how long to rest baby back ribs? wondering why one rack turned out great and another didn't

Discussion in 'Pork' started by iloveribs, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. iloveribs

    iloveribs Newbie

    I recently smoked two racks of baby backs that had been frozen. I let htem thaw in the fridge for a couple days. Then smoked both at 225 for about 4.5 h. I let one rest for about 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving and then wrapped the other and kept in fridge overnight since we didn't need that much food. The rack we ate that night was moderately dry and I was pretty dissatisfied with them. However, the next day I put the other rack in the oven covered with foil to reheat for about 20-25 min on 350 and it was absolutely delicious. Very moist and tender.

    Now was this simply because I only let the one rack rest for 10-15 min? Or is it something else? They were both frozen together and so maybe it was because the meat side of one of them was touching the other? I just want to know what was the cause of one rack being delicious and the other being sub par since they were cooked identically. 

    Thanks for any help!
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hmm, you have me thinking. While I don't recall doing exactly what you did in recent years, there may be something with the foiled reheat. Did you use foil about mid-point during cooking, such as for the 2-2-1, or was this straight smoke on open grates? I've noticed a slightly drier rib if I foil mid-way during cooking, which can also indicate at least partial over-cooking (foiling is a compromise for getting a softer bark), is why I asked. Were the ribs cooked at the same grate temp, or is it possible that your smoker has temp variances which cook one slab hotter than the other?

  3. I did BBs over the weekend and did a 3-2 and then let them rest for 2 hours. They were perfect!
  4. smokinal

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

    What was the IT of the ribs when they were done.

    195, juicy & delicious.

    200, fall off the bone.

    I'm thinking the first rack was under coked & the rack you put back in the oven was cooked just right. It just needed to cook a little longer.


  5. cksteele

    cksteele Smoking Fanatic

    was thinking maybe one rack had some freezer burn on it or something was one rack in the freezer longer then the  other ?
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It was a twin-pack of ribs, from what I gathered.

  7. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I'm willing to bet that one rack was bigger than the other or, if they were about the same size, the first rack could have benefited from the extra time at 350° as well.  
  8. damon555

    damon555 Smoking Fanatic

    Those ribs weren't even close to being done...4.5 hours wasn't nearly enough time @ 225 degrees. The one you reheated was much better because it had more actual cooking time.....resting in the foil and then reheating the next day......If you want to smoke at 225 degrees don't bother even looking at the baby backs for 6 hours.....They'll more than likely take closer to 8 hours if you leave them alone.

    There's really no need to rest ribs......I've found that in the time it takes to pull them off the pit and get them cut up and put on plates they are ready to eat.....
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I would go with either one was bigger than the other, or one was just a better rack of Ribs.

    I do my BabyBacks at 225° for 2-2-1 give or take, and never had a problem.

    I do Spares at 225° for about 2 1/2--2 1/2--1/2.

  10. I with Al and Damon, they weren't cooked enough. You finished off the other rack in the oven in foil for 25 minutes or so. That did the trick. 

    Like Al said, if you can get a good reading with a probe that will help, but you can just poke em with your probe or tooth pick and see if there is much resistance. 
  11. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm surprised no one mentioned the bend-test and/or pull-back to check cooking progress...age-old technique that takes about 5 seconds per slab, requires no high-tech gear and is effective. BTW, 225* for 8 hours would destroy BBs beyond recognition...spares would even suffer after that long. I think some have missed a key point made by the OP...I fail to see how under-cooked ribs could be dry...over-cooked ribs, yes...but I've never had under-cooked ribs be dry...tough, but not dry.

    Maybe I've over-analyzed this, but since the OP hasn't been logged-in since his one and only post, maybe we've been the victim of a troll...I have better things to do. I'm done here.

  12. Sorry, but I beg to differ. Undercooked ribs, such that the collagen has not sufficiently broken down will result in a dry end product. Baby backs in particular are a bit leaner than spares and if undercooked enough, would be dry. It could be any number of other factors, but undercooked is a perfectly reasonable assumption.  
  13. damon555

    damon555 Smoking Fanatic

    In my 22.5" WSM running @ 225 degrees big ol' meaty baby back racks will usually take close to 8 hours...This is not conjecture as this has been my experience with dozens of racks of ribs.....When my ribs are smoked in a rib rack there's no practical way to do the bend test. I have to go by pull back from the bone and the toothpick test. When I get 1/2" or so of pull back then I know they are very close to being done.

    I just did 4 racks of st. louis spare ribs for labor [email protected] 255 degrees they took 6.5 hours. When I tried to pull them out the of rack they were falling apart. Had to remove them very carefully to get them out in one (or two) pieces. 

    When I first started smoking I used baby took me a few years but I've slowly made the transition to spare ribs. Much better tasting in my opinion. There is also a lot more fat....that's probably why they taste better to me. I also gave up on foil....there's no reason to go through all that fuss when just leaving them alone produces a far superior product.
  14. iloveribs

    iloveribs Newbie

    Sorry I haven't been back! I'm not trolling!

    Thanks so much for all the comments. Here's more info based upon what has been said/asked

    I did the bend test which is how I figured they were done. They were on for 4.5 - 5 h at 225 with the occasional spike up to around 240.

    I didn't foil/2-2-1 method but spritzed with apple cider vinegar twice. 

    Regarding the oven doing the trick: the ribs that were sub par did not improve when I reheated them (we had a quarter of the rack leftover) in the oven so I don't think it was a matter of cooking them longer?

    Regarding the possible freezer burn: the ribs were frozen together so the meat side was touching the other rack's bone side. I don't remember which was which though. Is it possible being exposed  to air made one rack worse or the other rack being stuck to the back of the other rack made that one worse? 

    Size wise they were about the same. I've attached a picture of the two racks

    I'm thinking maybe they weren't on long enough? Still not sure why one rack turned out so much better despite no difference between the two when both were reheated in the oven. Reading Eric's comment, they may have been more tough than dry and maybe that was the problem. Thanks again! 
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
  15. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Disregarding the possibility that the bad rack was just a tough piece of meat, I'd bet dollars to donuts the rack that was refrigerated was done, while the other one wasn't quite done. Collagen breaks down under fairly specific conditions, however those conditions are a moving target. One side of the smoker may have been slightly hotter. One rack may have been slightly denser. The moon may have been in the wrong place. Who knows? It sounds to me like both racks were almost perfect, but the one that wasn't eaten right away had the benefit of a longer rest in foil, was then refrigerated undisturbed and then reheated. The other had too short of a rest period, was cut into right away, and perhaps was straggling just a few degrees behind. Sounds like you just caught a bad break with this one.
    What to do in the future? Probe your ribs for temp. As Al pointed out, this is the only sure fire, repeatable, rock solid way to get ribs the consistency you want each and every time. The bend test, looking for pull back, waiting for the weep, waiting for the cracks...all have been around for ages and all have contributed to the myth that ribs are difficult to nail every time. Sure, these will get you in the ball park, and a seasoned pit master whose been doing it regularly for many years can achieve good results with these methods. But for the average guy who wants to do a couple racks of ribs every now and again, cooking to temp is nothing short of magic. It will make even the most inept BBQ-er (me for instance) look like he knows exactly what he's doing.
    I learned of this a while ago and have done about a dozen racks, both spares and BB's, since then and have nailed every one. Before that I had maybe a 50% success rate. I'm not bragging, I'm just trying to point out how well this works. It also works at any pit temperature, in any smoker, grill, hole in the ground and, forgive me for saying, in the oven.
    Ok, I'll stop preaching.
  16. iloveribs

    iloveribs Newbie

    Thanks for the advice. I forget where I'd read that probing rib meat was inaccurate and to just do the bend test so that's why I hadn't bothered but I'll go ahead and probe from now on.
  17. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I tried the probing too, but I find the bones in Ribs to be too close to each other to allow an accurate reading, even with my Thermopen. I only have to move it slightly & the temp changes too much to be realistic. IMHO

    Try it--Maybe it'll work for you.

  18. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've never had any troubles with it. I just stick the Thermapen in between the middle bones and it's been accurate and successful at least a dozen times running. There are quite a few other folks on here who use this method as well and have reported repeated success.
  19. smokinal

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

    I agree.

    It's the only foolproof way to get consistent results time after time.

  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Maybe I'll try it again, but have you guys ever put the probe between two bones---Then pull it out & put it between the next two bones---And then the next two bones???

    Were they all the same reading. If not, how much different. I've had 10° to 15° difference. No--The meat wouldn't be that much different for real---It was just the distance from the probe to the bones making the different readings. Or I could pull the probe out & put it in again maybe a half inch over & get a different reading.

    That doesn't happen with a large piece of meat, like a Butt, brisket, or Chucky. Maybe my Rib Racks are too thin, and it's like trying to probe a piece of Jerky or a slice of Bacon???

    This is why I never tried probing a rack of Ribs, until I saw Al's Rib Thread. When I first started smoking, everybody on this site said Rib Racks were the only thing they don't probe, because of the thickness and the number of bones. That made sense to me so I never tried it until lately.

    So far it hasn't worked for me, but if I only stuck it in once at one place, I would have never known it wasn't right.

    Oh Well, I don't do Ribs very often, but I'll try again to see what happens. So far I never found it necessary.


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