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Newbie questions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I'm looking to smoke my first rack or two of ribs in a couple of weeks.  I've been scouring the forums and the internet and have found some information, but I'm hoping some of y'all can help me out a little, as I still have several questions.

 

I'm planning to go with the 3-2-1 method, as I have loin back ribs.  I have a Brinkmann Electric Smoke N' Grill.

 

1) Should I only put wood on during the first and third stages, and then for the second stage, just have (primarily, as I don't plan on cleaning out the smoker in between) the lava rocks providing all of the heat?

 

2) How many wood chunks are ideal?  I don't know what size(s) I have out back right now - sometimes have to use 5-6 if I have small chunks

 

3) With the Brinkmann Electric, do I need to soak the wood chunks in advance?  Most of the info I've seen online says don't soak the wood at all...but I thought I'd seen somewhere that the Brinkmann ALWAYS needs the wood soaked to reduce the possibility of flare-ups and such.

 

4) For stage 2 - I've got a pretty good list of the typical "ingredients" to choose from.  But what I don't yet have is an idea of how to determine the ratios of the various types of ingredients.  Is that basically just "dependent on personal taste"?  I'm not anywhere close to a trained chef, so I would almost be just mixing things up and tasting as I go

 

5) Also for stage 2 - are there any particular categories of ingredients that tend to go well together, or again, is the combination of ingredients just according to personal taste? Any particular combinations of initial dry rub and stage 2 mixture that go well together or that should be avoided (if needed I can share what I think my dry rub is going to be - just wondering how to select a stage 2 mixture to complement the initial dry rub, whatever it may be.

 

6) Lastly, for stage 2 again - are there any ingredients that are "necessary" for stage 2?  For example, must one ALWAYS include a liquid in the mixture?

 

I think I'm going to try smoking the ribs over apple wood, maybe with some black walnut thrown in. 

 

Thanks,

 

David McWaters


Edited by AZTiger98 - 1/6/15 at 11:10pm
post #2 of 9
Quote:

Originally Posted by AZTiger98 View Post

 

I will take a whack here... I do not have your specific smoker, I have an electric smokinit #3 and some wood and charcoal smokers. I used to do the 3-2-1 method for my baby backs. Now i just season them, toss them in and go until they are done.
 

I'm looking to smoke my first rack or two of ribs in a couple of weeks.  I've been scouring the forums and the internet and have found some information, but I'm hoping some of y'all can help me out a little, as I still have several questions.

 

I'm planning to go with the 3-2-1 method, as I have loin back ribs.  I have a Brinkmann Electric Smoke N' Grill.

 

1) Should I only put wood on during the first and third stages, and then for the second stage, just have (primarily, as I don't plan on cleaning out the smoker in between) the lava rocks providing all of the heat?

 

This question really has the same answer as #2 - going by number of chunks is not a good way to get consistent results. Instead, weigh the wood. I use 5oz of a fruit wood (like Cherry or Apple) for my baby backs. I would use 3oz of a more robust wood like Hickory or Mesquite. I add the wood and that is all I do, I do not take it out once it is going. This will give you a fairly light smoke profile and is a good place to start.

 

2) How many wood chunks are ideal?  I don't know what size(s) I have out back right now - sometimes have to use 5-6 if I have small chunks

 

See above

 

3) With the Brinkmann Electric, do I need to soak the wood chunks in advance?  Most of the info I've seen online says don't soak the wood at all...but I thought I'd seen somewhere that the Brinkmann ALWAYS needs the wood soaked to reduce the possibility of flare-ups and such.

 

Soaking is kind of bull. I never soak the wood. soaking only provides a very short window of any moisture at all, hardwoods do not soak up water - that is why they build boats with it.

 

4) For stage 2 - I've got a pretty good list of the typical "ingredients" to choose from.  But what I don't yet have is an idea of how to determine the ratios of the various types of ingredients.  Is that basically just "dependent on personal taste"?  I'm not anywhere close to a trained chef, so I would almost be just mixing things up and tasting as I go

 

By stage two I assume you are talking about the foil stage. When I did this I used Brown sugar and about a 1/4 cup of Dr Pepper or Cherry cola along with some honey. Yes, you really can use whatever you want, just do not drown the ribs.

 

5) Also for stage 2 - are there any particular categories of ingredients that tend to go well together, or again, is the combination of ingredients just according to personal taste? Any particular combinations of initial dry rub and stage 2 mixture that go well together or that should be avoided (if needed I can share what I think my dry rub is going to be - just wondering how to select a stage 2 mixture to complement the initial dry rub, whatever it may be.

 

The only red flag other than not too much liquid is do not use anything overly harsh

 

6) Lastly, for stage 2 again - are there any ingredients that are "necessary" for stage 2?  For example, must one ALWAYS include a liquid in the mixture?

 

I pretty much always added a liquid, the idea of thew foil crutch is to speed cooking time and help with tenderness. to do that effectively you really need steam, so a liquid is used.

 

I think I'm going to try smoking the ribs over apple wood, maybe with some black walnut thrown in. 

 

Thanks,

 

David McWaters

 

Aside from this forum, this website is one of the BEST resources out there;

 

http://amazingribs.com/

 

​Let us know how it goes and short of actual samples of BBQ, pictures are greatly appreciated!

 

Rob

post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZTiger98 View Post
 

I'm looking to smoke my first rack or two of ribs in a couple of weeks.  I've been scouring the forums and the internet and have found some information, but I'm hoping some of y'all can help me out a little, as I still have several questions.

 

I'm planning to go with the 3-2-1 method, as I have loin back ribs.   3-2-1 is a good way to start.  I have a Brinkmann Electric Smoke N' Grill.

 

1) Should I only put wood on during the first and third stages, and then for the second stage, just have (primarily, as I don't plan on cleaning out the smoker in between) the lava rocks providing all of the heat?  The smoke won't penetrate the foil - so it is optional - won't hurt, but not really needed either.

 

2) How many wood chunks are ideal?  I don't know what size(s) I have out back right now - sometimes have to use 5-6 if I have small chunks see Rob's weight suggestions above.

 

3) With the Brinkmann Electric, do I need to soak the wood chunks in advance?  Most of the info I've seen online says don't soak the wood at all...but I thought I'd seen somewhere that the Brinkmann ALWAYS needs the wood soaked to reduce the possibility of flare-ups and such.  I agree wiht Rob

 

4) For stage 2 - I've got a pretty good list of the typical "ingredients" to choose from.  But what I don't yet have is an idea of how to determine the ratios of the various types of ingredients.  Is that basically just "dependent on personal taste"?  I'm not anywhere close to a trained chef, so I would almost be just mixing things up and tasting as I go

 

5) Also for stage 2 - are there any particular categories of ingredients that tend to go well together, or again, is the combination of ingredients just according to personal taste? Any particular combinations of initial dry rub and stage 2 mixture that go well together or that should be avoided (if needed I can share what I think my dry rub is going to be - just wondering how to select a stage 2 mixture to complement the initial dry rub, whatever it may be.

 

6) Lastly, for stage 2 again - are there any ingredients that are "necessary" for stage 2?  For example, must one ALWAYS include a liquid in the mixture?

 

I recommend keeping it simple for the first go-round.  You need some sort of liquid - that is what moistens the meat in the foil stage.  All else is extra.  I just use a splash (1/4 - 1/2 cup) apple juice in my foil.  Put the ribs in bone side down so the meat is not sitting in the juice.  I highly recommend double wrapping as the bones can tear through a single layer of foil.  Each rack should be foiled separately.  If you are using apple wood, apple juice will reinforce that flavor.

 

I think I'm going to try smoking the ribs over apple wood, maybe with some black walnut thrown in. Apple wood is great for ribs (any kind of fruit wood goes well with pork).  I have not tried black walnut - but it could add an interesting taste.

 

Good luck - have fun and post photos.

 

Thanks,

 

David McWaters

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZTiger98 View Post
 

I'm looking to smoke my first rack or two of ribs in a couple of weeks.  I've been scouring the forums and the internet and have found some information, but I'm hoping some of y'all can help me out a little, as I still have several questions.

 

I'm planning to go with the 3-2-1 method, as I have loin back ribs.  I have a Brinkmann Electric Smoke N' Grill.

 

1) Should I only put wood on during the first and third stages, and then for the second stage, just have (primarily, as I don't plan on cleaning out the smoker in between) the lava rocks providing all of the heat?

 

By the final stage I don't think the ribs will absorb much more smoke flavor so it probably isn't necessary. When I do the 3-2-1 method I only add wood for the first three hours (and really I only keep it going string for the first two then let it burn out).

 

2) How many wood chunks are ideal?  I don't know what size(s) I have out back right now - sometimes have to use 5-6 if I have small chunks

 

On my brinkman I usually would add three to five chunks depending on size then add two more at a time if the smoke started running out. It depends on the size and types of wood chunks you have.

 

3) With the Brinkmann Electric, do I need to soak the wood chunks in advance?  Most of the info I've seen online says don't soak the wood at all...but I thought I'd seen somewhere that the Brinkmann ALWAYS needs the wood soaked to reduce the possibility of flare-ups and such.

 

I always soak for my Brinkman and they still end up catching fire (but I still soak them to extend the smolder time). The wood sits so close to the heating element it is hard to keep it from burning.

 

4) For stage 2 - I've got a pretty good list of the typical "ingredients" to choose from.  But what I don't yet have is an idea of how to determine the ratios of the various types of ingredients.  Is that basically just "dependent on personal taste"?  I'm not anywhere close to a trained chef, so I would almost be just mixing things up and tasting as I go

 

I am no chef either. I use apple juice for this stage. It doesn't change the flavor very much but it keeps them super moist.

 

5) Also for stage 2 - are there any particular categories of ingredients that tend to go well together, or again, is the combination of ingredients just according to personal taste? Any particular combinations of initial dry rub and stage 2 mixture that go well together or that should be avoided (if needed I can share what I think my dry rub is going to be - just wondering how to select a stage 2 mixture to complement the initial dry rub, whatever it may be.

 

IMO this stage is not about adding a lot of flavor but more about getting the ribs tender and moist. You should add a liquid that complements the dry rub but keep it simple.

 

6) Lastly, for stage 2 again - are there any ingredients that are "necessary" for stage 2?  For example, must one ALWAYS include a liquid in the mixture?

 

I say yes. You need the liquid to help keep things moving in the right direction.

 

I think I'm going to try smoking the ribs over apple wood, maybe with some black walnut thrown in. 

 

Thanks,

 

David McWaters

 

 

These of course are my opinions based on what my family likes to eat. I am sure there are a million ways to cook ribs so it is up to you.

post #5 of 9

One other thought, if you pay attention to temps and check the meat itself time to time you are most likely going to have a darn good dinner. just remember to relax and enjoy the process - it really is half the fun!

post #6 of 9

There are lots of ways to do ribs. Loin ribs are usually pretty hefty. I have had them take an extra hour before once when I got some really meaty ones. Never seen any like that since. 3-2-1 is a general rule and a good place to start. I always use apple juice in the foiling stage. Once you foil you don't need the smoke. If you foil that is. I wouldn't foil and just go the straight 6 hours with smoke the whole time. If you are putting out thin blue smoke the whole time your ribs will not be over smoked unless you use a very strong wood the whole time like Hickory or Mesquite. I swear by apple and cherry myself but it is pure personal preference as to what wood you use. Lots of people love pecan. I have no access to pecan up here in Washington. Never soak your wood. If you have a flare up look for the cause and correct it. Good smoke and temperature control are what it is all about.  There are literally hundreds of rub recipes on this site or you can try a store bought one if you wish. I really like jeff's rub and totally swear by it. Get yourself a good reliable thermometer to monitor your smoker temperature. Do not trust the one that came with it. If you have any more questions fire away. 

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Well, the first rack I ever smoked is in the books.  Didn't turn out too bad, and I at least know some areas to fix.

 

I used the apple wood from Wal Mart - per suggestions, I weighed out 3 sets of 5-6 oz of the wood (the Smoke-n-grill needs wood replaced after about 1.5 hours or so, so I couldn't get through stage one of the ribs without putting wood in at least once.  I did soak it, but only for the 20 mins that the smoker manual told me to.

 

Used a rub recipe I found in a grilling cookbook - however, I didn't realize that we were out of paprika.  To substitute for that, I put in some Northwest Fire Seasoning from Penzey's and left out the chipotle pepper the recipe called for (since the Northwest Fire has both paprika AND chipotle in it).  Also had some ground ancho chile pepper, black pepper, brown sugar, and salt.  For the foil mixture, I decided on honey,Thai sweet chili sauce, and apple cider vinegar.

 

Problems I noticed from my first attempt to correct next time.  1) I used way too much rub.  I'd seen a suggestion somewhere that I should put rub on before the ribs went on the grill, and then again before the ribs went on for the last hour.  I used a full recipe both times - thinking I should've maybe done a half recipe or 3/4 recipe both times, or else not even done the rub before the last hour on the smoker, because it came out rather salty...and was quite spicy - which I like spicy, but my wife's not crazy about extra-spicy food.  2)  I forgot to check and refill the water pan - and I think that caused the ribs to dry out a little - but overall, not much.  Nomally, filling the water pan is something I only have to do once, but apparently with ribs, it gets empty faster. 

 

 

No, I didn't have the cookie sheet on the grill - only thing I had big enough to carry the ribs back in to the house.  The rack was so fall-off-the-bone that it split in half when I put it on the pan.  Had to use two grill spatuals to move the rack, b/c the grill tongs weren't enough to keep it from bending and tearing.

post #8 of 9

Looks really good for your first time. I get at least 4 racks per recipe amount of Jeff's. DON'T SOAK YOUR WOOD! Happy smokin' timber.

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZTiger98 View Post
 

2)  I forgot to check and refill the water pan - and I think that caused the ribs to dry out a little - but overall, not much.  Nomally, filling the water pan is something I only have to do once, but apparently with ribs, it gets empty faster. 

 

You will get a lot of varying answers on the water pan. It seems that most people don't believe it helps moisten the meat. I stopped using mine recently and haven't noticed a difference.

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