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1.) DParker - 08/19/2019
My local grocery store often has good sales on St. Louis cut pork ribs (usually being blown out for $1.49/lb vs the regular $3.49 price), so I've been grabbing several every time I can, and have been accumulating a pile of them in my freezer. I finally got an opportunity to pull one out (it was just for the wife and I...and our furry four-legged quality assurance team...so only 1 rack this time) and subject it to a sous vide bath followed by some time in the magic smoke box just to see how that works out. I also took the opportunity to experiment with a change to the usual pork rub I use (a simple mix of white and brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika), as well as adding a bourbon treatment during the smoke...because, bourbon. I was happy as could be with the results of all three, and the only mistake was trying to treat the ribs like a pork shoulder by leaving them in a 165F bath for a full 24 hours. They were still juicy and delicious, but overly tender to the point that it was all I could do to keep the rack from completely falling apart when I transferred it to the smoker. I think the temp is food, but I need to back the time down to 12 hours instead. Next time.

That said, the real success was with the rub tweak and the addition of bourbon to the party. I modified the rub by adding some ancho chile powder, cumin and espresso-ground coffee to the mix, which is exactly what the sugar-based rub needed to balance out the sweetness, as well as adding a lot more depth of flavor. Here's what I ended up with:

- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp finely ground Texas Pecan coffee (from Katz Coffee, a local company)
- 1 Tbsp ancho powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder

You'll note a total absence of salt in the recipe. This is because I always season the meat with salt before it goes into the sous vide bag as a dry brine, usually a day or two ahead of time to give the salt time to penetrate. The addition of cumin, ancho and coffee completely changed the character of this mixture for the better, and I think it's going to be my go-to rub going forward. In fact I think I'll also try adding the ancho and coffee to my brisket rub (which already contains cumin), I like them so much.

As if that weren't enough, I put some bourbon (nothing fancy, just some Even Williams 1783) into a little spray bottle that I used to spritz the ribs every 30 minutes during a 3 hour smoke. This not only keeps the surface moist and ensure that the smoke adheres, but it also adds more depth of flavor in the bargain. I don't like spraying with fruit juice given that the rub is already sweet enough, and plain water doesn't add any flavor, so bourbon does the trick quite nicely. Here's a plate with some of the resulting pig-on-a-stick, plus a deviled avocado (avocado flesh mashed with a chopped hard-boiled egg, garlic salt, a squeeze of lime and chopped scallions, all stuffed back into half an empty avocado skin and dusted with a little paprika on top):

Full size: [url]https://i.imgur.com/wVndltP.jpg[/url]
2.) bluecat - 08/19/2019
Nice, I've never heard of coffee before. Could you taste it in the ribs?
3.) DParker - 08/19/2019
[QUOTE=bluecat;58941]Nice, I've never heard of coffee before. Could you taste it in the ribs?[/QUOTE]

It's not so much that I could taste the coffee as an individual flavor per se, but I could definitely detect the subtle nutty bitterness that worked along with the mild heat from the ancho powder to balance out the sugars' sweetness. Google "coffee" and "rub" and you'll find a lot of recipes that incorporate it. This is just the first time I've gotten around to doing it myself, and I regret having put it off for so long.