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When to sauce ribs? (When the typical cook-time isn't enough.)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

I'm smoking baby-backs for the first time this Saturday. In the past, I've had trouble when smoking spares because I tend to put the sauce on at the wrong time. For example, if I'm doing 3-2-1, I'll put on sauce in the last 45m - 1hr. However, the times I've done this, the ribs just haven't been ready and have needed a couple more hours, and the sauce ends up burning.

In the few times I've smoked I've learned the meat is ready when it's ready, and not to live by set numbers.

So, with this in mind, what indicators can I look for in ribs (both baby-back & spares) to know when I should begin saucing? I know when to take them off based on the pull-back, bend, etc...just not when to begin saucing, as I don't know when there'll only be one more hour left.

Thanks!

Kyle

 

post #2 of 12

I've come to not saucing any of my meat while on the smoker.

 

I use a good rub (either Jeff's or my own), and complete the smoke. 

 

I let the eater decide how much and which sauce they want to add.

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talan64 View Post
 

I've come to not saucing any of my meat while on the smoker.

 

I use a good rub (either Jeff's or my own), and complete the smoke. 

 

I let the eater decide how much and which sauce they want to add.



Do you find a difference in saucing after or before?

I'm looking for a carmelization. I find my bark is sometimes a tad soggy. I'm not sure if that's due to poor timing on saucing; too much rub; or the brown sugar, honey, & apple juice added during the foiling process.

Cheers, Talan.

 

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by kargov View Post
 

Interesting.



Do you find a difference in saucing after or before?

I'm looking for a carmelization. I find my bark is sometimes a tad soggy. I'm not sure if that's due to poor timing on saucing; too much rub; or the brown sugar, honey, & apple juice added during the foiling process.

Cheers, Talan.

 

 

If you are foiling that is why you are getting soggy bark.

 

You can sauce in the last 20 minutes or so and get carmelization.  I usually do 2 light layers of sauce one about 30 mins from done and one about 10 mins from done.

 

Also, stop depending on time to tell you when your meat is near done.  Let the meat tell you when its near done.


Edited by Yotzee - 6/10/14 at 11:46am
post #5 of 12
I always sauce after the 2hr foiling and back in the smoker another hour. Maybe monitor the temps and start adding at a specific temp.
post #6 of 12

I have always used the 3-2-1 method and never had burned ribs nor have they needed more time to cook.  What are your temps you are smoking at?

 

I do my ribs about 225-250.  Smoke for three hours, wrap for two with butter, brown sugar, and honey, and then unwrap for the last hour with a light sauce on them.  Perfect every time.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your help!

One last question. Rather than filling the water-pan, I'm going to be using foiled pea gravel as my thermal mass with only about a cup of water on top. Anything to keep in mind doing this with 2-2-1?


Quote:
Originally Posted by brandon91 View Post

I always sauce after the 2hr foiling and back in the smoker another hour. Maybe monitor the temps and start adding at a specific temp.


I thought it was difficult to measure temps on ribs given the little amount of meat – or am I mistaken? I suppose there's no visual indication, then. And thanks!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ps0303 View Post
 

I have always used the 3-2-1 method and never had burned ribs nor have they needed more time to cook.  What are your temps you are smoking at?

 

I do my ribs about 225-250.  Smoke for three hours, wrap for two with butter, brown sugar, and honey, and then unwrap for the last hour with a light sauce on them.  Perfect every time.

 

Thanks! I was having temperature issues the last time I smoked ribs (started at 275, ended at around 200 so I had to throw in the oven to finish 'em.) However, I know what issues caused that and it won't happen again for this smoke. I'll try 225-250 @ 2-2-1 for Baby Back & try a light sauce for the last hour, as you've advised.

Cheers.

post #8 of 12

Hi Kargov,

 

When I'm saucing (I don't usually, but sometimes I do), I let the ribs get about 99% done before mopping on the sauce.  I agree that it's challenging to get accurate internal temps (IT's) in ribs because of all the bones, but it's not really necessary anyway.  The easiest way I've found to test for doneness is by checking the pullback from the bone, and the "bend test".  Pullback:  the meat "shrinkage" will expose about a half inch to and inch of bone on the side of the rack.  Bend test:  with tongs, pick up a rack from one end...if the rack bends to at least a 45* angle in the middle, and if the meat on the top cracks a little as it bends, they are very close to done.  Whether foiling with the 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 method, or just letting them ride the whole way "naked",  this is the point where I would sauce...they really only need about 20-30 minutes for the sauce to carmelize nicely.

 

Red

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks! My understanding was that they were done at that point – but if that's the point I can mop on the sauce...sounds good!

 

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by kargov View Post
 

Thanks! My understanding was that they were done at that point – but if that's the point I can mop on the sauce...sounds good!

 

 

I did a rack yesterday with no foiling.  As Red said I waited until the bend test told me they were about done than lathered on a layer of sauce, 10 mins layer a second layer and 10 mins later off.  The sauce was perfect.

 

Another key is don't OVER sauce.  Commercial sauces are full of sugars and high fructose corn syrup.  A little goes along way.   I barely use them anymore.

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Sounds good! Gonna make my own sauce, but I'll try the two thin layers on all but one, and one thicker layer on the one to see the difference.

Oh, and do you just sauce the tops or go fully around?

Thanks guys! :)
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by kargov View Post

Sounds good! Gonna make my own sauce, but I'll try the two thin layers on all but one, and one thicker layer on the one to see the difference.

Oh, and do you just sauce the tops or go fully around?

Thanks guys! :)


I sauce the tops and a little around the sides. I use nice thin coats that just spread over the meat and bones. I usually do 2 coats.

After about a year of doing everything from trying different homemade cooked sauces from scratch to playing with variations of altering commercial sauces (mostly Sweet Baby Rays) I think what we like best is the homemade Carolina style sauce I originally used for my pulled pork. Its a ketchup & apple cider vinegar base with yellow mustard, my rub, pepper flake and molasses. I add a little extra molasses to get it just a bit thicker and a little cayenne to give it that sweet heat. It spreads on nice and thickens just enough to give a sticky sauce that isn't all gooped on. Its just enough to not mask the pork flavor, and the vinegar accentuates the meat nicely.
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