Well, I did it. My first excursion into the world of gourmet smoked meat. What follows is the report, and some questions.
First, the setup. I used a brand new, but seasoned, Bradley 4-rack digital smoker. The ribs were a nice rack of St. Louis style from Swift Premium. The rub was Jeff’s, along with Jeff’s sauce they were later served with. Temperature control automatic by the controls on the Bradley, but monitored by a Maverick ET-73 dual probe digital thermometer. The plan was for the 3-2-1 program.
I fired up the smoker, set the oven temperature to 230, with the smoker on but without any biscuits on it. While everything was heating up, I got the membrane off the ribs with no problem, coated both sides of the slab with a thin coat of yellow mustard, followed by generous, but not overly thick, coats of rub on both sides. After about a half hour, the temperature of the smoker was up to 230, so I slid a hickory biscuit on to the hotplate, and inserted the ribs, diagonally on a rack, on to the second shelf position up from the bottom. Water in the pan. I had neglected to clip the Maverick oven probe anywhere, so it just hung from the next shelf above the meat. I waited until the last hour to insert the meat probe. Damper about half open.
I noticed the temperature readings of the Maverick and the oven were quite different. The probe above the meat read around 170 for quite a while, gradually increasing but never reaching oven temperature. I would guess from this that probe location is important.
After three hours, I secured the smoke but left the oven on. I wrapped the meat in foil, added ¼ cup of pure apple juice, and sealed the foil. After two hours (oven only; no smoke), I removed the foil. At this point I noticed the top of the ribs appeared dry, and the amount of liquid in the foil was a lot more than the ¼ cup I put in originally. I used a kitchen brush to baste the ribs with the liquid, the put them back in and fed a biscuit to the hot plate. I tasted the liquid – not bad, a little harsh, but with beef or poultry, it would make a nice gravy. I did not save it.
After the last hour, the moment of truth had arrived.
Now the questions. Why is there a wide temperature difference between the machine's oven temperature and reading on the Maverick probe? How can I get a thinner crust? The crust was dry, as in no moisture showing on it, and quite chewy. The flavor was great, though. Was the liquid in the foil after 2 hours a normal situation?
Is there anything I could do better?
Next up - cured and smoked kielbasa