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First solo smoke .. St. Louis ribs

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

OK, new member here ....  formal introductory post here http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/246045/hello-from-kansas :)


Today I am doing my first solo smoke on my 18.5 WSM ... I hope it goes well. I still have my heart on a Yoder Wichita. I have told myself that if the WSM does not end up in the corner of the garage by next spring Ill buy one ... Or I may decide the WSM is enough and all I need? 


I have friends who smoke meat and I am a frequent griller, but I work a lot of hours and due to not many completely free days, I am just now buying my 1st smoker. 


I have today off .. gonna smoke some ribs, clean the garage and do yard work. Ill update this post as things go along ... I welcome advice but please hold advise until the end, I have a plan and do not want to modify it on the fly. Reply posts of feedback and general chit-chat are completely welcome and will likely provide encouragement .... Please hold advice until I have posted the finished product. Win, loose or smoker blows up, Ill post pics as it comes along 




1st things first .... Prep



Took the ribs out of the fridge, removed silver skin and trimmed. The recipe I am following calls to coat them in Canola oil. I found this a bit different, I was expecting to coat them in mustard for a "layer of flavor", but hey, I hope they know more then I do. Canola oil is also not a odd ingredient for me, I cook with it enough I have 2 bottles on hand. 


After ribs were trimmed and coated in oil, I covered in rub, friend of mines recipe. Rub "pressed" in, not "rubbed". Going to allow them to sit until completely room temperature, ~1 hour or so






Edited by tsonka - 5/13/16 at 7:21am
post #2 of 22

Sounds like a good start!



post #3 of 22

You're going to love the Q the WSM produces!!!

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

OK. First update ...


Gonna keep this thread honest and my 1st update is a delay!!


I had planned on starting my smoker and letting the charcoal get started while the meat was coming to room temp .. Oh, No ... wont happen that way.


Walked out to my garage to start the cooker and saw the paint cans that need to go to the County Hazard Waste disposal 





Trying to be a responsible adult I do not want a fire going while I am not home, so I took a bit to dispose of the paint .... The way I look at it, the ribs had an extra hour to get Happy! in the rub.






Now for cooker prep. 


I went with this version of the Minion Method. The reason i went this way is when I was seasoning my cooker I used the traditional Minion and I had trouble with high temperatures. I thin this way will have less heat and more controlled timing on wood smoke.



I have the charcoal ring half full. I also put thought into the wood. 


Meat only takes in smoke for the 1st few hours. I have my wood on the middler and inner parts of the ring, none towards the outside, and the outside is smaller pieces. I hope I get smoke for the beginning and just heat in the 2nd half of cooking?


Coals going, foiled water pan in and ribs on lower grate




I want to stay close to 225deg, but to keep it from getting too cool, I am shooting for 230deg +/- 5deg ... I went all vents open until 210deg, closed all but 1 lower vent on the side getting the wind, left the top vent fully open ... let heat rise to 230 then closed bottom vent to 25% ... I am the kind of person that can stare at the ThermaQ for 6 hours and loose track of the day .... Unless things get out of hand, I am going to check it every 20-30min

post #5 of 22

You might want to pull your pit probe away from the meat a little bit.


The cold meat may make the therm show a cooler temp than it actually is.



post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 

Ok ... after 30min my temp is 20deg high







Closed all vents. Maby the leaky ass door will let in enough oxygen -- recheck in 20min

post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 


Temp very slowly dropping .. gonna roll with it .. update in 1 hour 

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

30min later, all lower vents still closed ... 235deg ... very very slowly dropping

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

BINGO .. have opened a lower vent 25% and it seems to be holding steady 






Notice the Bi-Metal is off 25deg?

post #10 of 22

Get a BBQ Guru and it is as close to set and forget,as you can get.




post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

3 hour mark


Pic of cooking temp and inside cooker




Ribs are nice and dry ... These will end up with wet sauce on them ... I would like a dry rib recipe if anyone has one



Ribs are currently at 157deg .. dunno how that compares ..... comment welcome here






Wrapped the 2 ribs separately in foil with 1/8 cup Cider each .. Hard Cider sounded better then Apple Juice






On for another 2 hours

post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 

Final product and dinner plate .. Ribs, Sweet Corn and Fried Okra





post #13 of 22

Looks great to me.... lets eat!

post #14 of 22

Ribs, sweet corn, and fried okra...doesn't get much better than that!  Save me a plate.  Nice job on the first smoke.  Looks great.:Looks-Great:

post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

OK. Noted my pictures dwindled off towards the end, there are none between starting "2" and finished product. Friends started getting off work and life started getting a tad bit busy :)



Few things I noted and to critique the ribs



Random things I noted:


- Opening the door buys a 10deg temp increase

- My door leaks bad, as far as Im concerned its a 4th vent. I found that all vents closed to 1 lower vent open 25% held 225-230deg very well. Top vent was always open.

- I was concerned with white smoke but after an hour into it I had invisible smoke.



The ribs:


I was pleased with what "I" cooked but have had better. They were too smokey and too fall off the bone. I used Hickory, maybe next time use Pecan or Apple and not put 2 larger chunks right next to the heat starting point?


Rib temp was approx 160 in the end. I forgot to check the ribs right away but 10min after taking off the cooker I checked them and they were lower 150's

post #16 of 22

Nice job for a first Decent bone pull back Points for a fine job




post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 

WOOT ... Thanks for Points!




Im still to get motivated and go outside and check coals yet ... Im curious about the burn path of the coals.  assume they likely burnt towards the open lower vent ..... If I check the cooker and the burning is skewed one way, next time Ill barely crack all 3 bottom vents evenly and try to have oxygen (fuel) entry even on all sides of the heat

post #18 of 22

If you get some gaskets it will make holding temp easier.



post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 

+1 .. Im in 




post #20 of 22
Nice looking ribs!

A few things on the WSM. You mention closing all the vents. Does include the top exhaust vent? If so it should remain open all the time while cooking. You need good airflow to get good smoke.

You can get a replacement door from here:


A quick fix while smoking is to cram tin foil in the gaps.

My WSM door leaks too but isn't a real concern. I still am able to maintain even temps.

You really need to be on top of the temp. As you get close to your target temp start shutting down the lower vents. Try no to over shoot that temp. It's easy to work up, but hard to work down.

I run a dry water pan as I feel it's easier to control the temps. I also use what is called a side light method. This where you fill the charcoal basket full, assemble the smoker. Open all vents. Then use a propane torch stuck in one of the lower vent openings to light the charcoal. Run the torch 3-5 minutes shut off watch temps. Repeat until you are satisfied that you can achieve the targeted put temp.

As for therms, the stock ones are never correct. My WSM is great because it's old enough that it didn't come with one. So the iGrill does the job.
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