ISO baby back rbs perfection

Discussion in 'Pork' started by falconer, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. falconer

    falconer Newbie

    As per the title, I'm always in search of perfection with ribs. I do pretty good most of the time. But... sometimes, not so much...

    Background... Currently have a GOSM gas and a Weber 22 kettle with the 3-vane lower vent.

    Last week I started a slab in the gas smoker, but after half an hour in the north wind and 30-40 temps, I was having too much trouble controlling temp/smoke so decided to give the kettle a try. Set up indirect, royal oak lump, some apple chips and hickory chunks. Digital therm probe an inch above food grate level. Worked on keeping temps right at 225, but it stayed more like 230-250. About 3 hours in the smoke, with apple juice spray after 1 1/2 hours and every half hour after that. Then foil with my foiling sauce and another 1 1/2 hours at 225 in the oven.

    Texture and tenderness was perfect. I would have won a competition with those. Perfect bark and smoke ring, bones could just about be pulled out but the meat still had a decent chew and didn't fall apart. But I had tried new rub, foiling sauce, and BBQ sauce recipes and overall it was too pepper-hot.

    So I modified my recipes and tried it again a couple of days ago. This time, I did them in the kettle from the start. I had some trouble getting temps high enough; I was staying at around 195-210 most of the time. Smoked for a little over 2 hours. It was snowing and blowing from the north, and I was losing the kettle temps. I pulled the ribs to foil them and knew they were going to be tough. The outside was dry-looking and not glistening from fat rendering. I've seen this before and it seems that once that happens, the ribs get tough. If I get that glisten on the surface, I know they're gonna be tender. Sure enough, after foiling for a few hours, they were tough and dry inside. GREAT flavor, bark, and smoke ring, but tough. An additional foiling of the leftovers the next day for a little over an hour did tender them up a bit, but still not what I'd consider acceptable. Sure tasted good though. :)

    I'm trying to figure out what causes this. My theory is that the cook temp is too low and the time is not long enough. But I'm turning to the gurus to see if I'm on the right track or if there's something else I"m doing wrong.



  2. You have to get the temp up above 215° at sea level to render the fat. I like 225°-240° you have to be able to control heat or your just along for the ride.

    Happy smoken.


    PS [​IMG]
  3. falconer

    falconer Newbie

    I'm at 4,000 feet elevation. Does that mean I need to increase temps or lower them? I would think increase...
  4. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I do most of my daily smoking on my Kettle and this time of year I am dealing with the same conditions as you. I have a Performer which is basically the same Kettle you have with a side table attached. One thing that came with this BBQ that I think is really good are these.

    I am way better able to control my temps in challenging conditions with those little baskets. Also my fuel consumption is way less than it was before. I have found that I like Kingsford blue bag better than lump as I think I get better consistent performance from it. I have had days where it is a struggle no matter what you do though. One trick I use on ribs now is to do the toothpick test along with the bend test to tell when they are finally tender. I also think not all ribs are created equal. Sometimes you just get tougher pork than others. It sounds like you did pretty good and some days that is all you can hope for. Still better than boiled and broiled right? Hahahaha..... Also I find if I get a lot of grease buildup along the sides of the charcoal grate that can cut down on the air you need for the fire to get hot enough. I have to knock that stuff down every once in a while to get temps back up.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  5. falconer

    falconer Newbie

    I am indeed looking at a pair of the baskets. I built a couple out of HD tinfoil and punched a bunch of holes in them to let ash through and it seemed to do OK. I also used 4 binder clips to hold the lid down tighter. Worked really well to prevent air leaks there. But I did something wrong with one side and the fire went out there. I just let the other side burn a little hotter rather than trying to relight the side that went out.

    I have indeed noticed a big difference between meat quality and am not sure how to judge what's best in the stores. Both of these last sets were from the same batch at Trader Joe's. Usually about the best I can get. That's why I'm thinking its more my technique than the meat, but I'd love to know how to judge the meat in the vacubags better. I usually look for a high fat content and small bones, but otherwise, it's a crap shoot...
  6. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Get the baskets and hinged grate. You can thank me later. Very much worth the meager cost. I bet ash is building up under the coals blocking the air during a cook. What I like best is that when you are done and shut everything down the fire goes out pretty much immediately and when you go to cook the next time you just shake the baskets free of ash and you have all that seasoned coal and leftover wood to start the smoke. I have no problem with getting up to temp now.
  7. falconer

    falconer Newbie

    Already have the hinged grate. Picked up the baskets today at HD on sale. Brining a chicken now, cut into 2 legs and a whole breast. It will go on in an hour or so. Also have another slab of ribs in the fridge. Gotta give the wife a couple days off between rib cooks. :)
  8. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Nice. A pan in between is nice to keep things clean but definitely not necessary. I use a cheap aluminum when doing something with a lot of bacon fat or whatever dripping. You can do potato's or whatever below whatever else you have going too. Not chicken though, I wouldn't do anything below chicken. Anyway, I hope it helps you out. 

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