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New Sam's MES tough babybacks, why?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am new, bought Masterbuilt electric smoker because of this forum. After breaking in I smoked two racks of Costco babyback at 225* (checked temp with thermometer). Put hot water in pan before start, when temp got to 225 threw ribs in and added chips every 30-60 minutes. Removed and covered ribs in foil after 2 hours, cooked 2 hours more at same temp. Uncovered ribs and cooked another 1 hour. so total cook time 5 hours, maybe a little less. Ribs tasted smokey enough, but somewhat tough. I waqnt fall of bone ribs. I am new to this so any help would be appriciated. Thanks. Dave
post #2 of 21
Dave welcome to SMF congrats on the new smoker. If you did 2-2-1 on baby backs they should have been very tender. My first thought would be that it was the ribs sometimes is happens.
post #3 of 21
Did you put any liquid when foiling them? That is the braising part. If you did, do it longer next time or maybe you just got some tough ribs but I doubt it.
post #4 of 21
Did you check for pull back before you foiled? I make sure i have at least a quarter inch of pull back before foil. Then like Ron said, a little liquid in the foil helps with the braising. Were your temps at 225 throughout the smoke? I have a propane unit, and sometimes when I am adding chips or adjusting the chunks, the temp drops below my target temp. I try to get the temps up back to 225, and check for pull back. Some times it takes 2.5 or more hours to get the pullback I want prior to foiling. Try it again....It'll come to you...
post #5 of 21
Other than What has been sugested your ribs should have been tender. Check what you bought, if they were Danish BB's there is no way to make them tender short of boiling (I didn't say that) them.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
I did not put any liquid in/on before foil. How does that work,remember I am totally new to all this. got ribs at Costco and heard quality was good. What is 1/4 inch pullback? Please explain. Thanks Dave
post #7 of 21
Pullback= As the ribs cook the meat srinks and exposes the small end of the bone thus the 1/4 inch pullback is customary.

When you foil add some apple juice or other suiteable liquid; it basicly steams them.

On EDIT: Are you sure of your temps, if cooked to low you are basicly makeing jerky.
post #8 of 21
No liquid = no braising.


The meat pulls away from the bone on one side.

Hope that helps.
post #9 of 21
Hi Dimiyatake,

You got a lot of people here pulling for you. I say try it again.
post #10 of 21
As explained the first thing is to get the ribs to the pullback stage. Then To get the right amount of moisture, I lay out a large sheet of heavy duty foil on the counter then I spritz the ribs with a mix 1/2 apple juice and 1/2 Dark Rum till dripping wet. Thats all the moisture you need for the braising. Wrap the ribs in the foil and then add another layer of foil so the steam cannot escape. This will tenderize the meat so much that you have to be very carefull it will not fall apart when opened. Then one last hour in the smoker to firm it up a bit.

For a really nice touch you can spritz with Orange brandy straight up instead of the apple juice / rum mixture. It gives a really nice unique taste to the finished product.
post #11 of 21
Sorry about your first attempt not working out. You have been given enough advice and instruction to help get your next batch to come out perfect. Nothing to add, just trying to encourage you to get smoking again.PDT_Armataz_01_22.gif
post #12 of 21
I'd say to check the accuracy of your thermometer. Put it into boiling water and see how close to 212* you are. When I first started out I had a similar experience .... my thermometer was about 30* off. Ever since, I use a digital thermo that I have checked. Good luck.
post #13 of 21
I don't think I've seen it mentioned yet...Did you remove the membrane from the "back" of the ribs?
post #14 of 21
First off - sounds like you did everything right...

but I agree - the most likely reason for your ribs being tough, is that you weren't cooking at the temp. that you THOUGHT you were cooking at!

I don't own an MES, but maybe others can tell you if they had to replace the stock temp. gauges with better ones?

For some damn reason, almost ALL of the temp guages that come stock on many of the smokers we like to use - are crap. Most people replace them with Tru-Temp gauges or something equivalent.

Well - whatever the case, don't give up! Ribs can be tricky, but they're worth it. Do a pork butt next time, that will make you feel good tongue.gif then try ribs again later.

Good luck.
post #15 of 21
The 30 inch MES tends to run a little hotter than the display. From reports of those with the 40 inch it has a hard time maintaining set temperature.
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies and encouragement, when I bought the MES I knew the temp gauge that it has might be off from all the posts here so I checked it with another thermometer, MES was about 40* too hot, which I compensated for when doing ribs. So anyway I think my temp was right but will check again. Also membrane was removed. Will try again this weekend with all the tips you guys have given me, 1/4 inch pullback, apple juice,. Thanks all. Dave Miyatake
post #17 of 21

Good Luck...

On the second go around, remeber practice makes perfect just try some of the previous advice and smoke away.
post #18 of 21

I have the 30" MES and I've found that the digital temp reading is not necessarily accurate. I created a "port" into the side of my MES at mid-grate level that allows me to insert a probe for a digital thermometer into the chamber. I smoked venison bacon on Monday (70 degrees outside) and found that I had to set the smoker at about 195 to get 170 degrees in the middle of my cooking area.

One of the first times I did ribs on my MES, I had the same problem. I'm pretty sure it was because my setting of 225* was only getting me 180-200 degrees. Get yourself a digital probe thermometer. Stick the probe through a potato (so that it doesn't come in contact with your smoking racks), and monitor your temp that way. Invaluable.
post #19 of 21
By the way, the temp in the MES chamber also varies greatly based on how much and what type of meat is inside. There seems to be a lot of variability there for whatever reason. Sometimes mine runs hotter than the readout, sometimes cooler. All the more reason to use a reliable probe to monitor chamber temps!
post #20 of 21
[quote=dmiyatake;310555 I waqnt fall of bone ribs. Dave[/QUOTE]

I think the q in "wangnt" is a typo and that you're saying you want "fall off the bone" ribs.

If that's right, it may be that you just need to adjust your expectations a bit.

I think most experiened smokers are looking for meet that pulls from the bone with just a slight bit of resistance. At a lot of places where you get meat that is literally falling off, the ribs have probably been boiled, although you can get to that stage if you braise them in the foil long enough.

If that's really what you want, try extending the time in the foil by 15-20 minutes.

I have to say that when I think ribs are cooked perfectly, my wife thinks they're not as tender as she'd like (so guess how I try to cook 'em).
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