Newbie here. I have been smoking ribs for about 4 months. Pork Spare ribs and Baby Back Ribs. I don't mean every weekend. I mean 1 to 2 racks of ribs 2 to 4 times a week ,every week for my wife and I or family/friends.
Anyways, I've hit a roadblock and I need some serious help or my wife is instructing me to give up. The more I look at it, I think there hasn't been something right from the beginning. I'll summarize it below. Any help is so appreciated, she may send you a Valentines day card.
Meat - 2.5 to 3.5 pound slabs of pork spare ribs or baby back ribs.
1 - I have a Brinkmann Trailmaster Smoker. I have used a oven thermometer to guage the "real" temperature during the cook. The smoker therm may say "300", but the real temp at the rib level is 250.
2 - I use fresh pecan wood the first 1 hour of the smoke and then charcoal the rest. I tried using pecan for more than an hour and the smoke overpowers the ribs so based on feedback, one hour of heavy smoke does the work.
3 - I usually cook at a temperature between 210 and 275. The average would be 250. That's based on the 50 degree difference between the smoker therm and the "real therm". So if my smoker therm says 300, I know it's 250. I double check that with the oven thermometer to make sure that stays consistent.
4 - I always cook one pork spare rib and one baby back rib. Bought fresh. I mix it up and put a rub on one and not a rub on the other.
5 - I smoke it for 1 hour in pecan wood
6 - For the rest of the cook (Ill get into that below), I use charcoal from the Chimney Starter. I keep the temperature within that 210-275 range although it may dip up to 300/325 for 10-15 minutes before settling down.
7 - After 3 total hours of cooking (1 in smoke and 2 without), I wrap one in foil with applejuice and a few tablespoons of butter and the other I don't wrap. Usually the baby backs are the ones I wrap but I vary it. I like to see the differnce between the two when it's all done and the taste pattern is much different for some reason. I've experiemented with peach pie filling (turned out very well) also.
8 - I cook for another 2 hours in the foil and then unwrap. We are now at 5 total hours. At this point, the ribs coming out of the foil are starting to pull away from the bone, usually on the ends. The ribs that were not wrapped are very slightly pulled back. The bend test here would not result in the appropriate bend on either rib.
9 - This is the kicker: What I have found is that my ribs do not pass the "bend test" until they are cooked for another 1 to 3 hours. I won't put any sauce on them until I get a feel for their doneness using the bend test and that means a nice burgandy color when they come off the smoker without any of the black untasty carmelization.
10 - That is a total of 6 to 10 hours. The average being almost 8. However, those ribs are SUPER good, some of the time there is a nice smoke ring but most of the time there isn't a smoke ring but rather the ribs are nice and red from top to bottom with a thin strand of gray in the meat. Not the best looking but very tasty. The ones that were in foil are close to "fall of the bone" usually and the ones not wrapped are easy to bite off the bone. You could eat them with just a few front teeth left. If I wanted them a bit less cooked, I would pull them off sooner for those who like to bite it off hard core. Everyone loves these ribs...even my wife thinks they are good. They are a bit fatty in spots but overall good.
11 - I have experimented with eating the ribs at different times after the 5 hour cook mark to guage the taste and texture no matter what the bend test says. They are literally the best when they are in the 8 to 10 hour range but I'm finding this difficult to understand.
Why does it take so long???
12 - However, it's a 50/50 shot as to whether the ribs are fatty. I mean, fatty enough that I don't even want to eat them. The longer they cook, the less fat they have, but after 8 to 10 hours, I'm done cooking them and it's getting tiring.
13 - The real kicker came last night: I did the same thing as above and out of 2 slabs, my wife and I could only eat 7 of them. That was 6.5 hours of cooking in the recommended range. Same size ribs. They had a beautiful smoke ring. Cut so easily. Not fall off the bone. But fatty as HELL. The dogs ate the rest. They loved it of course but now I'm tired of it. I dont' know what I'm doing wrong.
14 - The best ribs I have ever make were cooked in foil with coke in an oven at 375 for two hours and then put over hot coals for an hour while flipping them. Those were truly the best but I refuse to give up...until now.
Can anyone help this country boy? I am so truly trying to get this right but when I don't even want to eat them, I have no idea what to do. Is it me? Is it the cut of the meat? Is it me? I hate it when I buy ribs from the Rib Shack in town and he uses a rotisserie for one hour with pecan smoke and his are the best I've ever had, smoke ring and all.
Thank you for any help. I've tried to give you all the info I have.