Finishing Smoked Ribs in the APC

When I smoke St. Louis style ribs, I do three racks. I remove the ribs from the smoker when they have reached 160 to 165 degrees and wrap them in aluminum foil. I then finish one rack in the oven by heating them to 190 degrees for immediate consumption (2 meals). The other two racks are allowed to cool and then vacuum sealed and frozen. When I take a rack of ribs from the, I thaw them for a day in the refrigerator, remove from the vacuum sealed bag and get them to 190 degrees in the oven while still wrapped in the aluminum foil. That takes about 30 to 60 minutes and the ribs are super tender and fall off the bone. Now I would like to take those “unfinished” ribs I currently have in the freezer and use sous vide to finish them. So, two questions: Can I/should I still shoot for 190 degrees for a short period of time or go for a more traditional 160-165 degrees for a longer time? How long should I sous vide the ribs?
I have only been doing sous vide about a year, but the more I use it, the more I want to do with it. However, I have never cranked it up to anything near 190 degrees.

My experience with SV’ing ribs:
Not what anyone wants to hear or see but my experience/opinions, nevertheless:


Maybe I did it the wrong way around - SV’ing and smoking afterward?
In any case, until I see something else brilliant, I’ll stick with the Trager smoker for my ribs.

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In thinking some more about your idea of SV’ing the ribs after smoking them, and because you haven’t had any other replies, and I too am also curious, about your idea, I’m not sure it’s a good idea.
When you smoke the ribs, you’ll be getting that nice crusty exterior, and tender, fall off the bone, interior.
I suspect that when you SV them after smoking and then freezing them, that the SV process will extract more moisture out of the ribs while in the bag, and the outside of the ribs will get all moist/wet from those juices. Don’t know for sure because I haven’t done it that way, but that’s what I’d expect as that’s what happened when I SV’d my ribs (albeit before smoking them)…

To answer one of your questions: I’ve SV’d fingerling potatoes at 185 F, and it was no problem. I’m sure you’ll be fine at 190 F. And I don’t know that ribs at 160-165 F would be warm enough for me to tuck into - I’d rather they were a little hotter, as you do when you put them in the oven at 190 F.

Give your proposal a shot, and post how it goes - I’m curious as to how they will turn out.

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The APC is fine at 190F. Make sure you use an insulated vessel that protects your countertop, minimizes water loss and with a cover that keeps your APC from being bathed in hot moisture evaporating off the surface. Never a good thing for electronics.
But 190F is way too hot for ribs.
If you want to SV them, lightly salt them and leave them for a few hours to dry brine (helps retain moisture). SV at 145F for 24 hours. If you’re vacuum sealing you may want to wrap the bone ends with some HD foil to prevent bag punctures from sharp bone edges. Then remove them from the bags, discard the salty purge, apply a salt free rib rub to the wet ribs, and smoke them for 1-2 hours at 200-225F. The moist surface helps with smoke adhesion. At this point you can glaze them with BBQ sauce and quickly grill or broil to brown and set the glaze. Or you can wrap and freeze them, then thaw them out when you want to eat them, glaze them and grill/broil to heat them up and set the glaze.
When I first got my APC I tried ribs many different ways to dial it in. If I rubbed and smoked first, then SV’d, I got a bland rib that lost a lot of the smoke and rub flavours to the purge. Smoking after SV’ing was the way to go.
That said, although SV’ing will give you a fine tasty rib, it’s different than a traditional 225F 3-2-1 smoked rib (3 hour smoke, 2 hour wrapped, 1 hour glazed) and it misses some of the texture and complexity of flavours you get with a rib smoked low and slow. BTW, when wrapping ribs for the 2 hour braise part, too many people seal the ribs up tight in foil. You want a loose wrap (just folded over) so some moisture can escape and you retain more of the bark texture.

I have done this before, smoked the ribs, vacuum sealed them and put them in the freezer, then thawed in the refrig and put them in the SV. But that being said, I don’t remember what temp I used, I am sure that 180 or 185 would be about right, and if you prefer them a little more crispy you can always pop them in the oven for a few minutes after SV, but since I slather mine with BBQ sauce I just ate 'em up. Yum!

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Once the temperature of the ribs exceeds 170F, you start to get “fat out” of the pork fat. The fat melts out of the meat and into the bag. It’s a common problem with overcooking sausages, leading to a dry mealy sausage. There are some rib recipes, mostly Asian style ribs, that want the fat cooked out before they are marinated, glazed and cooked again but those have quite a different texture and flavor from a North American style BBQ rib which I think the OP is after.