First time to use smoker, ribs extremely dry.

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by bigdog72, Jun 29, 2014.

  1. bigdog72

    bigdog72 Newbie

    I just bought a 30" Masterbuilt propane smoker. I've never used a smoker before, but I've grilled for years with both charcoal and propane. I just tried my first batch of boneless pork ribs and they came out so dry and hard they were too hard to eat. It was almost like big chunks of jerky. I used a recipe where I cooked the ribs in the oven before i put them on the smoker. They were tender before I put them on the smoker. I had it on the lowest setting. It was a warm day, so it even on the lowest setting it got up to around 300 degrees. I cooked them for about an hour and 15 min, then dunked them in sauce and put them back on for about 30 minutes (maybe not even that long). What did I do wrong?
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    " You cooked them in the Oven first."  The Propane smoker " IS " an oven. It smokes and cooks at the same time. Basically you cooked them twice and since it sounds like you smoked Boneless " Country Style " Ribs. They contain part of the Loin muscle and are super lean, meaning they dry out easily.You should shoot for a smoking temp of 225 to 250°F.for Pork and Beef, then crank it up to 300°F+ for Poultry. Many Gassers need a Needle Valve modification to control temps.

    I recommend you take Jeff's Free 5-Day E-course, and any meat you would like to try smoking, do a search for that meat. After doig your homework feel free to ask any questions you may have in the appropriate forum. We can get you smoking like a pro in short order...JJ
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
  3. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey....everybody screws up somethhing eventually, hopefully not in front of guests waiting for a meal. So, lick the wound and like JJ recommended use the search bar for loads of good intel for your next cook. This ain't rocket science BUT if it was super easy everybody would/could do it. Try a butt (very forgiving) or some cheap chicken quarters to redeem yourself......Willie
  4. bigdog72

    bigdog72 Newbie

    I guess I should have explained it better. I cooked them in the oven, submersed in beer. A friend of mine gave me this recipe. They were moist and tender when I put them on the smoker. I think I just left them on the smoker too long. For one thing, I'm in Texas and this time of year, it's at least 90 degrees outside (if not 100). Even turned down all the way it got up over 300.

    I figured it was going to be trial and error. I'll get it figured out. Luckily this first batch were just for me, so I was the only one disappointed. I saw in another post, someone mentioned using the Maverick Model #ET-732 wireless meat thermometer. Is this worth investing in?
  5. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    By all means invest in one... it will be the most important part of figuring these things out... and also as JJ said.. look into a needle valve for that smoker... you'll be able to get temps down in the 100's ...
  6. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You kind of went backwards. Sounds like the ribs were done, or almost, out of the oven. So not sure what you were trying to accomplish. The closer meat is to finish temp the less smoke it absorbs. You should start on the smoker first to get some smoke and then foil with some liquid to re-hydrate if they are too dry for you. Oven or smoker after they're foiled, really doesn't matter. Then if you want to set a sauce or get a bark....out of the foil and back on the smoker for a bit.
  7. Big dog you do need the Maverick. Personally I use the ET733 and it works excelente. I also did the water test on both the thermostat and the maverick Thu was off by 2 degrees ad the one from the smoker for 25*. Worth the investment.
  8. bowtech

    bowtech Newbie

    Hey BigDog, a fellow Texan here. I have the same smoker that you have. I am curious, did you use the water pan? The reason I ask is because you stated that on the lowest setting it got up to 300. 

    I use the water pan in my smoker and on the lowest setting or close to it, I can hold 225 pretty constant. I would suggest the 3-2-1 for the ribs. I use it when I do ribs and they come out superb. They almost melt in my mouth. 

    Be careful with the chip pan on that smoker as well, as you can get a fire in there very easily. I have started using wood chunks and only put about 3 large chunks in the pan, or get a cast iron skillet to put your wood in. 

    I think the 3-2-1 is a sticky under the pork section of the forum, and as mentioned, do the 5 day course to help along the way.
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    BigDog, there are a ton of " Old School " recipes that call for Simmering or Baking in Liquid, it is actually Braising, before Grilling or Smoking to finish the Ribs. This was done for speed and to tenderize the tough meat. But these recipes where also developed at a time when Piggies where slaughtered at a much older age on the farm, or before the Pork Farmers had the current hybrid breeds that are fast growing, leaner, inactive and brought to market at a younger age. The fact is that any meat that goes in a Smoker at a Low temp of 225-275°F for a long enough time will become tender given some time. The main factor that makes meat, I will stick with Pork, come off heat Juicy is the Collagen, connective tissue, that starts breaksdown to Gelatin once the Internal Temp (IT) reaches about 160°F. The more active a muscle is, and the older the pig is, the more Collagen it contains. It takes time to breakdown, hence the Low and Slow concept of Smoking. On Pigs the front Legs (called Picnic Shoulders)  and Shoulders ( called Boston Butts or Butts ) are active muscles from walking around and rooting, lots of tough Collagen. The Ribs are loaded with Collagen because pigs breathe and the ribs and belly muscles are contantly moving. Less active muscles like the Loins, running along the Spine and into the shoulders just keep the Pigs belly from dragging on the ground but don't do much work. These are low in Collagen and therefore dry out easily if cooked a long time or to an IT over 150°F. The cuts sold as " Country Style Ribs or Boneless Ribs " have some of the Shoulder meat and more or less some portion of the Loin muscle. This is good and bad as portions of the meat need time to get tender while the light colored piece of Loin does not and will get dry cooking for the time needed to get the bulk of the meat tender. Now Simmering and Braising in the Oven, tenderizes quickly because water dissolves Collagen and removes it from the meat. We see this when leftovers come out of the refer and there is Jelly sitting in the bottom of the container or when cold saved Pan Drippings becomes Jello. What happened to you is by Braising in Beer in the Oven, you removed most of the Collagen from the meat so the Boneless Ribs were tender and fully cooked. Now you took this meat and Smoked it at 300°F for over an hour, cooking them a second time. CSR's right out of the package only take an hour or so to get full cooked and tender at 300°, to begin with. Basically anything that you fully cook Twice is going to be dry and tough. I am thinking your friend left out some important parts of the recipe on cooking times and temps! There is a learning curve to this and if you check out our recipes and techniques for smoking you'll be fine...JJ
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
    domerskee likes this.
  10. bigdog72

    bigdog72 Newbie

    Wow! Jimmy J! Lots of good info there. From what you're saying the misunderstanding was on my part. He said about 45 minutes in the oven and 45 minutes on the smoker. That didn't seem long enough to me. I believe you have hit on my mistake. I'll adjust my times on each side now. I appreciate all the info from everyone and I'll definitely be researching the needle valve and the meat thermometer. I'll also look for the class. How long should the 5 day class take? It's not really 5 whole days is it?
  11. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    No, the course is sent to your E-mail every day for 5 days. The info takes about 5-10 minutes to read. 45 minutes makes more sense but the point I was trying to make was simmering and braising is not needed and just Saps Flavor from the pork. You will find that unless you are in a serious rush or don't want more than a trace of smoke flavor, the meat will taste 100X better just adding a tasty Rub and Smoking the meat until tender. Even if you choose braising in Beer because you like your friends recipe, you will get a more flavorful product smoking first. Smoke does not stick to cooked meat very well. I will post some recipes and info to get you started...

    Smoked Ribs as easy as 3-2-1

    A full rack of Spare Ribs will take about 6 hours at 225*F...The 3-2-1 smoked rib recipe is a good way to smoke ribs and tends to turn out perfect ribs every time whether you are using the meatier Full rack spare rib or the Saint Louis cut. Baby Back Ribs and Country Style Ribs use a 2-2-1 method. The ribs are smoked at 225 - 250 degrees for best results...
    The 3 stands for the 3 hours that you initially smoke the ribs with nothing but your favorite rub on them and some smoke with your favorite hardwood such as hickory, apple, pecan, etc. After the 3 hours you remove the ribs and quickly double wrap them in heavy duty foil.. just before you seal them up add some Foiling Juice or Apple Juice and close the foil leaving some room around the ribs for the steam to be able to flow around the meat and the juice to braise the meat which Flavors/Tenderizes it.

    The ribs cook in the smoker wrapped for 2 hours undisturbed. There is no need for Smoke at this point... After 2 hours remove the ribs from the smoker, unwrap, saving any juices in the foil, and place back into the smoker for the final 1 hour, with smoke if you wish.This firms them up, creates a nice Bark and finishes the cooking process. You can add a glaze or sauce at this point if you like. The meat will be pretty close to fall off the bone and be extremely juicy, tender and flavorful...JJ

    Foiling Juice / Sweet Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

    Foiling Juice

    For each Rack of Ribs Combine:

    1T Pork Rub, yours or mine

    1/2 Stick Butter

    1/2C Cane Syrup... Dark Corn Syrup...or Honey

    1/4C Apple Cider...or Juice

    1T Molasses


    2T Vinegar, 2T Mustard and 1/4C Ketchup to make it more KC Style Glaze.

    Simmer until a syrupy consistency.

    Allow to cool for 5 minutes, pour over foiled Ribs and

    run your 2 hour phase of 3-2-1. For the last phase return

    the ribs to the smoker BUT reserve any Juice remaining

    in the Foil. Simmer the Juice over med/low heat to reduce to a saucy thickness. Glaze the Ribs for presentation or service.

    For a Sweet Finishing Sauce for Pulled Pork:  Make a Double batch, Butter optional.

    Add 1/2 the batch to the Foil Pack or place it in a Pan with your Butt, when the IT hits 165*F.

    Cover the pan with foil and continue to heat to 205*F for pulling.

    At 205* rest or hold the Butt in a cooler wrapped in towels until ready to serve.

    Pull the Pork and place it back in the pan with the pan Juices and any additional reserved Foiling Juice to moisten and Serve...OR... Bag and refrigerate until needed.

    When re-heating place the Pulled Pork in a Pan or Crock pot and add reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Cider, as needed to make up the Juice that was absorbed while  the pork was refrigerated. Cover and re-heat in a pre-heated 325-350*F oven or on High in the crock pot to 165*F and Serve.

    Note: the addition of the reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Cider should make the PP moist but not Swimming.

    I was AMAZED...No additional sauce needed. ENJOY...JJ

    Mild Bubba Q Rub  (All Purpose)

    1/2C Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado)

    2T Sweet Paprika (Hungarian)

    1T Kosher Salt

    1T Chili Powder (contains some Cumin and Oregano) Ancho Chile is same without cumin, oregano etc.

    1T Granulated Garlic

    1T Granulated Onion

    1tsp Black Pepper, more if you like

    1/2tsp Grnd Allspice

    For more heat add Cayenne or Chipotle Pwd to taste, start with 1/2tsp and go from there. Makes about 1 Cup

    Apply your desired amount of Rub to the meat, wrap in plastic and rest in the refrigerator over night.or longer. The day of the smoke, pull the meat out, add more Rub and go into your pre-heated Smoker...

    If you like your BBQ Sauce on the Thick and Sweet side try this...

    KC Bubba Q Juice

    2C Ketchup

    1/2C Brown Mustard (Gulden's)

    1/4C Apple Cider Vinegar

    1/2C Molasses

    2C Dark Brn Sugar

    1T Tomato Paste

    1T Your Rub

    1-2tsp Liquid Smoke

    1tsp Worcestershire Sauce

    Combine all and warm over low heat just until it starts to bubble. Simmer about 5 minutes, stirring very frequently, to combine flavors and to thicken slightly.

    Use or pour into a sterile jar and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.

    Makes 3 1/2 Cups.

    If you like more Tang and some Heat, this is a good one...

    Red Bubba Q Juice / Lexington NC Style

    2C Cider Vinegar

    1C Ketchup

    1/4C Texas Pete or other Hot Sauce

    1/2C Brown Sugar

    1tsp Gran. Garlic

    1tsp Gran, Onion

    1tsp Blk Pepper

    1tsp Salt

    1T Worcestershire Sauce

    Cayenne to Taste

    Combine all and simmer 5 minutes to combine flavors.

    Makes 3 Cups
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  12. bigdog72

    bigdog72 Newbie

    Yeah, I used the water pan. I'm sure I just cooked them way too long.
  13. bigdog72

    bigdog72 Newbie

    Thanks Jimmy J. Sounds good. I'll give that a shot.

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