trying to repeat the ribs

Discussion in 'Pork' started by lmhmedchem, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. lmhmedchem

    lmhmedchem Newbie

    I have a vertical charcoal barrel smoker with a computer controlled fan. I have been using it this summer, mostly for pork spare ribs. I have the smoker set at 205, and it varies between 195 and 215 or so. I smoked some ribs for 4 hours and they turned out really good. I accidentally left the draw wide open while it was coming up to temp, so it went all the way up to 350. I shut it down and got it down quite  a bit before I put the meat on, but it was hotter than normal to begin with. Still, the ribs came out very nicely.

    Later on in the summer, I tried again, this time with more meat, and I was more careful about the temps. The ribs were stacked two high on two grills, but with plenty of room for the smoke to circulate. The temps were pretty well controlled over the 4 hours, but this time, the ribs were not nearly as tender. The ribs on the bottom rack were getting over done, but those on the top were not tender yet. Every other time I have used the smoker, the top rack has been hotter by 8F or so.

    I am going to try again soon, but I would like some advice on how to adjust. My instinct is to cook for 5 hours at 195F instead of 4 hour at 205, but I though it was a good time to ask.

    I am cooking with lump hardwood charcoal and a small amount of hickory chips. The ribs are in wet marinade for a day, and then dry rub for a day. I open the smoker once at the mid point to check if things need to be re-arranged.

    Thanks for the advice,

  2. smokinal

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

    [​IMG]    Glad to have you with us!

    I suggest taking the free e-course, then check out the 3-2-1 method for ribs.
  3. lmhmedchem

    lmhmedchem Newbie

    Thanks for the reply. Where do I take the course? I have done quite a bit of reading and have been cooking/grilling for many years. I just recently built a smoker with one of my friends since we enjoy bbq so much. My rib method is adapted from when I did then on a grill, so I'm sure it needs some correction.

    Another post suggested that my temps were too low and that I should be cooking at ~250F. They questioned how the ribs could be done after 4 hours at 205F. This would imply that my temp reading setup isn't getting things quite right, like maybe my thermistors aren't far enough into the barrel. Does this make sense to you?

  4. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  5. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Yep gotta do the course...Welcome !
  6. lmhmedchem

    lmhmedchem Newbie

    I have actually read a great deal on bbq cooking of all kinds. I have signed up to receive the course, but I will be cooking again tomorrow. In short, when I cook tomorrow, should I cook at higher temps, or lower/same temps for longer time? I don't know if that can be answered based on the information I have given, but I will have to make that decision one way or another. Is it reasonable to assume that my smoker temps are higher than the 205F I am reading if the ribs are getting done in ~4 hours?

  7. smokinal

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

    The first thing you need is a good thermometer.

    A digital one with a wired temp probe is the best.

    You can get one at Wally World for around $20.

    Put it through a potato so the end is sticking out & put it on the grate next to the ribs.

    Then you will know the exact temp you are cooking at.

    If you are cooking a piece of meat other than ribs, you need another probe for the meat so you can monitor the internal temp. 

    You should check the therm before you cook.

    Check it in boiling water, it should read 212-213.
  8. lmhmedchem

    lmhmedchem Newbie

    I have two thermometers in my current setup, one for each grill. Each one passes through a rubber stopper in a hole drilled in the side of the smoker. They stick about 3" into the smoke chamber. These have been calibrated in boiling water. The temp probes are connected to an Arduino board which regulates the speed of the fan that blows air on the coals. My guess is that the probes are too close to the side and don't get the temp right. I can try with the potato, or I can add a third oven thermometer sitting at the center of the grill to see if there is a difference.

    Should I check the internal temp of the ribs with a probe to make sure they are done? If so, what temp should I be looking for?


    Last edited: Jul 31, 2011
  9. smokinal

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

    I've never checked ribs with a probe.

    I just grab 2 bones & if they tear apart easily they're done.

    The thing about ribs is, it seems everybody has an opinion about what ribs should taste like and how tender they should be.

    Everybody here likes them fall off the bone tender.

    If I can hardly get them off the grate without them falling apart, that's how they like them, so that's how I fix them.

    I used to smoke ribs at 210-215, but lately have been smoking them at 250. I like the results better at the higher temp.

    They seem to be more tender & juicy.
  10. africanmeat

    africanmeat Master of the Pit OTBS Member

      Yes this is the right way (the scientific way) [​IMG]    

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