Pork ribs without rub?

Flavour apart, is there any technical advantage in using a dry rub when you cook ribs?

I know that salt and sugar help tenderise the meat, but what if you just bag them up and cook them as they are without adding anything besides some salt and liquid smoke?

I don’t like rubs of any kind, I want my meat plain and simple with salt and pepper, so I was wondering if I need to consider anything “special” if I was to make SV ribs this way.

Another question: I don’t have a barbecue/grill and I’d like not to use my oven (it’s hot here) if possible, would it be advisable to finish the ribs with a torch? I have bbq sauce or honey to brush over them in order to achieve a caramelised exterior.


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Without a rub or sauce ribs don’t have much flavor. You’re better off cooking pork chops! Torching the ribs will just char them. I also suspect the meat will not be as tender as long-smoked rack. The guys at sous vide everything have a couple of rib-related episodes you might to check out.

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I tried SV’ing ribs, and wasn’t impressed:

I’m somewhere hot too (Phoenix where it’ll be 115 F on Sunday).
If you’re here too, buy a smoker.
I also, hate using the oven in the summer.

I’m a bit like you, in that I like the flavor of the ribs themselves (as long as there’s some fat that’s been cooked, on the ribs). Smothering them with BBQ sauce just kills the flavor of the meat.

I still don’t think anything beats a smoker or if you don’t have one, a barbeque/grille.
It takes a long time to SV ribs, and then you need to stick them on a smoker or BBQ to finish them off anyway.

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You present some interesting conundrums. No rub, minimal seasoning, no bbq, desire to finish with a torch.
Rubs simply represent flavor profiles for your ribs, the same as adding a bbq sauce before removing from a bbq. If you don’t like rubs and prefer minimal seasoning there nothing wrong with that. Go for it.
As far as finishing with a torch goes. You can do that, but I wouldn’t be too aggressive with the torch. BBQ sauces vary in the amount of sugar in them, but the one thing that the sugar has in common is the desire to burn instead of caramelize. That is why sauce is added and finished (dried a bit) on a low temp bbq.
I find that cooking thick pork chops for 2 hours at 140° works great for me. If I were to translate this to ribs of any style, I’d have to raise the temp to ~195°. This should achieve a perfect “doneness” that will allow you to add a sauce and lightly torch (to dry the sauce only).
If you don’t want to start off at 195°, try starting out at 165° and go up in 5 degree increments until you reach your desired level of doneness. I find that meat near the bone never seems to reach the same level of doneness as meat >1/4" from the bone. This is why I recommend higher heat than normal.
Hope this helps.

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We prefer pork spare ribs, because they turn out less greasy.
I sous vide them in a spare rib marinade from a Chinese cookbook, at 155°
for 12 hours, then a quick browning on the grill.

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