Awful first ribs on new to me smoker

Discussion in 'Pork' started by beecee, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. I recently made my first attempt at both baby back and spare ribs on my new to me Brinkmann Cimarron offset smoker which I restored.  I was going for the 3-2-1 and 2-2-1 methods which had worked out perfectly when I smoked just using my weber gas grill. The results were far too smoky or just a real off flavor. After doing some research I think I have found my issues.

    Highlights of the process

    Started the coals with a regular charcoal chimney had some non lit in the basket I made that I poured them on.  Also added two applewood chunks.

    After about a half an hour I was at 235 which I thought was ok and put the ribs on 2 bb 1 st louis spare

    cooked the ribs about an hour and a half and the temp was dropping.  Threw some more cold briquettes on the coals and another chunk of wood.

    Wrapped the BB at 2 hours wrapped the spare at 3.  Unwrapped the BB after 2 and had to add more charcoal again. got a high temp and closed the firebox vent and the damper to 1/4 open.

    unwrapped the spare rib. pulled the bb off. checked the temp of the oven thermometer and  realized my main thermometer was way off saying 220 when the oven thermometer was saying 190.  took the spare off and finished it on the grill. 

    the BB were  a 3 out of 10 the spare was just awful.  probably a -3.

    Both thermometers at one point were reading the same temp when they were in the same vicinty so I'm not sure what happened to throw one out of whack.

    I believe my issue with the ribs were multi layered (all found after using the search box). 1. I added cold briquettes to my fire during the smoke.  I wasn't sure how this was done.  It did bellow out white smoke which concerned me right off the bat.  I will use lump in the future.  I wanted to start off with lump but had the kingsford left over.  2.  In order to keep the temp down there was a period where I closed off the firebox vent and left the damper at a 1/4 open I don't think there was enough flow. 3. The thermometer was not accurate.  I put the oven thermometer in there to help but it was too late.  4. I do have to seal off the doors and am currently researching the best way.  It doesn't leak that much but I still want it sealed.

    Do these sound reasonable as to why the off flavor?  I really think number 1 was the real culprit as I read the fillers in the charcoal can cause issue.  But I also read about the minion method which might contradict this.  I should have researched more about cooking with briquettes. 
  2. I don't like briquettes for the reasons you found for yourself while others swear by briquettes. I get a much cleaner fire with lump. I think adding cold fuel to produce the "bad smoke" is what caused your off flavors.
  3. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Adding cold briquets or lump will give you bellowing white smoke that can give you the nasty flavor. If you are adding in mid smoke put the charcoal/briquets in a chimney starter and wait untill about half of the charcoal is lit before dumping it into your fire box. You will get a temp spike, but it will settle down and you wont get the nasty white smoke.

    In looking at your profile picture your lid therm is in the wrong place. You want two lid therms located 2-3" above the grates, one on the left side and one on the right side. Also use some heavy duty dryer tubing to extend your exhaust stack down to just above grate level on the inside.

    The heat (and smoke) come out of the fire box and want to go straight up to the top of the smoke chamber, travel across the top and out the exhaust vent. By lowering the vent to grate level you force it to come back down and over the meat (where you want it). This also helps to even out temps from side to side, especially if you have a baffle and some sort of tuning plate(s).
  4. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    [​IMG]  , [​IMG]  .
  5. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    There's always a wise guy
  6. They actually looked great, I was pretty excited.  They just tasted like you licked the inside of the firebox.  So I'll just use lump and make sure I keep the chimney open and it sounds like I should be ok until I get the hang of the smoker.
  7. Also, JIrodriguez, I do have an extension on the chimney. It probably goes down a half an inch to 3/4 of inch above the grate.  I just bought a piece of steel to extend the baffle.  It has one now but is only a few inches.  I'll see how the extension works and then go back and buy a few more steel plates for tuning plates.   As far as the thermometer, that is the location that came with the smoker.  Being the thermometer is so inaccurate anyway I will be using a new Maverick for temps. Thanks for the advice.
  8. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Good to know [​IMG]

    It sounds like you may have got some creasote from the heavy start up smoke of dumping cold briquets on the fire - or possibly from not quite dry wood chunks. I have found with fruit woods it is best to add one lump at a time about two hours appart, I don't know what it is about fruit woods but they seem to produce a large amount of smoke if you use to much at one time.

    Give the ribs another go but make sure you half lite any charcoal you need to add, and space out the wood chunks. Also make sure you scrub out your smoker to remove any creasote.
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I am going to swim against the tide here. As you alluded to, the Minion Method is lit coals firing unlit coals so it is unlikely that was the problem. It was more likely closing down the Exhaust Damper results in your bad taste. This not only causes the fire to burn dirty it holds the smoke in to the point that it essentially gets Stale and concentrated giving a nasty flavor to the ribs. Contrary to what many manufacturer's say, the temps should only be controlled with the fresh air damper. Closed to cool the fire and open to increase heat. This has come up before and most agree the only time the Exhaust isn't 100% open is to keep Bugs and Rain out...JJ
  10. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Good eye JJ - I missed the part about closing the exhaust vent to only 1/4 open, that is definately a no-no. Like JJ said keep the exhaust wide open and control temp with bottom vents.
  11. rattlin_ram

    rattlin_ram Fire Starter

    I'd agree with JimmyJ.  Keep the exhaust vent open all the way.  I have used briquettes and I've used lump.  Honestly cant tell the difference in taste.  The difference I've notices is briquettes burn longer, lump burns hotter.  I also will throw my apple wood on the top of the chimney with the charcoal when I start it, after it gets going for a while. So I don't get the billowy white smoke in the smoker.
  12. I always add fresh unlit charcoal or wood to my offset firebox. It doesn't cause a bad flavor. But as was said, leave the rain cap open while cooking, or it can cause trouble. I would say your problem was too much heavy smoke.

    Try again and let us know how it goes.  :)
  13. Oh I'll be trying again.  Probably doing a pork butt this weekend.
  14. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    And don't over smoke.
  15. That is an interesting photo! I know it is an old thread (but new to me! lol). It looks like TBS on the right, and heavy white smoke on the left? Is it just the photo, or is that the way it is?

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