until the next time.

Vacuum Packed Ribs

The rest is straight forward, carefully place the ribs in the vacuum bag so that no rub or moisture gets into the zip lock area, pull vacuum and place into the coffeepot and gently wedge against the walls. In a crock pot, you could use a wire baking rack to hold the ribs in place so they don’t float.

Ribs in the pot

You can pour water on top of the ribs or get a head start by passing 10 cups of water through the coffee maker to heat it up.  My $100 sous vide controller is totally unnecessary because 175 is pretty much the natural temperature in either coffeepot cooking or Crockpot cooking and is only being used to monitor the temperature.

Coffeepot Sous Vide

At the end of 12 hours the ribs are dumped into a colander and the excess juice went down the drain. If you are a fanatic, the ribs can be darkened with a blow torch, but I find that effete touch unnecessary – especially when the ribs are smothered in BBQ sauce.

Cooked and Drained

I served the ribs with my homemade BBQ sauce, corn and potato salad which were also made in my coffeepot. This was a fantastic meal of non-greasy, tender ribs that were very flavorful without being over powered by either the brine, the rub or the sauce which all worked together to produce the end result.

My son-in-law who is a perpetual Doubting Thomas wanted to know if it was really the sous vide or was it the care and ingredients used. I told him I din’t care as I did not stand over a hot pot or a smoky grill for hours to get an end result that was as good as any ribs I had eaten in my 65 years on earth. This recipe is the first step in proving that Mathematician  Douglas Baldwin is one heck of a good cook.  I will probably stick with his higher temperature suggestions and try a few more because of previous disappointments with beef.


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8 Responses to “Sous Vide Ribs – Nothing Better”

  1. Building a Sous Vide Controller « Too Young To Be Old! Says:

    […] my daughter has pretty much given me orders that she wants me to find an easy way to make ribs.  So sous vide will get at least one more […]

  2. joanspiller Says:

    Thanks for this, I stumbled across it from the dashboard and am so glad – had been wondering what suvee’d (lol) cookery was after hearing it on top chef recently 😉

  3. Poppa John Says:

    You are very welcome, Thanks for the visit. I have to believe with everything I read this is a simple first first step to the world of Sous Vide.

    I have to give credit to Douglas Baldwin the author of the technical paper Mentioned above for the fantastic taste of this meal.

    I’ll take credit for the translation. I plan on going back to this source for a few more recipes that can be appropriately done at crock-pot temperatures. This separates the effects of vacuum and long cooking time from the very low temperature which most of us are not used too.

  4. So So Chicken Sous Vide & American Sous Vide « Coffee Pot Cooking Says:

    […] previously reported, I liked the sous vide impact on Picnic Ham,  BBQ Ribs, and Turkey.  However, this is the report on two disappointments. Since both of these meals will […]

  5. Sous Vide Short Ribs « Coffee Pot Cooking Says:

    […] decided to give it my best shot be doing a similar method to the pork ribs previously described. Brine Bath for Short […]

  6. Soo Avilar Says:

    I have been attempting to lose weight for a few months. Pills, diets, programs… nothing worked well! At the end I awakened to the fact that I was required to change my ways of eating and work out. I’m losing a lb every week by eating five-hundred calories less than I burn every day 🙂

  7. theteachercooks Says:

    I have read about this type of cooking, but have not tried it. This is quite interesting.

    • Poppa John Says:

      Sous vide is truly weird, some things are fine or even better, but some of the claimed successes appear delusional. So far other than short ribs which are generally cooked to death, I have yet to do anything spectacular with beef that I couldn’t do better on a grill especially when you use the prime cuts of meat they suggest. Also, fish is almost pure nonsense. Your choices are to cook it at 110 Fahrenheit for 15 minutes which I have yet to try or cook it for 1 hour at 140 to sterilize the fish which gives it the texture of mashed potatoes.

      The fondue pot is perfect for me when used with a good kitchen thermometer. It takes some playing but it will hold 125 within a couple of degrees so I can tested the concept by purchasing one for 29.95 instead of paying hundreds or thousands. I only cook 5 oz of meat anymore so the size of perfect. And if I cant make 5 oz taste good why would I want to cook even larger quantities of bad food in a bigger device.

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