SUMMERTIME… and the living’s easy..

The official start of summer is June 21, but for the consumer-driven society in which I live (America), summer starts with Memorial Weekend. This is when theme parks start extended hours, kids start getting out of school (or more restlessly sit in class waiting for the last day), and it’s OK to fire up the grill every day. Personally, I don’t like grilling (so un-American of me), but I do appreciate the food that comes off the grill. I just don’t find joy in standing there all afternoon, with the breeze blowing smoke in my face, flipping meat and standing back from grease fires. However, with the help of my brand new favorite cooking tool, I have discovered my way of making perfect ribs (the summer BBQ staple food).

Minh and I stopped by Target on Friday while we were out running errands. We were there to pick up storage containers so that I could get some of the stuff/junk out of my room and into some other part of the house (the already overly packed and unorganized garage). The Target we were at had a grocery/food section that was fairly new, so we browsed through and found full racks of baby back ribs for about $4/rack!!! That’s a steal, so we bought two racks to make for the weekend. 

Cheap Ribs.. SCORE!

I started on Sunday by smothering each rack (which I had to cut in half) with a dry rub (adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc) and vacuum sealing with the FoodSaver. 

Dry Rub:
– 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
– 1 tablespoon kosher salt
– 1 tablespoon garlic salt
– 2 teaspoons smoked Hungarian paprika
– 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
– 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– 1/2 teaspoon cumin 

the smell of that little half tsp of cumin spread through the whole house..

All rubbed up and ready to get packed away..

Sealed..

The Sous Vide Supreme was set to 150°F, and the packs went in for their 20-hour bath. 

Ready for a long bath..

Privacy please, while the meat takes a long, luxurious bath...

On Monday, I had to take them out half an hour early (only 19 hours and 30 minutes in the bath) because I wasn’t going to be home when they hit the 20-hour mark. I didn’t think this would be a big deal since they were already cooked by this time. I pulled them out and stuck them in the fridge for a few hours to firm up while I went out with Michele. I did this because if I had taken them out right away and broiled them, they would have fallen apart (so says a blog I read online). By letting them firm up in the fridge, they’ll keep their shape when you pull them out of the bags. 

About 20 minutes before dinner time (5 hours in the fridge), I pulled them out and smothered them with BBQ sauce. I used a mix of whatever we had in the fridge (names escape me now). You just need enought o cover the ribs. I also preheated the broiler while I was doing this. 

Chilled and pulled out to get smothered in sauce

Into the broiler it goes

They went into the broiler for about 7-10 minutes per side. It was only supposed to be 5 minutes per side, but I was distracted by my sister making pandan waffles. 

Making pandan waffles

mmm... green waffles..

After a nice broil on both sides, the ribs form a perfect crust with a tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. I think I did exceptionally well for only my second attempt at making ribs (the first attempt was a miserable failure with a smoker a few years ago). The meat had shrunk away from the bone a little bit becuase I had left them in a little longer than I wanted, but they didnt’ dry out. 

Out of the broiler with a nice crust and color (ok.. maybe a little darker than preferred)

Condering that it took more than 24 hours (elapsed time) to cook the meat, it might seem that it’s not worth it. But also keep in mind that most of this time is hands-free. Put the meat in the bath and walk away and do whatever you need to do for the day. The next day, pull it out and put in the fridge to chill. Also, during this time you can walk away and do whatever you want to do (watch a movie, swim some laps, run some errands, put in a good bike ride, go shopping). The only real active work is packaging (dry rub and vacuum sealing) and then finishing (smother with sauce and broil). That’s about maybe 30 minutes of active time for some pretty good ribs. I think it’s worth it. Plus, I don’t smell like burnt charcoal afterwards. 

Throughout the summer, I’ll probably experiment more with different dry rubs, BBQ sauces, and maybe cooking times. Will post comparisons as they arise.

Here’s a nice picture of Minh waiting for dinner.

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