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Sous Vide: Yankee Style BBQ Pork Spare Ribs (Indoor or Outdoor)

Pitmasters are usually skeptical about synergizing sous vide with "low and slow" smoking models. Let the results tell the story.

Ingredients

Pork Spare Ribs, 1 side, approximately 4 lb/1.9 Kg.

Powdered egg white, a sprinkling, or one fresh egg white.
Kosher salt, approximately 3 Tablespoons.
Ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons.

Brisk BBQ Sauce:

Tomato paste, 1 can, 6 oz/170 g.
White vinegar, 4 fluid oz./120 ml.
Sugar, 0.5 cup/100 g.
Worcestershire sauce, 2 fluid oz/ 60 ml.
Garlic powder, 1 Tablespoon.
Salt, 1 teaspoon.

Clarified sous vide juices (or water), 8 oz/225 ml (see below).

Equipment requirements
Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Colander
Sauce pot, minimum 2 quart/2 liter.
Kitchen tongs.
Flour shaker/sifter.
Infrared or probe thermometer.
Outdoor smoker or kitchen oven.

 

 

 

 

Serves 3-4
Level of difficulty 3

Above: Lipavi C20 container, N20 polycarbonate rack. Lipavi C20L-AO lid.

Notes:
The picture above shows an entire side of pork spare ribs. Because of the unique characteristics of sous vide, the entire cut can be divided into smaller pieces, packaged separately and processed without recalculating the time/temperature guideline. This gives you more storage and preservation flexibility. As long as the seal is not broken, refrigerator shelf life is extended to at least two weeks, not unlike a sealed carton of pasteurized milk. Once the seal is broken, the product should be utilized within four days.

Procedure:

Stage the spare ribs into dedicated vacuum bags. Seal and sous vide process at
140 F/60 C for 24 hours.

While the ribs are processing, make the Brisk BBQ Sauce using the listed ingredients. Set aside. After the 24 hours have elapsed, submerge the package(s) in iced water until they reach 70 F/21 C. Refrigerate at 40 F/4 C until use. This protects your refrigerator and its contents from temperature contamination–refrigerators are not designed to or capable of cooling hot foods in a timely manner. After cold shocking, the ribs can be kept sealed and refrigerated in this tenderized, pasteurized/preserved state for at least two weeks.

Day of service: 

Submerge the refrigerated package(s) of spare ribs in hot water for five minutes to fully melt the gel. You can use hot tap water (125 F/52 C) or the sous vide bath if you are processing something at the time. Cut open a corner of the bag and harvest the juices into a microwaveable container. Microwave process the reserved juices  for one minute. They will begin to boil, turn from pink to gray and form a sort of raft on top–this is coagulated albumins and myoglobin. Break apart and process again for 15 seconds.

Put the colander above the sauce pot and line with a moistened paper towel–the moistened towel prevents the juices from clinging to it. Pour the boiled juices through the colander.

Once clarified, the juices are the equivalent of a salt-free, reduced consommé–clear and packed with flavor. The picture below represents the juices from 1 rack of spare ribs–approximately 1 cup/225 ml. These juices can be substituted in any savory recipe that calls for water or stock.

Add enough of the clarified juices to the Brisk BBQ Sauce to achieve the desired consistency–usually about 4 oz/110 ml per batch.. Preheat the smoker to 180 F/82 C or conventional kitchen oven to 225 F/121 C.

Finish removing the rack from the packaging. Lay the processed rack on parchment or butcher paper. Pat dry with a clean towel or paper towel.

Dust lightly with the powdered egg white.

Use a spray bottle to moisten the surface. If preferred, use a fork to scramble a fresh egg white with 2 Tablespoons of water in a bowl and then moisten the top of the ribs.

Sprinkle with the kosher salt and pepper.

The egg whites replace the albumins released from the spare ribs during processing. This light coating recreates the sticky surface that is inherent in all meat and helps seasonings to adhere.

Smoke/roast for 2-4 hours or until the desired appearance has been achieved. If circumstances require it, the ribs can be oven roasted at 350 F/176 C for approximately 1.5 hours.

The protruding bones are a telltale sign of tenderness.

Coat the spare ribs lightly with the purposely thin version of BBQ sauce. This prevents the “super-sticky” result sometimes seen.

Return to the oven or smoker for 30 minutes, or until the desired color/appearance suits you.

Looking good.

The closer you get, the better…

A little something sweet and a little something savory…sous vide celery hearts, linked HERE.

and, of course, chopped parsley…

Norm King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About

All cooking processes convert collagen to gelatin--the difference between tough and tender. Pork has less collagen than beef but the muscles surrounding the rib cage work enough to demand a patient processing interval, at least by conventional standards.

What distinguishes sous vide from the slow and low barbecue method is the ultimate internal temperature of the protein. The higher the temperature, the greater the loss of moisture from the meat itself. Conventional methods usually target at least 190 F/87 C in order to tenderize spare ribs. Sous vide turns this methodology upside down and achieves tenderness without the internal temperature of the meat ever exceeding 140 F/60 C.

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