If 72 hours sounds like far too long to wait for your food to cook, then turn around now and go grab a fast food hamburger. But if you love food, and I mean truly love food to the point where you are thinking about it, learning how to make it and always on the search for something new to taste, then you will want to read this account of how to make cook short ribs in a sous vide machine for 72 hours.
72 hours for melt-in-your-mouth short ribs. You can do this.
This idea came to me through my recent addiction to scouring Reddit for all things cooking, in which I found the subreddit for sous vide. Several people posted about 72 hour short ribs, and since I absolutely love short ribs more than many other things in life, I started reading about why the 72 hour method is frequently used.
WHAT IS SOUS VIDE COOKING?
Sous vide is a method of cooking food in vaccum sealed bags that are submerged in water. The water is heated to a specific temperature and the item cooks for a certain amount of time, evenly cooking it without fear of the outside burning or the inside being under cooked, which you may risk with other cooking methods.
Sound interesting? I have used my ANOVA sous vide immersion circulator several times now. Please read my Introduction to Sous Vide Cooking for complete directions on why and how this method works, what tools you need and how to simply cook the best steak of your life. I’ll give you some tips below, but that post is a great prep piece for understanding this method.
Why short ribs? If you’ve had them, I probably don’t have to answer that question for you. Short ribs are DELICIOUS. End of story. Prior to this recipe, my favorite way to enjoy this cut of meat was in short rib poutine. I’ve also slow cooked short ribs in beer to not only tenderize the meat but fill it with tasty beer. Yay beer!
But because I am all about learning everything there is about how we eat, let’s watch this video together to see where the short ribs come from:
SOUS VIDE 72 HOURS
72 hours is a long time, trust me. I know. I had to listen to the buzz of the machine for 72 hours! Here, the temperature drives the cooking time. Short ribs are tough and require slow cooking to break up the fibers in the meat, making them edible and eventually super tender and delicious.
I chose to cook these ribs for 72 hours at 138 degrees Fahrenheit / 58 degrees Celsius as recommended by the book Modernist Cuisine At Home. Oddly enough, their siterecommends 62 degrees Celsius, which is different than the book, but they explain how a variation of temperatures will provide a different texture.
Here’s why 72 hours works – if your oven were at 138 degrees, it sure would take a long time to cook anything, right? Not to mention ovens leak air and circulates poorly, therefore leaving you with overcooked meat on the outside and undercooked meat on the inside. The sous vide water bath method is combats this by slowly heating the meat and then holding it at that temperature long enough to kill harmful bacteria and cook the meat throughout.
To begin, vacuum seal the short ribs in plastic bags. For two people, we purchased 6 short ribs at about 2.75 pounds. We ended up only eating two per person and saved two for the next day.
As a control method, I did not add any oil, butter or seasoning to the meat. However, writing this after I made the ribs, I would lightly salt the meat on all sides. This is a short video so you can see what the short ribs looked like before going into the water bath.
Set your sous vide machine to 138 F /58 C and the timer to 72 hours. If you are using a pot like I am, cover the top with foil to prevent water from evaporating. I had to add 8 cups of hot water on day 2 because so much water had evaporated even with the foil. The water was not boiling but warmer than lukewarm, and once added to the pot, the temperature rose back up in less than 5 minutes.
It may not resemble short ribs now, but that’s okay. I was surprised at the change in color. Discard the juices and the bags.
You can see the brown outer appearance on the areas exposed to the plastic bag. The sides that touched another short rib gave me a glimpse of what the inside looked like.
There is a good amount of fat that is still solid on the short ribs. Don’t worry, we have a method for rendering it.
This is what the meat looks like throughout – still pink from being cooked but not overcooked. Any cut of beef will look like this after sous vide cooking. The pink shows the tender meat, just waiting for you to rip in with a fork and tear into it, but we have one more step to go.
Now we need to deal with that fat. Grab the oil, it’s time to deep fry!
Yes, deep frying the meat is the preferred method for giving the meat that desirable crust we all love cutting and biting into. All you need to do is heat your frying oil in a large dutch oven or skillet and place a candy thermometer on the pot to gauge the temperature. When the temperature hits 350 degrees Fahrenheit, you may begin frying the short ribs one at a time for 25-40 seconds or until the short ribs have lightly crisped up on each side. It will not take long – you don’t want to over cook the meat.
Salt the short ribs after frying and serve. You are about to enjoy the most tender short ribs you can imagine.
Here’s that same short rib above after being deep fried. Most of the fat has rendered, but some of the fat deep inside the short rib has not. You’ll just want to push that away and not eat it. The amount of fat will vary widely on each short rib you purchase.
You know how these short ribs make me feel? Joy. The joy you have when you are riding a bike on the first warm summer day of the season. Or when you know that good things are about to come to fruition. When you know how tender and superior short ribs can be to any other meat, then you can wait the 72 hours to make this dish. Yes, you can.
Served over a bed of golden mashed potatoes with beef and shallot gravy, these short ribs are a delicacy from a chef’s kitchen to your home. Aren’t you glad you waited a few days? I sure am.
72 HOUR SOUS VIDE SHORT RIBS
- ANOVA Sous Vide Immersion Circulator or the sous vide machine of your preference
- Food Saver vacuum sealer
- Vacuum sealing bags
- Large stock pot and large dutch oven
- Aluminum foil
- Candy thermometer
- 6 short ribs
- 1 liter frying oil – such as vegetable, peanut or canola
- 6 medium golden potatoes
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 small shallots, diced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup beef stock
For the sous vide machine: Place the ANOVA circulator on the large stock pot and fill the pot with cold water about 2 inches under the max fill line. Turn the machine on and set it to 58 degrees C / 138 degrees F.
Vacuum seal the 3 short ribs in one plastic bag. Place them in the circulator and clip the tops of the bags to the side, ensuring that the meat is completely submerged in water. Set the timer for 72 hours. Place foil around the top to prevent water from evaporating.
After the 72 hours is up, remove the bags from the water and cut them open. Set the short ribs on a plate.
In a large dutch oven or iron skillet, set the candy thermometer on the edge and pour in the 1 liter of frying oil. Heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees. Turn the heat down and begin frying the short ribs one at a time. The oil will splatter a lot because of the moist short ribs so be careful! Fry them for 30 seconds or until lightly crisp on the outside. Repeat for each short rib.
Make the mashed potatoes by boiling water in a large stock pot on high heat. Add the diced potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and add in two tablespoons of butter, a few pinches of salt and pepper and whisk either by hand or with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Slowly add in the milk and whisk until creamy.
Make the gravy by heating two tablespoons of butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add the diced shallots and cook about 5 minutes or until onions are soft. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Slowly pour in the beef stock and whisk until gravy is thick, about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if you like.
Place a dollop of mashed potatoes on a plate. Set the short ribs on top and pour the gravy around the potatoes.