Originally Posted by Chef JimmyJ
The enclosure is really nice. You said the Ribs were over cooked...What temp are you using? What technique, 3-2-1, or other? If you foil are you putting any liquid in? How long have you been cooking them? We can fix this...JJ
So here’s a little background information before I answer your questions. Over the last week, I made a few adjustments and modifications to my smoker to help improve its performance. The 2 main issues I have been dealing with was sustaining temperatures at, or above 225 degrees. And having the wood chips and chunks catching on fire when turning up the heat to attain temps above 225 degrees. After reading many posts from this forum, I saw that many of these issues were due to the water pan blocking the flow of heat to the top portion of the cooker, and the wood box possibly being a tad too close to the flame. I also live fairly close to the beach, so we get a lot of wind, which I think was affecting the gas burner by blowing the flame around. Which in turn created more of a yellowish orange flame, rather than blue. I think this to was contributing to my heat issues.
With that said, the three things that I changed, was first adding the 3 sided encloser as you can see in the picture to help with blocking the wind and blowing the burner flame around. This allowed for a more efficient blue flame. Two, I replaced the stock water pan with a 10 ½” x 12 ¾” x 2 ½” half size steam pan. This allowed roughly 2 inches of space, both in front and in back of the pan, to allow more heat to pass to the top portion of the cooker. It also increased the space on the left and right of the pan by a 1/2 an inch. The half size steam pan is also big enough to cover the opening below the food racks to collect any drippings, and avoid them from hitting the flames on the burner. And third, by using the half steam pan, I was able to place it on the top rung of the food rack holder, raising it by a ½ inch. Thus allowing me to have enough room to place the wood box on the top rung as well, and increase the space between it and the burner.
The combination of all three of these changes allowed me to use a lower more efficient flame, which increased and sustained the higher temp I was looking for. And because I was using a lower flame, and increase the distance between the box and the burner, I get the desired thin blue smoke for a longer duration. I did not get any of the thick white smoke that I would normally see when I first fired up the smoker. Because of these improvements, it already made this cook the best I have had to this point. And none of these ideas were my own, I got them all right here from the fine folks of this forum.
Now to answer the cooking questions. I went in attempting the 3-2-1 method. For the first 2 hours I cooked the 3 racks of ribs bone down, with the temp holding at a consistent 210 degrees. At the 2 hour mark I opened the smoker for the first time and sprayed the ribs with apples juice, and cooked them uncovered with the bones still facing down, for another hour. At this time I also added a few more wood chunks ( I was using a half and half mix of pecan and hickory). During the third hour of the cook, the temp jumped to 230 quickly after shutting the door, and held. At the 3 hour mark, I pulled the ribs and coated them with liquid margarine and brown sugar, front and back, foiled them, and placed them back in the cooker bone side up. Before foiling the ribs I forgot to take the temp, but the meat hadn't really pulled from the bone yet. So I think they were where they needed to be at that point.
Now this is where I did some additional experimenting, and probably was reason the ribs became overcooked. After I placed the foiled ribs back in the smoker, I figured I no longer needed the water pan. So I place a disposable aluminum pan on the bottom empty cooking rack to collect any drippings, and pulled the water pan it to increase the heat. And sure enough it did. The heat rose to 260 degrees and held quite nicely. I then cooked the ribs for an additional 2 hours, never once opening the smoker. When I went to unwrap them for the final hour, I checked the temp of the ribs, and they were up at around 200 degrees. Overdone!
At this point I sauced them, placed them back in the smoker uncovered, and completely shut the heat off. I figured the sauce would set up as the smoker cooled down. I finally pulled at the 5 hour and 15 minute mark.
So I think if I pulled the ribs at the 4 to 4 ½ hour mark, they would have been perfect. During the first 2 hours of the cook, I was a little hesitant in turning up the heat in fear that I might ignite the wood. So since the heat was above 200, I let it be.
I apologize for the long winded explanation, but I figured more information was better then not. Plus it solidifies some of the ideas and suggestions that have been made for this particular smoker.