Baby Back Ribs First Time Help......

Discussion in 'Pork' started by golson, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. golson

    golson Fire Starter

    Well after a successful weekend before my ribs cooking whole chicken and salmon for first time. My ribs did not turn out as I planned.....

    Here was my method:

    - 2 whole slabs at Kroger. Removed membrane and rinsed.

    - Next I prepared my MES with water pan and hickory chips to 225F. Using the top two racks.

    - Put on the rub. Got a nice wet look and laid them in smoker.

    - The temp was still hard for me to keep right at 225F. So I set the smoker at 206F, and my digital probe read between 211F and 235F in between coils turned on and off.

    - After two hours, I removed the ribs and placed in foil with a half cup or so of Apple juice in each foiled rack. 

    - One quick note. I did notice the first two hours, the meat was pulled back from the bone but maybe not a whole lot. Around a little less than a 1/4".

    - Smoked for another two hours in foil.

    - Removed ribs from foil and placed the ribs on the rack for the last hour. At this point, I think they were not ready for open grill. They were still a little stiff and did a little bending but not like falling apart. I could pick them up without breaking or falling apart on me.

    - So I let them sit the last hour, took them out and let cool for 15 minutes.

    - Started cutting the ribs and noticed right away they were not ready. They just felt to tough for me. They were done, but the meat was not juicy or moist at all. And when eating the ribs, the meat would not come off bone like they are supposed to. 

    - I smoked these for the first time and followed the 2-2-1 rule, but that something seems a bit off. Not moist, a little dry and tough, and way to stiff. 

    So I think my problem might be either the temperature, Time, or more juice in foil.....Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
  2. wellcraft69

    wellcraft69 Newbie

    I just literally got done smoking my first set of ribs as well.  I had a similar experience.  I smoked my for a total of 6 hours with smoker temps between 215-235.  Meat was done and rub tasted great, but they were not tender enough.  Not even close to falling off the bone.  Any help from anyone is apprecaited.
  3. It's possible that the temperature inconsistency had something to do with it. The ups and downs can potentially do that so try for more level heat 225-230 deg. maybe a little less only during foiling with juice. Check the thermometers for accuracy as well. Let your ribs rest a little longer maybe even in a cooler with towels or on the rack of your oven with door closed. You don't need a lot of juice when you foil. I usually use around a 1/4-1/3 cup sprayed on depending on the size of ribs no more. 
  4. realtorterry

    realtorterry Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You might need to check the temp. Gauage on the smoker if there the factory ones they may be way off! Sounds like you got it right even with the pullback? Maybe next time try the bend method. When you think they're done hold one end & if the other end bends almost 90 they should be good & tender
  5. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    You didn't say if they were baby backs or spares. If they were spares they should have gone 3-2-1.  Either way when you take them out of the foil they should be almost falling apart. Almost so much that it's hard to get them back on the grate to firm them up without them breaking apart. I know this sounds stupid but did you seal the foil up tight, because it's the steam in the foil that tenderizes the ribs?
  6. golson

    golson Fire Starter

    How do you get the MES to maintain a constant temperature when the heating element goes on and off all the time? My thermometers are RediCheck dual probe. So the thermometers are not an issue. 
  7. tulsajeff

    tulsajeff Master of the Pit Staff Member Administrator OTBS Member

    I have noticed some of the baby backs in the supermarkets recently being a lot more "meaty" than what is considered to be normal. When it comes right down to it, you have to let ribs cook until they get tender no matter how long that takes.

    If they are super meaty, it will probably follow a more 3-2-1 route like the spares if you are

    Let them keep cooking/smoking with indirect heat until they are tender. Everyone has their own unique way to test for tenderness, here's how I usually do it: Grasp 2 of the bones and pull them in opposite directions. If the meat between the 2 bones tears easily, the ribs are done.
  8. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    The 2-2-1(or 3-2-1) method is a guideline, not a rule written in stone. The biggest variables that effect rib cooking time are smoker temp and rib size, IMHO your cooking temps were too low. Next time use the bend test as a doneness guage(see the pic next to my name), don't take the ribs out of the cooker until they "pass" the test.
  9. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Also remember every time you open the door or top to look you lose way more heat then you think.  Not saying you  did that, but if  you did it would lead to them not getting done.
  10. cole

    cole Fire Starter

    I think the foil and spraying with some apple juice is necessary.  good luck
  11. greendrake

    greendrake Smoke Blower

    I follow a basic 3-2-1 on my Traeger 075.  Light mustard coating, my competition rub, sit overnight in the fridge, a light dusting of fresh rub before tossing them on the smoke, hit them at 225 for three hours, then 190 for two, wrapped in foil, then sauce three times in the last hour at 225.  I also spray them every 20 minutes to develop the tacky caramelized texture.  I do not spray them once they are in the foil.  I am doing a couple racks right now, I will take some pics when I start the saucing.
  12. deannc

    deannc Master of the Pit

    It sounds like a temp issue to me.  Have you tested your probes?  Just because it's a maverick doesn't mean it's accurate.  I've gone through 3 ET-73 probes in about 4 months.  Partly my fault, but you still have to either ice or boil test them often to ensure accuracy.  A good temp for ribs is between 225° and 240°.  If they weren't done your chamber temp is most likely the problem.  

    When doing ribs I don't bother to spritz since you're only looking at a 2 or 3 hour period before you're going to pull them and wrap them.  When you wrap them add a 1/4 cup or so of apple juice (and I don't pour or spray it on the meat).  You can also add whatever else your using (I add some butter at this point).  If you go the full two hours, if your chamber temps are correct, when you pull them, they'll literally have bones falling out/off when you go to place them back on the rack.

    Grab a couple more racks and give them a try again, keep track in a little notebook so you can keep up with what you're doing each time.  This will help you perfect your process and when you find your sweet spot you'll remember what you done.  Sorry can't help much with the operation of the MES because I don't have one, but the process and temps are the same.  Now go get some ribs and the CAMERA!


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