It's summertime, which means it's the perfect time to fire up the grill! For those who can't get enough of barbecuing and all that it encompasses - great weather, family and friends, and a cold, refreshing beverage - well... this blog is NOT for you! This is a blog for those of us who love delicious BBQ just as much but prefer to cook indoors with A/C and my choice of a heavy stout, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Sous Vide. This French slow-cooking method is an absolute lifesaver for those of us who love food done right as much as, if not more than, our leisure time.
Let's do a quick comparison between these two methods of cooking:
- Both methods involve extended cooking with marinade to tenderize the protein and infuse maximum flavor.
- Traditional BBQ creates a crucial crust through open flames, which can be mimicked with a blowtorch after the sous vide method.
- Achieving the signature smokiness of BBQ is optional but recommended. A smoke box is a preferred option over disposable smoke pouches made from aluminum foil.
- Rendered fat and drippings from the meat falling onto hot coals or wood create flavorful smoke that enhances the taste of traditional BBQ ribs. To imitate this effect in sous vide-cooked ribs, we can brush the exterior with butter after caramelizing and optionally smoke the butter to add extra smokiness if desired.
- Traditional BBQ cooking with an open flame results in more moisture loss and a more intense flavor. Sous vide retains moisture, creating juicier and milder ribs, which I personally prefer.
24-48 hours Sous-vide cooking time
Gears to get
Season the Beef Ribs:
- Rub the beef ribs with your preferred beef seasoning or rub. Ensure that the ribs are evenly coated with the seasoning to enhance the flavor.
Vacuum Seal the Ribs:
- Place the seasoned beef ribs in a vacuum-sealable bag or a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag.
- Seal the bag using a vacuum sealer or the water displacement method to remove most of the air.
Sous Vide Setup:
- Preheat your sous vide water bath to the desired temperature. For beef ribs, a temperature range of 135°F to 155°F (57°C to 68°C) works well, depending on your desired level of doneness.
- Once the water bath is preheated, carefully lower the bag of beef ribs into the water, ensuring they are fully submerged.
Sous Vide Cooking:
- Cook the beef ribs in the sous vide bath for an extended period, typically between 24 to 48 hours. Longer cooking times will result in more tender and succulent beef ribs. (scale from remaining a little bite to fall-of-the-bone). If unsure, try 30 hours to start with. Test it and if not tender enough, put back into the water bath. Keep testing till the rib reach to desire tenderness.
- Cooking beef ribs at lower temperatures (135°F to 145°F / 57°C to 63°C) will yield medium-rare to medium doneness, while higher temperatures (150°F to 155°F / 65°C to 68°C) will result in a more tender and well-done texture.
Finishing the Beef Ribs:
- Once the sous vide cooking is complete, carefully remove the beef ribs from the bag and pat them dry with paper towels.
Blow Torch or Broil:
- Torch or broil the beef ribs until they reach the desired level of char and crispiness.
- During the final minutes of torching or broiling, generously brush BBQ sauce onto the ribs.
- The high heat will caramelize the BBQ sauce, creating a delicious glaze that enhances the flavor and adds sweetness to the beef ribs.
- Be careful not to leave the ribs under high heat for too long with the sauce to prevent burning the sugars in the sauce.
Brush with Butter (if not using BBQ sauce):
- After searing the ribs, melt the unsalted butter. If prefer some extra smokiness, melt butter in a smoking device or smoker box, adding your favorite wood chips for a smoky flavor.
- Brush the melted butter onto the seared ribs, ensuring an even coating for added richness and flavor.
Demo video of how to sear proteins (steak in this case). Because we are making ribs here with its naturally curved shape, flamethrower (torch) is actually the best way here to create that chard and crusty finish. It's towards the end of the video (14:30) if you want to skip straight to the flamethrower part.
Sous vide is undoubtedly my favorite method of cooking proteins. My busy schedule, combined with my appreciation of well-cooked meal, makes this process a lifesaver for perfecting my everyday life. The only downside is that it is a time-consuming practice when compared to stovetop and oven-cooking. To offset this, I have grown accustomed to organizing my meals ahead of time. If you, like me, lead an active lifestyle, but food is still a significant aspect of your life, sous vide can be your solution for a healthy and enjoyable equilibrium.