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Smoking Ribs in Rwanda

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I've been living in Rwanda for about a year now and recently decided I had to get back to smoking meat. In the US, I used to fire up my Weber Smokey Mountain almost every weekend with dependable results. Since I couldn't bring the Weber out here with me, I've worked with some welders to put together a horizontal smoker out of an old water heater. It only has one chamber and the smoke doesn't always pull perfectly, but I just put the charcoal on the far end I don't find the the pieces closer to the charcoal cook much faster than the others. Unfortunately, after 4 attempts at smoking ribs here, I can't quite get them right. 


Ribs aren't very popular out here, so it's tough to find a butcher who really knows what he's doing. Most of the time, they pull out the full rib frozen and then I ask them to cut just the baby back for me. The ribs are often very meaty with a .25 to .5 inch thick layer of fat coating the top. I let the ribs thaw and then get started, keeping the smoker between 225 and 240 with some hickory wood chips. However, the ribs just seem to take forever to cook. Last night I had three racks on for 7 hours and they weren't even close to being done. The meat was almost undercooked and I was far off the actual finishing point of pulling the bones apart easily. 


Any idea what could be going on? I have a remote thermometer that is wedged in the door which might be reading too high of a temperature. I'm also concerned that the meat has been poorly frozen, thus drying it out. Any insight into what I could be doing wrong would be greatly appreciated.



post #2 of 6
I'd test your therm in boiling water and ice water to make sure that it accurate. Then I'd try and get it as close to the same level as where you are cooking your food. Make sure that the tip of the therm isn't touching the metal of the smoker. Running a pit at 225-250 you should have baby back ribs done in 4-6 hours. Any pics of your smoker? Seeing it may help us determine what's happening.
post #3 of 6

I totally agree with what Case said above. You are running the smoker to cold. Test your thermometer and git it as close to the meat as possible. I see this is your first post. When you get a chance will you drop by roll call so everyone can give you a proper SMF welcome?

Happy smoken.


post #4 of 6

Pics would be good, Temp gauge is not accurate



post #5 of 6

Since you are smoking with what you can get, might I suggest if its the ribs you want, you smoke 'em for 3 to 4 hours then take them to the oven to finish. You'll have that smokey flavor cooked to perfection.


Always remember when there is a problem with the smoker, an oven can complete a smoke.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


Thanks for the help! I tested the thermometer and it's pretty accurate. My problem may have been holding the thermometer well above the meat so it's reading a higher temperature. Also great point on finishing it in the oven. I love to avoid it, but it does get the job done. 


Any thoughts on the meat being poorly frozen or bad quality? Can this affect cook time? 


Also attached some photos. Let me know what you think of the design. 



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