tweaking a good rib method

Discussion in 'Pork' started by tasunkawitko, Jul 26, 2008.

  1. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    this will be my third attempt at spare ribs, evolving a method that has been working very well for me. as of 0000 on 26jul08, i've got the ribs cut, the membrane on the bone side trimmed off and the ribs prepared and waiting in the fridge until morning.


    like the last two times, i have brushed on a light film of yellow mustard, then applied durkee's st. louis style rib rub before covering with saran wrap and refrigerating overnight. if anyone figures out a "home-made" rub that duplicates durkee's, without all the salt and also without the added smoke flavoring, please let me know. i plan eventually to do some experimentation of my own in an attempt to achieve this goal, but it will probably have to wait until winter.


    in any case, tomorrow i will fire up the ECB and throw the ribs on when it gets warmed up good. i intend to cook between 230 & 250 degrees, never more or less, if i can help it, until they are done. i really like the dr. pepper/soy sauce mop, and this time will use low-salt soy sauce in an attempt to get more flavor with less blood pressure. i also liked the effect that a little olive oil in the mop had last time, but will use much less of it this time, say 40% dr. pepper, 40% soy sauce and 20% olive oil. i will only mop once an hour, rather than once every half hour, and the last hour, when the ribs will be pretty well basting themselves, i will not mop. another variation is that, while i will be rotating and turning them halfway through cooking the same way i have been, i will start them out bone-side-down rather than bone-side-up, as i have done in the past.

    however, i will try a finishing glaze the last 15 minutes or so. i haven't done this before, so it will be an interesting experiment. the finishing glaze will consist of 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/3 cup of yellow mustard, simmered for half an hour or so before being brushed on both sides. evidently, the trick is to put it on soon before the ribs come off the fire, so that the glaze glazes via carmelization, but doesn't burn. we'll see if i'm any good at it. no sauce planned for these ribs, as i have found it to be unnecessary due to all of the flavors already present from the rub, the smoke etc.

    another difference is that, due to availibility, i will be using briquettes rather than lump charcoal that i have used in the past. after a nasty experience with wal-mart briquettes, i am using and will only use kingsford briquettes, which i will light not with lighter fluid, but with a chimney charcoal starter that i picked up last week.

    as for the smoke, it will most likely be hickory again, although i am thinking of maybe trying maple or apple, maybe.....i am going for a deep smoke ring again, so i will put the cold ribs in a warm smoker (220-230 degrees) and trust that no creosote will develop, since it hasn't the last two times.

    that's it so far, i will be interested in seeing if the little tweaks here and there improve the final product. will update as time progresses. as always, any suggestions, feedback etc. appreciated.
  2. erain

    erain Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    nice laid out planning with detail enough to duplicate or to make adjustments for next time. will be watching this with interest. nice post, is well laid out and cant wait for finaly!!!
  3. waysideranch

    waysideranch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looking good Witko.
  4. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Nothing wrong with Durkees, a great store bought rub. Also nothing wrong with briquettes. Have a great smoke
  5. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Good post Sir! Er... I think sir...anyway... Well done. My POINTS for today go to you!

    And rubs are tricky...but they CAN be duped. Maybe I'll get a bottle of that and see what I can come up with. I find doing that fun!
  6. lcruzen

    lcruzen Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sounds like an interesting smoke that is definitly outside the box. Looking forward to the progress.
  7. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    0830 - lit a charcoal chimney 3/4 full with kingsford (i intended to fill it, but it sure seemed like an awful lot, so i backed off a bit), got my hickory chunks soaking and started a big pan of water boiling for the water pan.


    thanks for the replies, guys - i try to be thorough in my record-keeping as it is the only way to know where you've been and where you are going (not to mention where you are!). i was trained as an historian, so good records are a natural for me, it's just a matter of adjusting the record-keeping to the situation; so fqar, i think i'm doing alright.

    erain & wayside - thanks for the encouragement; i'll try to live up to expectations!

    flash - i've had really good luck with durkees; so far it is the only rub i've used, but i figure if i found a flavor i really like so far, there's not too much reason to mess with it until i advance a bit. as for the briquettes, burning kingsford happens to be a smell and give a flavor that i like, so i think it will be OK - i sure do like that lump, though and wish it was more available up here in the middle of nowhere!

    richtee - thanks for the points! yep, it's definitely sir; if it weren't, my wife wouldn't have been able to stand me all these years because i'd make one real slob of a woman! if you do try any experimentation with duping durkee's, let me know if it works, and if it doesn't. in my way of thinking, "failures" are as important as successes, maybe even more so, for they point the way toward experimentation and improvement.

    lcruzn - i'll keep you informed!
  8. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    0900 - ok, i must be bumping up against some kind of learning curve with this charcoal chimney. i put the charcoal in the top part, stuffed paper in the bottom part, lit it and waited 1/2 an hour like a good doo-bee, but when the half hour was up i had only two very tiny corners of two very bottom briquettes turning a weak grey.

    i stuffed more paper in the bottom, lit it up and will try again. in the meantime, i'll see if i can do a little reading and try to find out if i am doing anything wrong. i do not want to use lighter fluid, but will if i have to!
  9. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    1000 - well, the 2nd attempt must have done the trick, because by 0930 they were burning well. i just put the ribs on, the smoker temp looks to be somewhere between 250 and 250, and i've got some nice, modest hickory smoke coming off the coals.

    i am using something that i think is the minion method. i am dumping most of a chimney of hot briquettes onto this (below) and then putting the hickory chunks on top. i will shake/stir the charcoal pan as needed to keep the briquettes hot.


    on a side note, either kingsford has changed their "recipe" for briquettes, or it was actually the lighter fluid smell i was in love with. they don't smell bad, but certainly not quite what i remember. i'll have to stock up on lump charcoal when it's available!

    going to prepare my mop of equal parts dr. pepper and low-sodium soy sauce with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. then sit back and watch my favorite show, then will check the ribs, temp etc. at 1100 when i am mopping.

    tex - thanks for the tip! i will definitely try that next time as it sounds like an easy and effective way to get some extra burn![​IMG]
  10. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    1100 - checked the ribs; things looking good. added a couple of small chunks of hickory and mopped all ribs with my mop. smoker temperature is holding steady right at 250 degrees, which might be a little high but will not be disastrous.

    about the mop, my proportions mentioned above were taxing my math skills when i went to fill the spray bottle, so here's what i did: i used 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 cup of dr. pepper and 2/3 cup of reduced-sodium soy sauce. used a hand blender to emulsify it and put it in a spray bottle for easy application. i will need to blend it every time i mop, but no big deal.

    i am now preparing my finishing glaze; probably a bit early but no big deal. i am using 1/3 cup each of apple cider vinegar, dark brown sugar and yellow mustard. i heated it all in a small saucepan over the stove, stirring on low long enough to blend and dissolve everything, then set aside to cool, covering with saran wrap. i will apply the glaze during the last few minutes of cooking.

    will check again at 1200.
  11. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    1200 - everything looking good; temp might be just a bit high as the meat is pulling away from the bones just a little tiny bit. rotated meat from top to bottom rack and bottom to top, also turned over and sprayed mop on both sides of all racks of ribs.

    the ribs are pictured below after turning and rotating. the dark areas are from the drippings that fell from above (from the ribs now on the bottom rack). it also looks like the corver of one rack might have been in a hotter area than the rest.


    i also added appx. 1 qt of water as the level had gone down to almost nothing in the water pan. with the open lid, added water etc., the temp in the smoker went down quite a bit, so i also stirred the coals around. i added a chunk of wet hickory, which may or may not have been necessary. this should raise the temperatures back up where they should be, as i observed plenty of burning coals. i don't think i will need to light/add any charcoal, but will keep an eye on the situation.

    will check at 1300, including internal temperature of ribs so i can start keeping track of when they might be getting done. i plan to smoke until they reach a temperature of 172 degrees; one point of confusion is whether i should hold that temperature range for a while or simply take them off when they reach that point. i will judge this by observing how they look, feel etc. when the time comes, i guess. will also brush on finishing glaze a few minutes before i actually pull them off.
  12. teleburst

    teleburst Meat Mopper

    I've never had any problem getting the coals to light, but I rarely wait until they are completely grey. I've never had a creosote problem (but I'm a newbie, so it's not like I have years and years of experience).

    I don't even wait until the top briquettes are completely lit. I usually just dump it all after about 15 minutes. This usually gets a little flame working on the pile and I add some chips aong the edges of the pile, and they soon ignite. I've never noticed any problem with smell (except for hickory, of course) or anything. Of course, I usually put some lump charcoal in there as well. But the briquettes are never burned down the way that books tell you to do it. Right now I'm using Kingsford briquettes and Royal Oak lump charcoal.

    One side benefit of doing this is that I don't end up burning all of the coals away. I usually have some partially burned coals left over. I just put them to the side and I'm able to add them to my next fire when I need to add more coal to the fire (I just leave them in the bottom of the Weber piled up on the side). Since they are partially partially burned already, I don't have to preburn them, so I save a step (plus I don't really waste any). Basically, when I'm finished, I close the vents and choke out the fire.

    If you want to see the results, go to the thread I created today called "One pot...I mean kettle one pot meal for under $5". There are some camera phone pics of the results.
  13. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    1300 - turned ribs over and sprayed a little mop on them - temp in smoker read just under 250 degrees (maybe 246); added no hickory.

    when i was turning them, they really seemed like they were getting close to getting done. some meat fell off of one rack and the ends of the ribs are getting exposed pretty well. went to check temperature, but the battery in digital thermometer was dead. running up to get one now....

    if temp shows that they are at 172, i will brush on the finishing glaze and wait 15 minutes or so, them plate them up, photograph them and pig out. as for a side dish, nothing fancy, just some good ol' pork-n-beabs today.

    tleburst - will definitely check out your post as lighting and maintaining of charcoal is an area that i continue to need to work on a bit. i'd like to try royal oak, but it seems to be unavailable up here. i usually use kingsford "charwood" lump, which seems to work well, but the pieces seem either too big or too small. i used briquettes this time and temps are consistent, which i like, but the lump smells better. i have my doubts as to whether the smell of the charcoal has much to do with the final taste of the meat, because i had some very nasty-smelling briquettes once (wal-mart brand) but the chicken i was cooking came out fine.

    will check soon and see!
  14. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    at 1330, the internal temperature of the ribs was 171 degrees. i'll brush the finishing glaze on both sides of all racks, then wait 15-30 minutes and pull those babies off. looking forward to trying them!

    will post results etc. with a q-view of the final product![​IMG]
  15. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    1345 - glaze is on and the last of the coals are stirred. i will say one thng for brituettes, i am able to keep a much-more consistent temperature with them, right around or just under 250 degrees throughout the cooking process of these ribs.

    i will pull the ribs off in about 30 minutes and plate them up!
  16. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    pulled these ribs off right at 1400. here is how the top rack looked:


    and here's the bottom:


    on the plate, they looked excellent, i must say:


    i believe that the darkness comes mostly from the soy sauce in the mop, as well as the carmelization of the glaze.

    pros: great looks, outstanding flavor and very juicy. the fact that i used briquettes did not adversely affect the taste and i had no problems with temperature control. this might also be because for the first time i was able to use a round grill grate that i found in the trash up the street to set my charcoal on in the charcoal pan. this allowed a couple inches of space for air flow, which probably made a big difference. i will experiment more with this using lump charcoal when i am able. smoke ring was right up to but not quite through the center, and there was a great balance between sweet, tangy, smokey and salty flavors. i believe that the use of slightly-less rub and reduced-sodium soy sauce was a very good idea, as it kept the salt from overpowering everything. the flavors all blended well so that you could taste them all, but no one flavor could really be picked out. the finishing glaze was excellent and imparted a deep red color and crusty texture, just as advertised. i really have to thank danny gaulden of the BBQFAQ, wherever he may be, for bringing that glaze (and many elements of rib-cooking methods) to my attention.

    cons: the thicker ones (started out on top rack, finished up on bottom rack) were not quite done; conversely, the thinner ones, which ended up the top rack, were a bit overdone. tenderness suffered on all levels because of this. in retrospect, i should have left them where they were at the beginning. i forgot that the top is usually of a hgher temperature and that had i left the thicker ones there, everything probably would have been done at the same time.

    because of this, these ribs weren't quite in the "bacon-on-a-stick" class that my first ribs were, but the other improvements showed real promise. i believe that the many elements are coming together well and my main task is now to learn to cook them evenly until they are done, using my smoker to it's full potential to do so. one way, as mentioned above, is to keep the thicker ones on top; i imagine another way might be to take ribs off as they finish and keep them in a foil-covered pan in the oven on lowest setting until the thicker ones are done. if i do this, the challenge would be to keep them moist, perhaps with a very small amount of water or club soda in the pan to provide steam?

    all-in-all, i count these as a major success as i was able to recognize and come up with possible solutions to the one "con" that i had with this smoke; everything else indicates major improvements and continuing evolution on my rib method....oh yeah, they tasted GREAT, too!

    as always i welcome and would appreciate any feedback and/or suggestions. thanks!
  17. moltenone

    moltenone Smoking Fanatic

    looks to me like you did an excellent job TasunkaWitko.

  18. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    thanks, guys - i think i am getting the hang of this thing; i guess i got a little rebel blood in me after all ~ [​IMG]
  19. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Man... EXCELLENT job, Sir! Well done!
  20. reddog

    reddog Fire Starter


    I use Maple for heat. Apple will be very good with you pork.



    P.S. Cherry works good too so does Pear.

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