A couple of weeks ago Pam and her husband, Dave, were down for the weekend and we made a big batch of baby back ribs for a barbeque party. I’d rubbed the ribs with my spice mixture, let them marinate for two days, and then prebaked them in the oven. The final step sent them off to the grill with some of Pam’s Pomegranate Barbeque Sauce for a quick sear. They were simply delicious.
Later, Pam and I brainstormed a few sous vide recipes, and we decided to give the ribs a go-round in the water bath. Although another friend insisted the original method couldn’t be bettered, that just encouraged us to experiment. The following weekend I purchased more baby backs, gave them a spice rub, and put them in the water oven for 8 hours. They blew my mind. Perfect texture, perfect color, and even more flavor than with the conventional method.
A spice rub is simply a mélange of dried spices and herbs mixed together and applied to meat, poultry, or seafood to enhance the flavor of the final product. This recipe makes about 1¼ to 1½ cups of rub and that’s enough to coat many racks of ribs, a brisket, a pork roast — whatever you’re in the mood for at the time. Store the excess in a glass jar with a tight lid and it will keep indefinitely in a cool, dry pantry.
This rub has a wonderful addition of long pepper, which has an indescribable flavor and the appearance of a tiny black pine cone! I grind the dried pepper berries in a mortar and pestle as finely as I can. It is an essential part of this rub’s flavor. I’m fortunate to have a local purveyor that carries it but you may have to order it online. It’s worth it!
There are many wonderful combinations of herbs and spices to complement meat, and my rub has evolved over the years. Let your imagination run wild with your own rub if you’d like, but do try baby back ribs sous vide–style.
Serves 2 generously, doubles or triples easily
- Rinse the ribs and pat dry. Cut them in half for easier handling if desired. Drizzle the ribs on both sides with enough Worcestershire sauce to coat. Sprinkle both sides of the racks with spice rub, then massage the rub into the ribs, covering as much surface area as possible. Arrange in 1 or 2 food bags, vacuum seal, and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 48 hours.
- Preheat the water bath to 131ºF (55ºC). Cook the ribs for 8 hours or up to 12 hours; the results at this temperature will be medium rare.
- Remove the ribs from the bags and transfer to a platter or cutting board and brush generously with barbeque sauce. Place on a hot barbeque grill for final searing, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Enjoy!
Makes about 1¼ to 1½ cups
- Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store any unused rub in a tightly sealed glass jar.
Barbeque sauce is a must-have staple of the well-stocked pantry. Slathered on pork ribs, beef, or chicken, it adds a sweet-tangy note to the smoky elements of grilled meat. Pomegranate molasses is a perfect base for barbeque sauces with its distinctive tart yet sweet-fruity flavor. Adjust the final balance of the sauce to your palate by adding more vinegar or some cayenne pepper and salt to taste.
Makes about 2 cups
- Pulse the onion and garlic in a small food processor or blender until the mixture is very finely chopped. Alternately, you can do this by hand with a sharp knife.
- Place a heavy, medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion-garlic mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the ketchup, pomegranate molasses, sugar, vinegar, thyme, cumin, and paprika and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have developed, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and add cayenne pepper and salt if desired. The sauce can be cooled and refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 week.