As per the title, I'm always in search of perfection with ribs. I do pretty good most of the time. But... sometimes, not so much...
Background... Currently have a GOSM gas and a Weber 22 kettle with the 3-vane lower vent.
Last week I started a slab in the gas smoker, but after half an hour in the north wind and 30-40 temps, I was having too much trouble controlling temp/smoke so decided to give the kettle a try. Set up indirect, royal oak lump, some apple chips and hickory chunks. Digital therm probe an inch above food grate level. Worked on keeping temps right at 225, but it stayed more like 230-250. About 3 hours in the smoke, with apple juice spray after 1 1/2 hours and every half hour after that. Then foil with my foiling sauce and another 1 1/2 hours at 225 in the oven.
Texture and tenderness was perfect. I would have won a competition with those. Perfect bark and smoke ring, bones could just about be pulled out but the meat still had a decent chew and didn't fall apart. But I had tried new rub, foiling sauce, and BBQ sauce recipes and overall it was too pepper-hot.
So I modified my recipes and tried it again a couple of days ago. This time, I did them in the kettle from the start. I had some trouble getting temps high enough; I was staying at around 195-210 most of the time. Smoked for a little over 2 hours. It was snowing and blowing from the north, and I was losing the kettle temps. I pulled the ribs to foil them and knew they were going to be tough. The outside was dry-looking and not glistening from fat rendering. I've seen this before and it seems that once that happens, the ribs get tough. If I get that glisten on the surface, I know they're gonna be tender. Sure enough, after foiling for a few hours, they were tough and dry inside. GREAT flavor, bark, and smoke ring, but tough. An additional foiling of the leftovers the next day for a little over an hour did tender them up a bit, but still not what I'd consider acceptable. Sure tasted good though. :-)
I'm trying to figure out what causes this. My theory is that the cook temp is too low and the time is not long enough. But I'm turning to the gurus to see if I'm on the right track or if there's something else I"m doing wrong.