- 9,295 Posts. Joined 2/2013
- Location: Central Pa
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I disagree with "cook at whatever temp you want " if you exceed 225 degrees by very much the ribs will be tough as shoe leather , the key to tender ribs is low and slow ( but I have never cooked even the toughest ribs more than 5 hours ) after about 4 4 1/2 hour take the ribs out and let them sit for at least an hour , this lets the juice redistribute through out the meat
did an actual blind test once...... on one plate fresh ribs ( right off the smoker ) 2nd plate.... ribs that had rested about an hour , 3rd plate .....ribs that had been smoked the day before and rewarmed to 160 degrees ...... ..99% picked the day old ribs that had been rewarmed as best tasting and most tender ..( no sauce just dry rub )
Interesting the turn this thread is starting to take with cal1956's comment. I'm going to jump in the camp of chamber temp is relative. Here's why:
Regardless of the meat, there is a huge misconception about the absolute necessity of low n slow for tougher cuts of meats. Until I started smoking meat I never did anything low and slow in the oven (briskest, chuckies, butts, ribs, etc). Sometimes I braised (cooked in a liquid), sometimes not. The temps I used were always 350F or higher. Collagen in meat, the connective tissue stuff that makes meat tough and must melt to make tougher cuts of meat tender and juicy, will melt regardless of the chamber temp you use. Lower temps require longer exposure to heat; higher temps less exposure. It all has to do with heat transfer, but I'm not going to get into that.
The real issue is the window of perfection. That perfection window shrinks at higher temps. The lower the temperature you use, the better your chances of hitting that window if you smoke your meat long enough. At 500F that window may only be 10-15 minutes. At 225F that window could be 60-90 minutes or more, depending on the size of the meat. It is that expanded window of perfection that makes low n slow smoking meat (225F+) more successful for folks.
In just about every case where someone says "I smoked my ribs, brisket, butt at 225F for (blank) amount of time and they were dry and tough. What happened?" The answer generally can be explained as they were not cooked long enough. If the connective tissue doesn't melt you get dry and tough tasting meat. That often gets interpreted as overcooked when the exact opposite is true; they were undercooked.
Bottom line, pick a temperature and time range that works for you. Understand what is happening to the meat. Then share that success with others, but please don't make the mistake of believing the myth that one temperature is necessary for perfection. There is entirely too much evidence to the contrary.