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Rib Disaster/Need Help

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
We attempted to smoke ribs for the first time today to no avail. First off, I thought they were baby backs but now think they were actually spare ribs. Do baby backs actually say Baby Back ribs on the package or do they say Loin Back ribs? These said Loin Back. They were 4.00 a pound from walmart and the rack weighed 3.49 pounds.
Now on to the cooking part. We coated the ribs with a grill mates rub the night before, rubbed first with mustard. We cooked them with the 2-2-1 method smoked at 250. We started them at noon and pulled them out of the MES at around 5:15. I smoked them with hickory with water in the pan and spritzed them every hour or so with apple juice. I also covered them with apple juice when we foiled them.
As for the taste part. They were very tough and looked and tasted like a pork chop instead of ribs. The rub was very clumped up on the outside and was not very appealing. I think we may have put too much rub on them.
Outside of that I don't know where I went wrong. I love baby backs and would really appreciate any advice or tips. I don't know what was wrong but they definitely were not good. We tossed half the rack.
If it matters I also had a 5 pound chicken going on another shelf. I ended up having to pull it out and finish it in the oven because the timer cut off and cut the smoker off. By the time I realized it the smoker had already cooled down so I just finished it in the oven. All this was after the ribs came out.
PLEASE HELP if you have thoughts or ideas!
post #2 of 20
From your description I am stumped as to how the ribs turned out; just a bad peice of pork?
I do not know where you purchased these, but in my neck of the woods all baby backs read exactly that on the markets package. I am assuming you had regular spares, which is all I make. With that that may have required another hour cooking time. Was there descent meat pull back on the bone?
Also, have you checked the accuracey of the MES's interior temperature thermometer with another thermometer you know to be accurate? This may be another possibility?
Sorry the ribs did not work out for you. I have not read through many of your past posts, have you had successful smokes with the new style MES you have?
post #3 of 20
Hey LC, sorry your smoke didn't turn out the way you planned. The ribs were 'baby backs'. It's hard to tell from reading but in my mind there are 2 things which are suspect. 1) What thermometer did you use in your MES to check/confirm the actual rack temp? 2) Check the salt content of the rub you used. If it's as salty as most of the commercial rubs out there, and you left the ribs with a lot of salt overnight, that may have drawn a lot of moisture out of the meat.

Once again, it's hard to tell but I suspect the temp was the main culprit. If it's cold and/or windy, it adds yet another complication to the process. There are several MES owners that'll no doubt offer some good advice.

Next time will be better,

post #4 of 20
Dang..... sounds like your gonna have to give it another try.

I put my rub on about 20 minutes before my ribs hit the smoke. I don't touch them the first couple of hours. Might spritz, might not. Done both. I'm not sure what caused such a meltdown in success on your ribs. Sounds like you just tried to hard.
If at first you don't succeed.....
Tomorrow is a whole nother day.......
A rib in the smoker is worth 2 pigs in the yard..... if your hungry..... maybe...
Anyway.... don't give up.
post #5 of 20
If your temps were low and you used alot of juice-dont use more then 4-6 ounces- then they didnt steam in foil-means the juice kept them from cooking.I dont add anything to my foil anymore, except i lay the ribs in turbinado sugar,honey and tiger sauce in that order and foil 1 hour and a half.The judges love my ribs.I have never cooked with electric smoker, but DO NOT GIVE UP. Loin backs are baby backs-if you look at them from side the bone underneath makes a c shape-the bone on spares is flat underneath and wider.
post #6 of 20
i have a mes and just smoked some st. louis style spares yesterday... i have been experimenting with different time as to the 3-2-1... i have never had any bad ribs in cluding baby backs on any of my smokes... yesterday was the best ribs i have ever done and i did 4 1/2- 1/2-1... i don't like the meat to fall off the bones so i cut back on the foil time... i set my mes at 225 and let her go... no spritz just smoke... i did put some apple cider in the foil. the last hour i applied bbq sauce... they were very good... as to what you might have done wrong it sure don't make any sense to me... my only suggestion would be to change your rub... i used jeffs rub and like it very much.....
post #7 of 20
If they are true Baby Backs they should weigh a lot less but that wasn't the problem as I see it. It could be a temp problem. The foiling requires some liquid to do the braising part, that's what makes them tender and requires a temp of 180' + in the foil to work.

Here is a brief explanation of braising, but not particular to ribs, just the technique. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braising

I don't believe in heavy rubs on my ribs, just a coating of a mild marinade, I use Youshida's terriyaki, granulated gerlic, and lemon pepper.

Bottom line is if they were tough they weren't braised. Hell you could take the toughest peice of meat and braise it and you could shred it.

Another tip, I always set the MES to 24 hours and when I am done I just pull the plug. Can't go by time always by temps.

Good luck, you can always PM me with Q's If I can help.

post #8 of 20
Sounds like yall paid fer baby backs. 2-2-1 should be a good startin point fer them. Don't add anythin durin the foil, I will spritz em right before wrappin in foil an call that plenty good enough.

As fer a rub, ya can make a far better rub then ya can buy, one thin most them commercial rubs contain is lots a salt. I also coat with cheap yeller mustard the night before an a nice coverin a my own rub. Never had it clump up on me like yer describin.

I would use a digital thermo fer checkin yer box temp, the ones that come with most smokers er usually wrong.

I spritz once an hour before the foil an right as there gettin foiled then no more after that. I don't add sauce till after I pull mine outa the smoker, then I brush with a 50/50 blend a melted butter an honey. Let rest fer 30 minutes.

Ribs be bout the only thin ya cook perty much by time. Way I do mine ta see ifin there done is the meat has pulled back from the bone an when ya pick up a rack with a pair a tongs they will bend over but not fall apart.

Hope that heps some.
post #9 of 20
Lots above to think over. I'm guessing salt content was too high, and possibly, smoke chamber temps were too high...those 2 things will be the biggest contributing factor to your description of narly ribs.

I started smoking spares on a gas grill with a water pan about 8 years ago...3-1/2 to 4 hours, and we ate. A bit chewy, but, not like you're talking. I ran higher temps than I do now in a smoker...probably would have been 270* or higher.

Shoot for 225*, and be able to verify the temp, with a tested/calibrated thermometer. Cut the salt way back, almost none. Get your rub flavor from spices. Start simple and add more later when you discover what you/you're family likes the taste of...thats how I got to my rub recipes.

Good luck, keep smokin'. Aint easy, the first few runs will make ya scratch yer head!

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
OK so everybody says check the temperature on the MES which I definitely will do. My question now is how and then what do I do? Say I set the unit temperature to 250 and the thermometer reads 275, Do I then start setting the unit at 225 when I want a 250 smoke? When the MES's are off are they consistently off through the temperature range?
This was only the second time we used it. Last weeks butt turned out great. We'll definitely heed the advice given and try again. Thanks for all the advice.
post #11 of 20
I may be jumpin in kinda late here but I have a couple of thoughts that the others maybe didnt.
First of all Loin ribs are back ribs. Baby backs need to be below 3# I think. Otherwise they are just back ribs. And thats a good thing.
Second if you got your ribs at Walmart or Sams (I think you said) then you definatly got enhanced ribs. They are injected with a solution of stuff which includes salt. More salt in your rub will be a problem. That said... enhanced ribs wont be tough, it just changes the flavor and texture a bit. I try to by natural ribs whenever possible. Enhanced butts arent a problem for me.
Yeah some guys are like that...
Third If I read it right you covered the ribs with liquid at foiling time. If thats true then that time wasnt spent cookin the ribs but trying to heat the liquid. That might also have been why your rub was messed up. I add a couple Tbs. of liquid when I foil. Thats to creat a little steam.

Better luck next time. Keep us posted. We love to hear when advice has helped your cookin improve.
post #12 of 20
I think you got some bad ribs. I dont know about anyone else on here but I have gotten a few packs of ribs at sams and they were really bad so I stopped buying them from sams. next time you might want to go to a meat store its a bit more money buty well worth it.
post #13 of 20
To check the accuracey of your MES's thermometer use a seperate pre-checked thermometer to gauge the MES's accuracey.

To pre-check another thermometer boil some water, when the water starts to boil an accurate thermometer will read 212ยบ. Then stick your accurate thermometer into like a potato and onto a shelf in your MES, If both the MES's thermometer and your prechecked thermometer have the same reading, you know your MES thrmometer is accurate. If they do not match it should give you an idea of how far it is actually off.

An anolog thermometer will work just fine for this test. But a great smoking tool is to have a digital thermometer that has a cable to the smoker and meat probes (internal meat temperature is not something you need to know for ribs, only the smokers interior meat temperature). This will let you know the smoker and your meats internal temperature without opening the door and letting heat out of your MES. If this interests you a Maverick ET-73 is a good digital thermometer and if has a remote you can carry with you that can let you know if meat temperature has reached its desired temperature.

Internal meat temperature is not something you need to know for ribs, only the smokers interior meat temperature.
post #14 of 20
I thin the ribs be part a the problem to. I used ta buy smithfield ribs at walmart. Excellent ribs, they have stopped carryin em, now only have the tysons, I won't use em, tough, little meat an more exspensive.

Tryin ta get the meat manager back online, I ain't the only one complainin. Try a batch a ribs from some other source an see ifin ya just got burnt on that batch, does happen.
post #15 of 20
alot of good info from the pros-my thoughts are make your own rub-check your heat& don't buy your meat at wally world-and play with the 2-2-1 or 3-2-1 guide-and make sure your chicken is under the ribs,it's all a learning thing-what makes it fun.
post #16 of 20
Sorry to hear about your ribs, but like some of the others said I'm sure they were baby backs. I think your problem was the rub that you used. I've never had your problem, and Sam's is the only place I cane get baby backs. I think the grill mate rubs are to course of a rub. The only rub I ever use is Jeff's, and I never had a bad result yet. Don't give up, just try again, I'm sure it'll be better next time.
post #17 of 20
Hey man, sorry your meal was ruined. I know there's nothng worse than spending a better part of a day (and the night before) making something you're looking forward to eating. Here's a couple of thoughts.
1) Don't buy from Wal-Mart. If it's like everything else they sell there, it's probably from China. No single company has done more to hurt the USA than them. But I'll let that go for now.
2) Newbie thought, but one I did when I ruined my first rib smoke...did you pull the membrane off the back? That will them as tough as you described.
3) How think was your smoke? From another ruined batch I learned to be careful with how much smoke I was using. And what type of wood. I had one batch that burned the back of the throat when you ate it.

Just my $0.02.
Oh yeah, avoid Wal-Mart at all costs. Buy American (they don't)
post #18 of 20
Could not see where you reside but altitude and barometric pressure have an effect on the temperature that water boils at. In my area it runs from about 202 to 206 usually. There are lots of places on the net that have calculators for doing the math so you can check it on any given day if you know the barometric pressure. It can run up to 10 degrees off. Which can make a big difference on the cooking times of ribs. PDT_Armataz_01_28.gif
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Ok, in response to a few of the questions about my question. I did pull the membrane and the ribs were bought at walmart.
Also, we're right at sea level so I'll use the 212 as a guage to test my thermometer. Since this thread I started another one saying my smoke went bad again today. I think the MES is not working properly. It doesnt seem to heat like it should. We tried maxing it out today and the highest it would get is 230. I had it set to 240 yesterday so at that rate it was only cooking at around 200 yesterday. That could have had something to do with it too possibly. I cooked a chicken for 6 hours today and it still wasnt done.
post #20 of 20
Yessir, I thin ya just found the majority a yer problem. Most a my smokin is done at 250*.
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