— How about the best sous vide ribs you’ve ever had? —
It’s almost summer, and that means everyone I know is firing up their grills. Well, the luckiest among us are heading to Julie’s house for dinner, because she’s FAMOUS for her barbecue sous vide ribs.
Julie, the Fearless Fresh production coordinator, has brought us a ton of sweet recipes in the past few years: her epic peach and blueberry upside down cake, a strawberry pie to die for, and what is very likely the best tiramisu you’ll ever eat. I think it’s funny that all of her posts thus far have been baking recipes, because Julie is most well known for her dinnertime prowess. Seriously — the woman cooks a dinner so beautiful she can bring you to tears. Her sous vide ribs are a perfect example of that. They’re moist, incredibly flavorful, and so tender that they feel like velvet in your mouth. She makes them whenever I visit her in Seattle, and those freaking ribs are always the highlight of my trip.
Sous vide is a thing for us.
I haven’t posted a lot of sous vide recipes here, mostly because not a lot of folks have a sous vide circulator, but I personally love this way of cooking and sous vide recipes are surprisingly quick and easy to prepare. Think of sous vide like a water-based crock pot that cooks everything to the perfect temperature. There’s no guesswork of is it over- or underdone? because you set the water to the temperature you want, and the food never gets any hotter than that.
If you’re in the market for a sous vide circulator, Julie and I both use the Joule by Chef Steps. (No, this is NOT a sponsored post — we both love this thing and use it in our daily lives.) It’s the easiest and sexiest circulator we’ve used, and we both have tested a bunch of different models. The Joule is easy to control from your phone and doesn’t take up a lot of space in your cupboard. Seriously, it’s smaller than a rolling pin. And the app you use to control it gives you photos of what your meat will look like when it’s been cooked at all the given temperatures, so it takes the guesswork out of figuring out what temp to cook your meat to. AWESOME.
Now that I’ve blathered on for half a page, here’s Julie talking about why she loves sous vide (and these ribs) so much. Enjoy!
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All About Julie’s Sous Vide Ribs
One of the things that I enjoy doing in the kitchen is trying out new toys. Um, I mean cooking tools. One of my favorite tools is an immersion circulator for cooking sous vide. I became intrigued with this type of cooking when local Seattle chef and author Dr. Nathan Myhrvold published a set of books called Modernist Cuisine, which “explores the history of cuisine and explains the science of cooking in a way that’s accessible to both professional chefs and home cooks.” I was fortunate to attend a cooking class when the books were published, and I got hooked on sous vide almost instantly.
The ability to bag your food and cook it at a precise temperature was so fascinating that I had to try it. My enjoyment of sous vide cooking has become an obsession. I now own two different styles of circulators, but my favorite is from Chef Steps called the Joule, which is really cool because there is an app for it that manages the temp and time. (I can even tell my Alexa/Amazon Echo to turn Joule on and set the temperature with voice commands!) I have played around a bit with different vacuum sealers and ended up getting one that is so heavy I just barely got it in the door, but hey that is a different story. Thankfully you don’t need a sealer to cook sous vide recipes. You can use the water displacement method instead (link in recipe, below).
Like most people, I started out sous vide cooking steaks and salmon. Then I thought, why not try some baby back ribs? Cooking sous vide ribs will become your new go-to recipe for ribs. I recently went to a restaurant that made 36-hour sous vide beef short ribs. Yup, you guessed it — this week I am trying to make the same recipe at home.
The best sous vide ribs are right here, by Seattleite Julie Dreyfoos. Finished on the grill, these are 1000% the best ribs you've ever eaten. Pinky swear. These ribs are fall-off-the-bone delicious. Super easy to make, with almost zero work.
- 4 pounds (2 whole racks) baby back pork ribs, cut to make 4 half slabs
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup barbecue rub, (use your favorite)
- 2 cups barbecue sauce, (use your favorite)
Prepare your sous vide setup by bringing your water up to 158°F (70°C).
While the water is coming to temperature, prepare your ribs. Pat the ribs dry and coat all racks lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the ribs generously with your favorite meat rub.
Put each rack into it's own sous vide or ziplock bag. Seal the bags shut with a vacuum sealer. Place the ribs in the water bath and let them cook for 12-24 hours. The longer they cook, the more tender they will be. (If you don't have a sealer, use the water displacement method to force excess air out of the bag.)
- Once the sous vide ribs have cooked 12-24 hours, preheat your grill (if grilling) or turn on your broiler (if broiling). Take your ribs out of the water bath and gently remove them from the bags. Be careful because they will be very tender and want to fall apart on you.
Lightly pat the ribs dry. If you are grilling, place ribs directly on the hot grates of your grill. If you're broiling the ribs, place them in a single layer on a broiler pan.
- Use a pastry brush to slather the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. Once the ribs are hot, gently flip them over and slather the other side. Be gentle while turning over, because they'll want to fall apart on you. After a few minutes, gently flip them again and sauce a third time. I usually sauce both sides twice, flipping a few times to make sure the sauce doesn't burn.
Once the ribs are good and hot, gently remove them from the grill or broiler. Serve immediately.
Special equipment: Immersion circulator, four very large sealable plastic bags, a deep water container large enough to hold all four bags of sous vide ribs comfortably and still allow the water to circulate. (We use commercial-grade Cambros because they're light and indestructible.)
There are so many barbecue spice rubs out there, so don't be afraid to play around. (For example, I like to use some that are made with ground coffee.) When choosing a rub, be careful with the salt content -- the less salt the better, as salt can cause meat to be less juicy when cooked for very long periods of time, like it is in this recipe.