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Baby back disaster. What am I doing wrong?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

My first attempt at smoking with my new Camp Chef Smoke Vault was less than exciting. The resulting ribs were tough!  Not just a little tug.  I have cooked them on a grill for a lot less time and had them come out much better.

 

First I calibrated my thermometer and, sure enough, it was wrong so I used an oven thermometer that matches my kitchen oven.  So I kept a consistent temp.

 

I marinated overnight in ginger ale, orange juice and salt.  Pulled off the membrane and used a rub from my favorite local rib spot (Bodacious BBQ) and cooked a 2-2-1 program at 250 degrees.  Sauced before last hour.  Spritzed during first 2 hours every 15 min.

 

I want pull-off-the-bone tender ribs.  Not a big fan of tug.  Good ones I have seen draw back from the ends of the bone when cooked, but mine did not.

 

What am I doing wrong?  Should I braise them before smoking?  I don't know what else to try.

 

Any help at all would be appreciated.

post #2 of 17

I never give ribs any special treatment, especially marinade. I don't even peel the membrane. 250* may be a bit on the hot side...some may say 250* is their temp range, but I smoke BBRs @ 215-225* with a 3-1.5-0.5. It sets the bark a bit softer than 2-2-1.

 

BTW, we're your ribs dried-out at all with 2-2-1 @ 250*, or did they still have enough fat left in them? Drying out will make them tough.

 

 

Eric

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks, forluvofsmoke.  They were not dry at all, just tough and nowhere near fall-off-the-bone that I was looking far.

 

I got so hung up on the popularity of 2-2-1 from other browsing I had done, I totally forgot to do the bend test or even check the meat temperature.  Duh!

 

Do you have a temp that you know will be tender?   Maybe 190-195?  Also, at what point in the cooking do you check for the 90 degree bend?  Is it at the very end when you will know they are done?  If they are fall-off-the-bone, won't they fall apart when you try this test?

 

I am just so new to this style of cooking, and have seen so many TV contests and read so many tips, that I am just totally confused.  I know I should not expect perfect cooking on my first try, but I did not expect them to be so far off course.

post #4 of 17

Bend test will help determine how much they've cooked, but it's best to not use this after foiling, if you foil...yes, they can literally pop the bones out when you lift them. I also look for pull-back. I never check internal temps with ribs.

 

I started smoking spare ribs indirect on a gas grill way back in about 2002 or so. They were OK, but not like what I get from a smoker. The transition takes a few rounds to figure out what it takes to get what you like from a smoker, so don't get discouraged. Some of my best ribs came from my SV-24.

 

 

 

Eric

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks again, Eric.  I will try to utilize your suggestions and any others I get until I get the ribs right.  I am not one to give up easily.  Then it's on to brisket, butt, beef ribs and who knows what else.  Don't think I can fit a whole hog in an SV-24. :)

 

Us Texans love our briskets.

 

Gary

post #6 of 17

You mentioned you didn't have draw back on the bones. At 250 degrees using the 2-2-1 method there should have been draw back on the bones. I would still question your therms... 

 

My 2 cents

 

Boykjo

post #7 of 17

No two racks of ribs are the same. You may want to try cooking them to internal temp instead of time. 200-205 will be falling off the bone.

post #8 of 17

Opening the smoker every 15 minutes might be bringing the smoker temp down. 

 

Barry.

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.  I was thinking the same thing about the lack of drawback and maybe opening the door to spritz every 15 minutes (suggested by Myron Mixon) might have been a major factor.

 

Next time no spritzing and I'm not taking them out until there is drawback and temperature of at least 195 degrees.

 

I'll bet they'll be tender then!

 

Gary

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

Does anyone know of an oven thermometer brand/model that is usually spot on?  Or one that can be calibrated?  I don't want one with wires coming out of the oven.  Just one that can sit on a shelf or hang in the oven.  They seem to be all over the place with accuracy.  Not like good digital meat thermometers at all.  I guess because they mostly use bi-metal coils.  Digital circuit boards would melt, I guess.

post #11 of 17

IMHO To get ya restarted I would get an el cheapo thermometer from wally world then check  if the calibration is correct with ice water and boiling water.... If its close,  stick the probe through a potato so that the point of the probe is sticking out of the potato and place the potato where the meat is being cooked and monitor the smoke chamber that way..... this way you will know where your at. Those oven therms are no good

 

el cheapo from wally world

 

 

 

 

My 2 cents

 

Boykjo

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by biteme7951 View Post

Opening the smoker every 15 minutes might be bringing the smoker temp down. 

Barry.

This was my thinking as well... when you said you opened the door every 15 minutes to spritz (which doesn't do a thing in my eyes) I knew right then what the problem was... It takes a good 15 minutes for temps to come back up after opening the door.... Do as Boykjo said.. get a cheap probe therm (for now)... and then on the next run... leave door closed the whole 2 hrs... wrap and put back in.. leave door closed... I always check them after 1.5 hrs... especially if my temps were higher than 225` during the wrapped portion....
post #13 of 17

Gary, if you've been misting your ribs with apple juice or cider, then you may be a good candidate for either (or both) of these dry rubs...they're favorites with friends, family and relatives here:

 

Apple & Red Bell Pepper Rub on ribs...more of a basic rub with a sweeter profile and no added sugars (thread).

 

Hawg Heaven Rub on pork shoulder...a complex rub with more bite and a sweet background...good balance...also no added sugars (article).

 

Either rub will do justice for pork ribs...I've used them both on ribs. With these rubs you'll get a burst of flavor and there's no fuss once you start smoking...just cook to your desired level of tenderness per your prescribed method.

 

BTW, your mention of brisket in the SV-24 prompted me to mention: you'll have plenty of grate space for them, up to at least 22lb (that's the biggest I ever found around here...no space issues).

 

 

Eric

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for everyone's suggestions that should help get me back on track. 

 

Too bad I have a big project this weekend or I would give them a try right away.  I have to build a green house.  I've got to get that off my honeydo list since the weather is supposed to be great.  Now I need to find a greenhouse building board that is as helpful as this one.

post #15 of 17

Hi, My first ribs were tough.  Two things I know now, my ribs were not done enough and my thermometers read higher than grill level temps.  When removing from foil they should be about falling off the bone.

post #16 of 17
Baby back ribs I start checking around 185. Usually just do a probe test.
post #17 of 17

I've smoked ribs a bunch of times. Always got decent, not perfect. Then I read a lot of people were mopping or spraying towards the end of the cook. Tried that once and the ribs were horrible. Then I read a post by going by temperature, which I did with all my other meat but not BB ribs. I go off temps now and now my ribs are great! Fall off the bone and moist! No foiling. No Mopping. Just  rub a day before smoking. Then adding BBQ sauce after they're cut.  Smoker temps around 225 and pulling ribs around 185-190. Using a Thermo Pen for temps. Dominic

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