My Latest And Mostly Best Baby Back Ribs

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by daricksta, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I smoked these yesterday in my MES 30 Gen 1 over pecan wood pellets in my AMNPS. I used a rib rub recipe from one of Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe's books. My hoped-for set point was 225° but the MES controller is has been acting up. The temp stayed mostly in the high 260s-280s, lowering at times down into the 250s. No idea what's going on. For the first few hours the right side was consistently 20° hotter than the left side. I think when the wood pellets in the AMNPS turned the maze corner and were burning in the rear of the tray that reversed matters where the left side became 10-20° hotter than the right.

    I cooked them a total of 5.5 hours. By the shrinkage and bend I figured they were done. For the most part they were, but that large rack on the bottom of the photo--the biggest and thickest of the three--was almost too pink near the bone. But the rest of the meat was spot on--tender and moist and fully cooked. I smoked the ribs naked--well, I was clothed but I didn't wrap the ribs. I mopped them twice. I also turned them once so that the rack half that was on the hot right side was now on the cooler left side (until the two sides exchanged temps as I stated before).The bark came out much softer than I had hoped, considering the cooking temp was much higher than planned and I didn't wrap them. I think the racks could've easily stood another 20-40 minutes but it was 7:15 pm when I pulled them and the goal was to eat dinner before 8 pm.

    Still, the look and color of the ribs was exactly what I had been going for. And they were damn good. Overall, a qualified success.
  2. barryvabeach

    barryvabeach Fire Starter

    Looks great to me.  I don't wrap either, and enjoy them that way.  
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    The color is off the charts!

    They look delicious!

  4. parrot-head

    parrot-head Meat Mopper

  5. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    They look good!  Too bad about the wacky controller.  I got a little less than a year out of the heating element quick disconnect flag connectors.  I replaced one a month before the one year mark and the other two months after that.  I got a bag of twenty high heat Nichol plated brass connectors for under $10 online so I'm good with this Mes 40 Gen 1 until the element fails or my controller.  When this one  has a major failure, I'll switch to my unused Mes 40 Gen1 and part this one out.  This one was the one delivered by covered wagon I mentioned to you last year with dings and a major dent in the back.

  6. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks, Al! Part of that color was provided by the camera, though.
  7. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks, PaRRot-HeaD!
  8. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks, Kurt. However I lost you at heating element quick disconnect flag connectors. Is there electrical stuff I might have to replace soon that I don't know how to replace?
  9. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks. I checked out what Aaron Franklin has to say. He has written and said in interviews that he sometimes wraps ribs and then it's in foil. I figure that perhaps he might wrap St. Louis or just untrimmed spareribs depending on the situation. My pork ribs shall all remain naked from this, uh, two days ago forth. Just gotta figure out how to firm up the bark a bit.
  10. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Not necessarily.  I recommend they be checked periodically.  The back of the Mes's have a rectangular plate with six screws holding it on.  After unplugging the smoker and removing the screws and plate in seconds, you can see the wires and the shrink wrapped connection to the two heating element legs.  Bear replaced one or both of his when it failed as well as many many of us have.  These pics will help.

    New unused Mes 40 Gen 1

    Notice this Mes 40 Gen 1 is wired opposite of the one above,  leaving barely any lead to work with for wiring.  Left side is failing fast and right side starting to fail after one year.  Heating and cooling loosens the connection.  The loose connections create resistance and create more heat, speeding corrosion and failure.

    With little lead to work with I had to build a pigtail extension for future repairs if necessary.  All connections are soldered and double shrink wrapped including the pigtail. New flag connector has been slid onto the blade of the heating element leg.

    I did the same to the other side last month.  I peeled the rubber gasket off the steel plate cover so the holes in the rubber stretch over the screw heads to cover the opening without the plate.  Half of the holes were stripped in the back of the smoker.  Before I plug in the smoker I can rip off the rubber gasket and inspect before my next smoke and stretch the holes of the rubber gasket over the screw heads for a quick cover.  I suggest people unplug and inspect periodically.  The high heat flag connectors can't be crimped after the tinned wire is slid into the barrel, only soldering works with these.  The repair on the left, the original flag connector disintegrated.  I replaced the right before hand to not damage the heating element leg.  The original connector had a crimp on the wire insulation to hold it in place and a crimp to terminate it to the wire itself.  It appeared to be aluminum. 

  11. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I'm 99% sure I'm wrong most of the time but weren't you the one that just bought a bunch of butcher's paper?  I saw Franklin's naked, butcher's paper and foiled brisket comparison with a colleague of his.  I've been experimenting with corned beef flats to make Pastrami.  I had enough butcher's paper for one flat but I am now out and don't need a football fields length of it.  Next time I go to the grocery store I'll get paper instead of plastic and double bag my next flat when it stalls.  LOL

  12. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You're going to use paper shopping bags instead of butcher paper? I've got a funny mental image of a checker or bagger beginning to bag your order in plastic and you reach out your hand to block the opening of the plastic bag and say, "I prefer paper, please." The checker says "That'll be 5 cents a bag" and you say "Sold". As you push the shopping cart containing your paid groceries away from the checkstand the checker calls out "Enjoy the brisket!"

    I never thought of that but I still like having the butcher paper and look forward to experimenting with it. I watched the Franklin video after I got the butcher paper. I was also in Portland two weeks ago at an incredible bookstore called Powell's. In the celebrity chef cookbook section I found Aaron's cookbook where once again he recommended wrapping briskets in butcher paper to protect the bark. It was in the book where he talked about wrapping pork ribs in foil but in an interview I read online he said he only wraps pork butts and some ribs in foil.
  13. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My problem is that with my first readthrough of this stuff it just flies over me. As luck would have it I need to clean my MES today and I can take the time to remove that back plate. When I read about electrical connectors and shrink wrap it's hard for me to visualize. I've done my share of repairing electrical repairs around my house and installing ceiling fans, porch lights and motion detector security lights. So I have basic electrical skills and the tools, including a soldering gun, to complete those electrical projects.

    It's the particulars I'm hazy on now. What size shrink wrap do I use and how do I shrink it? I've read about guys using hair dryers. I've never used a flag or a pigtail extension and again, what sizes? And I really don't understand the whole thing about the rubber gasket and stretching it to cover the screw head openings without the cover. So, with your help, I hope to be able to understand this because I didn't that higher temps meant that wires and connections to the controller wearing out caused that. If it's a relatively easy and cheap fix then I need to take care of it.
  14. jond36

    jond36 Meat Mopper

    Franklin has a video on ribs. Just youtube "franklin bbq ribs"

    These look great btw. Nice mahogany
  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for the compliment on the ribs.

    Yeah, I've seen a couple of the videos. A SMF friend of mine gave me the link awhile ago. I bought butcher paper after watching his video on comparing naked, foiled, and paper-wrapped briskets. I'll be smoking a full packer brisket in a week or so. Going to try my hand at burnt ends.
  16. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Shrink tubing is available in an assortment of sizes and is very inexpensive.  Under $3.00 for a variety bag of twelve @ 12" each.  You just cut it to your own length.  I use a lighter, moving it quickly back and forth and rotating the wire to shrink it without scorching.  It shrinks 50% so just select the smallest size that just fits the wire.  Get someone to do it and then you'll see the simplicity of it.  The pic below shows the rubber piece with six holes that was glued to the steel plate with six holes.  Screw the screws in the back of the cabinet after you remove the plate.  Peel off the rubber from the plate and stretch it over the screw heads.  If your controller is calling for heat and your Mav is dropping , this is the first place I'd check.  You have a controller problem I believe that you mentioned, not related to this fix.  It's a matter of time before this fix is needed and checking is better than having it fail in the middle of a smoke like it happened to me.  Luckily I wheeled out my spare and got everything going again in 30 minutes.  

    daricksta likes this.
  17. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks, Kurt. I now understand about screwing the screw back in and then stretching the rubber over them. As for the shrink tubing, Just checked the Lowes site. Uh oh. An assortment pack is $39. They also have different packs with one .mm in a pack all one length. I've no idea how to measure the diameter of one of those wires to determine what size I'd need. Since I assume your MES uses the same wires as mine, what size and length of tubing did you use? And I'm guessing you cut the tubing length to fit, right?
  18. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Like I said yesterday, your controller has an issue or thermocouple or something that is causing the heat to over shoot the setting.  I don't know if your connection at the heating element is failing but that would be the opposite of your current problem (no heat when the controller is calling for heat.)  I have an electrical engineer buddy that thinks the wires to the element aren't even 16 gauge.  We Plugged in my 40" gen 1 and turned it on without setting anything so it couldn't call for heat.  With an AC volt meter on one leg of the heating element we were getting 120 volts to ground on the chassis (back of the smoker) and the other was zero.  I prefer to have the circuit open (off) on the hot side not the neutral.  Did you inspect your element connectors?  It's just a recommendation I think all MES owners should perform in 30 seconds.  If you need to replace the heating element flag connectors and you have enough lead to cut off the bad ones and can strip the wire and solder on a new flag connector, I'll mail you a couple of high heat connectors.  I have eighteen.  If you have no lead to work with I'll make pigtails (14 gauge wire double shrink tubed) with the connector already soldered on so you can solder/wire nut them to your wires.  If you need new connectors PM me or anyone else that needs a couple.  I just want to save a couple for my other smoker. 


  19. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm going to study your answer fully at another time so that I get it. My other issue is that I've got a bad, painful lower back. I can only do something like this on warm days and when the pain meds are effective since doing this kind of stuff makes the pain and stiffness worse. Getting older can really suck. So, no, I haven't inspected anything yet.

    I have a multimeter but the owners manual with it is sparsely written. I've only used it a few times, mainly to check if alkaline batteries were still good. Checking for open connections or electrical shorts have yielded spotty results.

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