Can't get ribs right, what am I doing wrong.

Discussion in 'Pork' started by anico1613, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. anico1613

    anico1613 Newbie

    I have done ribs 4 times. Each time I did the 321 method. 3 times I did spares and this last time I did loin backs. For some reason every time I take them off they are tough. I thought with adding cold liquid and bbq sauce that they maybe weren't getting done so this time I warmed both up a bit, but it didn't matter. I went an extra hour this time so 322 and that still didn't matter. They seem tough and a little dry. I cut them in half racks so the bend test doesn't work the best but even when I try it or pull two adjacent bones apart they barely split and are very tough. I tried probing a rib and it seemed to glide in effortlessly and it was around 165, though it was hard to get an accurate temp. I know they are supposed to be around 180 -190 so do I really have to go even longer? Seems like they will be completely dry.

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  2. d-train

    d-train Fire Starter

    What kinda cooker are you using and what temp?
  3. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    What temp are you cooking at? Where are you getting your temp reading from? Most built in therms are off up to 50* from grate temp. You may get some good advice if you can mention what model smoker you have and your setup as well. How are you prepping the ribs could be useful as well. I never foiled and cook around 225/240* and haven't had issues.
  4. anico1613

    anico1613 Newbie

    Cooking at 225, checked the probes and they are accurate. 18.5 wsm cooker. I had one half rack come off at the 3-2 mark that was falling off the bone so that one was actually overcooked but was really tasty. But all the others I put back on and sauced up. I normally prep by removing the membrane, adding some rub and throwing them on when the smoker is at 225. One thing I could think is maybe I overpacked the smoker, though the last time I only had 2 racks on so I don't think so.

    Here are the most recent loin backs


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    Last edited: Oct 27, 2014
  5. anico1613

    anico1613 Newbie

    I do foil pretty heavy at the 2 part but I wouldn't think that would make that huge of a difference either.

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  6. anico1613

    anico1613 Newbie



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    Last edited: Oct 27, 2014
  7. anico1613

    anico1613 Newbie

    Also spares, these were probably the best ones.


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    Last edited: Oct 27, 2014
  8. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    They look tasty nice smoke ring,so that's good. I can't really tell how the meats pulling up from the bones from the photos. Do you use water in your water pan? I don't think your overloaded,I gave the same cooker, I guess you cut the slabs in half to cook them.
  9. anico1613

    anico1613 Newbie

    Yea I cut them in half to fit them in the racks otherwise they were out of control. I do use water in the pan, yes. How far should they pull away from the bones? The top and bottom of the bones where you hold I am assuming right?

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  10. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    80% of the time the biggest problem is patience. Relax feel the zen, achieve that perfect chi, have another cold beer instead of running and checking the meat. The best smokes I have are when I just least care. When its important like a family gathering, that when I screw up. BUt then again I never get complaints.

    Remember you are always your biggest critique. You picture in your mind what they SHOULD look like and smell and taste like and it only happens like that when you just don't care. If you can nail it exactly how you want it everytime, you need to put wheels under that smoker and hit the circuit!

    15% preparation, 5% dumb luck, and 80% patience.

    If 3,2,1, is tuff try 3. 2.5.1. If still tuff go to 2.5 3, 1. That last one is just to allow for saucing and to firm up the meat after steaming for tender in the second part. I have always found that the meat is good to eat after the steam mode, then I throw in to dry a little.

    I usually just leave 'em on the grate without foiling. If you regulate temps, its less work and I kind of like 'em better that way.

    BTW your ribs look fine, if you think they are dry look at your foiling sauce/foiling time. Each pit is different, the formula works but you have to refine it for the pit's temperment and the outside temperature.
  11. If you are getting 165 IT then those weren't done enough most likely. Looks to me in most of the pics that they could stay on a bit longer, but just MHO and based on pics you have. You said the rack that fell apart was "overcooked" but real tasty. All this points to not being cooked long enough. Should be enough fat on spares and SLC that drying out won't be a problem. Even with BB I never seem to dry them out.

    Overall what I aim for is fat rendering. I don't foil typically and don't touch them til at least 4 hours in and the I just check for fat rendering. I like them rendered real nice, just before they fall off the bone.

    All said, your ribs look nice. Could be little darker which would come from longer cook time and would give you a little bark. Yumm! May cook me closer to 240 smoker temp.

    * there are many folk more smarter in ways of Q than me, however.
  12. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What Master Foamheart said [​IMG]   I too have a WSM.  I throw my SLC spares in a 235F smoker, sometimes a dry smoke (because I usually forget to add the water), sometimes wet.  I smoke SLC ribs at 235F and never foil unless I want them fall-off-the-bone for my wife and kids.  Don't even look at them for three hours.  A quick spirtz, and I mean quick, then leave them alone for 90 minutes, then another quick spritz.  I do a quick visual check at this point, 4.5 hours, to check color and look at the draw.  By this point you'll see a little draw up on the bones.  I usually do a bend test at 5.5 hours and check the draw to get an idea when they'll be done, then figure my 30 minute sauce point.  3.5 to 4 lb SLC racks are almost always done between 6 and 6.5 hours.  If the temp spikes when I'm saucing I don't worry about it. 

    My wife and one of our daughters considers a "competition bite" tough and dry.  I think they are perfect and juicy, as does my other daughter.  When I make my wife and the one daughter FOTB ribs by 3.5-1.5-1 they think they are perfect and I think they are overcooked and mushy.  I usually wrap them with a half cup of apple cider. 

    I smoke to the crowd.

    BTW, when I used my gas grill to BBQ ribs it probably took me 30 tries to get them perfect.  Took only a few tries when I started smoking because the knowledge transferred nicely.  You'll get that perfect rack soon enough.  Then you'll get a new idea and you're off to the races again.        
  13. Anico,

    Considering finding another person in your area who makes good ribs. 
  14. I use to foil but found I prefer the texture of my ribs without the foil step. I can tell you from the pics you posted it looks like you could use some moisture on those ribs. When you foil, are you putting any liquid in the foil and on ribs before you wrap them up? If not try to add something like squeeze butter and brown sugar, or some bbq sauce cut down with apple juice, or you can check out Chef JimmyJ's foiling juice.

    If you add liquid in the foil your ribs will steam and you should not have dry ribs. As I said earlier, I don't foil but I do spritz my ribs every hour. Here's my last BB smoke.

    Hope this helps. Good Luck!!!
  15. anico1613

    anico1613 Newbie

    Thanks everyone for the help. I will try some of these methods. I do add liquid to the foil but it may be running out as it's hard to wrap the ribs without getting holes In the foil. I have some ideas now, I will report back with the result next time I do ribs.

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  16. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Try giving them an extra half hour. Ican't quite put my finger on it, but something looks "off" in those pics.

    I could be wrong, but it looks like they are not quite cooked enough.
  17. jbills5

    jbills5 Meat Mopper

    Get heavy duty foil and the tears won't be a problem.  Also, if you get a tear, you can double wrap.  Also, use the bend test and toothpick test to check for to see if they are done.  When bending, they should bend pretty much 90 degrees and the bark on the meat will crack. When using a toothpick, the toothpick should penetrate the meat easily.
  18. Looks that way to me as well. Could be on the smoker a bit longer. I think you would get the added benefit of a little more bark as well.
  19. superdave

    superdave Smoking Fanatic

    The color looks off and not like anything I foil.  They should be much darker.  And much like the bend test, having the meat shrink up the bone is another good indicator.  The pictures tend to show meat still tight to the ends of the bone.  Once you foil, feel free to crank the heat up a bit, 250.  The foil phase is mostly about producing some steam.
  20. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No foil and keep the temps down around 250° in your chamber. Use a little bit of brown sugar in the rub and let the ribs sit on the counter for about 15-20 minutes - the sugar will melt and make a nice coating. Put the ribs in your WSM and leave them alone for at least 4 hrs. - starting at the 4 hr. mark you can check them for the bend test, if not ready put lid on and wait another hour. Once they pass the bend test wrap in double layer of heavy foil and let them rest for at least 30 minutes - usually while you work on other stuff for the feast!

    They will bite cleanly from the bone and be nice and moist!

    No puppies were harmed in the making of this dinner!


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