Introduction: Souse Vide Cooking Ribs Using a Joule
Souse Vide cooking technique was mostly unheard of until recently. It was actually quite common in many commercial restaurants and catering firms. By definition, it translates to "Cook under Vacuum", but in reality, it is to cook in a water bath. Using this technique, cooking temperatures can be controlled very precisely. Something that cannot be done in and oven or on a stove top. Using this cooking method, foods can be cooked for very long periods of time without the fear of overcooking, allowing for extremely tender meats that are never overcooked. To perform this you will need a couple basic items. Though there are alternatives, I am going to list the most common items.
1) A vacuum food sealing machine such as "Food-Saver" or "seal-a-meal" (there are many different models on the market)
2) A large container to hold water. One that is large enough to fully submerge the food item in and allow for water to circulate around.
3) A Souse Vide circulation pump. I use Joule, but again, there are many models on the market
This method of cooking works amazingly well when used with even low quality meats as you are able to keep the cooking temperature under precise control and cook for very long periods of time. I have used this method on London Broil cuts of beef, a piece of meat known to be tough. After 7 hours at 133 degrees, it was as tender as butter. Also, don't worry yet about the look of the food, that will come at the end, and will be easy to fix.
In this example. I am using a commercially purchased package of Kansas City style pork ribs. I found these on sale in my local grocery store at a remarkable price. As they were already seasoned and vacuum packed, a lot of my work was completed for me. Should you be preparing your own, you would want to season you ribs liberally and then seal them in your vacuum bag. I have seen many videos online regarding the method of using zip-top bags to replace the vacuum bags. I do not recommend this method as the plastic will be kept at a very warm to hot temperature for long periods of time, and unless you are sure the plastics used do not contain chemicals that will release into you food, you may be taking some health risks on that you are not prepared for.
You will want to submerge the item in the water bath fully.
It is important that the item be fully surrounded by water and that the bath not be over crowded. Maintaining a constant even temperature through the hole bath is key. You can see in the picture, I used small stones to elevate the ribs from the bottom to allow for water to move around freely. If you find your item is floating to the top, it might be necessary to weigh it down with something. I have used heavy silverware such as serving spoons in the past. Just be sure you do not puncture the bags (harder to do than you might think though), as this was change your cooking method from souse vide to boiled, and that would in general, suck.
The Joule has a clip on the side that is meant to hold the pump in place on the side of what ever container you are using. In my example however, I needed to remove the clip from the side of the pump.
I am using a large commercial food box. This one is 3.5 gallons (13.25 liters). It has a nice tight fitting lid that will help prevent evaporation during the long cooking time. To fit the Joule into this box, I cut a hole in the top with my handy-dandy roto-tool (Dremel is what I use). The clip would have been in the way and not allowed me to slide the Joule all the way into the box, unless I cut the hole larger. As I am trying to prevent evaporation, the smaller the hole the better.
You can see the Joule is seated all the way on the bottom. It is a snug fit to keep the unit upright. If you are using a different pump or container, your setup might look different.
In this view, you can see that the whole system is contained, there is plenty of room for water to circulate and any evaporation should drip back into the bath. Keep in mind that the water IS GOING TO GET HOT. use proper safety when using this method. Keep small children away form the unit, and be sure to place it on a surface that can withstand the long high temperatures. In this case, I placed a doubled towel under the bath the insulate my counter-top from the heat.
Once everything is set, you will need to set your cooking temperature. I set mine in this example to 165 and the timer to 12 hrs. I could have set it to 153 and cooked it for 24, but time was an issue if I want to eat dinner tonight.
This cooking method is not going to use the same temperatures you are used to cooking with in an over. You might find that you are asked to set the temperatures MUCH lower than you would think is safe. I am not going to get into the math to figure this out, just know that temperature is not the only part of food safety. Time is as well. Souse Vide cook times are based on Temperature over Time.
Imagine this, Many steam saunas are 160 degrees or higher. You can sit in one of those for a short time and be very comfortable, but if you are left in there for say 12 hours, you are most definitely not going to survive. Bacteria have the same issue. In chicken, 165 is considered the safe zone, but in souse vide you might set your temperature to 145, but be asked to leave it there for 4 hours or more. that would result in succulent and moist chicken that is fully cooked and SAFE.
I this Video clip you can see the water is circulating. The pump is very quiet and should not be noticable during the entire cooking time. The Joule uses an App to control the unit, and you can log in and check the cooking temperature at anytime during the process. The App is where i set the time also, so i will know when the food is done even if I am away.
Step 8: Finalizing the Cooking
After having the ribs sit in the sous vide for hours, remove and drain off the liquid into a small sauce pan. In this case, I added some brown sugar, liquid smoke, ketchup, and a little of my favorite pre-made barbecue sauce. Bring this to a boil and then simmer to reduce down to a syrup.
Finalizing the Cooking
The ribs are fully cooked and are still sealed so their shelf life is extended after they are removed form the bath. If you would like to serve the ribs at a later time rather than now, you can place the sealed ribs into your icebox.
Place the rib racks onto a sheet pan with no overlapping, this the meaty side up, and preheat your oven to a roaring 450 degrees (F). Paint the Ribs with the sauce using a brush and place in the oven. about every 5 minutes or so, take the ribs out and repaint them with more sauce. this will create a nice sticky and browned "Bark". You should only have to do this 3 or 4 times.
If you are preparing at a later time, I would recommend heating the ribs first for about 15 minutes at about 300 before adding the sauce though, just to be sure your ribs are heated through.
I would like to apologize for the lack of a final photo showing the appearance of the final ribs, Somehow I lost the pictures taken and before I realize the pictures were not save correctly, I had already finished the ribs. When I make the next set, I will perform an update to add the image. just trust me though. They were delectable,moist and tender.
There are many different devices to perform sous vide cooking. There are even some methods that allow you to improvise your own system with everyday home supplies. it is very important to understand that temperature control is extremely important. Also be aware that many of the onlien videos show it being performed in standard ZipTop bags. please take care if using any of these techniques. The plastic used in those bags are not designed for sustained high temperatures such as what is required using this cooking method. many of them "gas out" toxic chemicals.