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Sous Vide: Dry Rub Pork Spare Ribs

Pork spare ribs have become one of the most popular synergies of sous vide processing and traditional rustic culinary styles.

Ingredients

Pork Spare Ribs, 1 side, approximately 4 lb/1.9 Kg.
Powdered egg white, a sprinkling, or one fresh egg white.

Night Tripper Dry Rub, one recipe.

Brisk Barbecue Sauce for dipping, (optional), as outlined HERE.

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. If preferred, 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, assemble the rub 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 day of 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. Set aside for future application, HERE is a BBQ sauce that uses these juices.

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. 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.

Sprinkle the Night Tripper rub outlined in the list of ingredients over the moistened surface.

Allow to rest for at least fifteen minutes to give the seasonings time to cling. Repeat the process on the other side if desired.

Use cooking spray to lightly coat the surface–this encourages even browning. Stage the spare ribs into the smoker or oven, roast for at least two hours before opening the chamber–this prevents the unnecessary loss of heat.

Continue roasting until desired appearance is achieved–usually about 2.5 hours total.

One visual test of doneness is the protrusion of bones. Because of the sous vide processing, tenderness will not be an issue as long as the time and temperature guidelines are followed.

Carve between the bones and serve!

Enjoy!

Norm King

About

Using sous vide to tenderize and pasteurize pork spare ribs makes this popular home style dish much less of a chore than ever before. As time consuming as slow roasting/smoking is for tenderizing spare ribs, this method divides the process into two simple steps--sous vide tenderization/preservation while you are at work (or asleep!), and then a finishing process that can be completed in a mere two hours.

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