Originally Posted by smokergal2
FYI, I live in Dallas and it seems like it is never cool here and it is usually humid too. Yes, I had water in the pan, soaked my chips and had the vent half open, so per all of the suggestions I have received, I will omit soaking and use only a little water in the pan and open up the vent. If it is a dry type of meat, I will try injecting or spritzing. I made country ribs and they turned out very tough. Too long? Too high a temp? Who knows? Could not find a good recipe for this type of rib, which really not a true rib cut anyway. (Got that from someone's video!) If anybody has had success with these meaty guys using an electric smoker, please tell me how you did it!
I learned not to use wood chips in my MES 30 Gen 1. I only use wood pellets inside the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker. When I was using wood chips, I quickly learned there's no need to soak them, and my MES owners manual never said to soak them. As for the water pan, I followed the advice of others and stopped using water altogether. I filled the water pan with clean playground sand and then foiled over the pan a few times, then started leaving the water pan empty and foiled over. I saw no difference in how it affected interior heat so I leave the water pan empty all the time. The foil serves to protect the inside of the pan from drippings.
I think you should hold off on the injecting and spritzing until you get the basics down. What are the basics? Smoking a pork butt (aka pork shoulder) roast--the same cut the country ribs come from) or a beef brisket. Heck, try smoking some baby back ribs. For the roast and brisket, your goal is to cook it to a specific internal temperature (IT), which is where a really good thermometer with at least one probe comes in. A good internal temp for both meats is 190-205 degrees. The cooking temperature--or set point--is a matter of personal preference. Most people set it at 215-250 degrees. How long to smoke the meat? Until the therm shows the IT is where you want it. Depending on the weight and size of the cut, this is typically 6-12 hours.
Your country ribs came out tough because they were undercooked. Pork shoulders and briskets have lots of fat. You want to trim the hard fat but leave enough of the soft fat so that it will render when cooking. This rendered fat is what turns the meat moist, tender, and juicy, even if the exterior is black and crusty (also called "bark"). But the "secret" to producing great "Q" is in the rubs and sauces you use, whether store bought or homemade. There are tons of recipes out there for rubs and sauces. I prefer homemade and I make up a big batch of my favorite rub and keep it in an airtight container in a cool place. My wife typically makes up the sauces but, in a time pinch, my favorite prepared BBQ sauces are anything by Stubbs (Stubbs is gone but he left behind great sauces, marinades, and charcoal) and Guy Fieri's Kansas City BBQ Sauce. I haven't been a Fieri fan in years but I needed some quick and easy sauce for the Kansas City-style baby back ribs I was cooking to accompany my homemade Kansas City-style rub and this worked beautifully. But everyone has their own pet rubs and sauces. The great Aaron Franklin (Austin, TX) only ribs his beef brisket with salt and pepper and smokes it over seasoned post oak. People line up for hours to buy it.
For recipes, I recommend you subscribe to Jeff Phillips' (creator of this site) newsletters; I haven't tried his recipes but I've adopted his 3-2-1 method (with variations) for smoking ribs. His book seems to be good although I haven't bought it. The two books I own are "Smoke & Spice" by Cheryl and Bill Jamison, and "Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Barbecue" by Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe.
There's a lot more to learn about smoking and these groups are great places to learn it all. Hope this helps.
Edited by daRicksta - 10/30/14 at 12:04pm