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New guy concerns

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Well, gang, I have smoked three times.  I must say, in all honesty I have been a little disappointed in the results.  Twice with a single rack of St. Louis style ribs, and once with some country style “ribs” cut from a pork butt.  The ribs were cooked 3-2-1, and the country ribs were done as per the recipe on this web site.  In all cases, the meat was well done, but the crust was dark, thick and hard, requiring a serrated knife to cut through it on the plate.  Much darker than shown in the pictures in the recipe.

Here is the set-up:

I used a new Bradley 4-shelf smoker, set to 230 and preheated for about a half hour, with a dual probe Maverick thermometer.  Before using the Maverick, I checked both probes with boiling water - 212, ± 2.  Close enough.  The meat probe was not used on the ribs, simply relying on the time and temperature given in the 3-2-1 recipe.  I did use it in the country ribs, though.  I used the oven probe in all cases, both above and below the meat.  The damper was half-open in all cases.  Hickory smoke biscuits.

My main concern is with the oven temperature.  The readout on the Bradley said 230, varying about 10 up or down most of the time.  The Maverick oven probe was all over the place, from 230 to 280 throughout the whole time.  What’s up with that?  Which thermometer should I rely on?

I have a big family barbeque coming on Memorial Day, and would hate to have problems.


post #2 of 9

I'm definitely a newbie myself but one thing I learned when I smoked pork ribs for the first few times was that the 3-2-1 method is good in theory but may need to be adjusted to each cooking session.  Meaning that sometimes it may take me 2 hours to get to the foil stage as opposed to 3 hours and only 1.5 hours in the foil as opposed to 2 hours.


I'm sure guys that have been doing this for years will have more advice but that's one thing that's helped me.

post #3 of 9

Bear recommends 2.5 : 2.5 : 1 for FOTB.  Take a look at his recipe.  Im sure he'll be happy to help out.  Do you think the temps were too high?

post #4 of 9
Do a boil test on the Maverick. If it's within a couple of degrees I would trust that over your Bradley therm. I don't know your smoker, but on my Masterbuilt temp swings of 40 degrees are common. Make sure the Maverick BBQ probe is next to the meat you're cooking. It does take some trial and error to get to know your smoker. Thats why its so important to keep a log book detailing every aspect of every smoke-you can learn what works and what you want to do differently next time. Hope this helps.
post #5 of 9

Do you have nay details on the rub/prep procedures? Your bark should not be so hard that it takes a knife to cut. 


As for the temp swings, that seems to be the norm with most electrics. Go by the maverick and adjust the settings as needed. I place my Maverick probe on the same rack as what I am cooking (Or in the middle if using multiple racks) as the temp at the meat itself is all that matters.

post #6 of 9

Pretty sure that a Bradley is thermostatically controlled, as such, you will get temp swings.   Don't know anything about the placement of the Bradley's probe for temp readings, but would go with the Mavericks anyway.


All that said, temp swings aren't a big deal as we aren't tempering chocolate here.  Some variation in temp isn't going to hurt anything, it just throws your timing off a bit.  Your Maverick read a 230 to 280 temp range which is just fine for everything that you have attempted so far.


As Bmaddox said, some details as to your rub and your procedures would be great.   As for the cooks, I'd take it to the basics.  Don't wrap anything.  Skip the 321 and all that.  Just put the meat in and cook it.  Learn how to test and determine when any particular cut of meat is ready.  For ribs, you want to see some pull back from the ends of the bones.  You also want the ribs to pass the Bend Test.    BTW, with more practice and experience, you'll find that there are some differences in the "bend test" depending on how you like your ribs cooked.  I.e. for "fall off the bone" ribs, you'd still want to cook them past this point.


With the CSRs, I'd use the poke test.  Poke them with a probe or toothpick and when you get no resistance, i.e. the probe slides right in, they are done.

post #7 of 9

I was under the impression that electrics hold a constant temperature, or maybe a 1-2 degree variation (similar to the thermostat in your house)?  Is this not the cause?  Whats the total temp swings on a MES on average?

post #8 of 9
Originally Posted by mummel View Post

I was under the impression that electrics hold a constant temperature, or maybe a 1-2 degree variation (similar to the thermostat in your house)?  Is this not the cause?  Whats the total temp swings on a MES on average?

I wish they held that close. The problem with most low end electric smokers is that they use a very simple control setup (on/off only). That is why you will see higher end electrics use PID controllers that are able to "learn" and adapt as you go.


The temp swing is almost impossible to predict. If it is a hot day with no wind and I am leaving the door closed than it will only swing a few degrees up or down. If the wind is blowing, it is cold out, or I am in and out of the smoker it could swing 20 or 30 degrees. 

post #9 of 9

Wow I didnt know.  Thanks. 

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