New to the forum, but not to smoking

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Original poster
Dec 25, 2006
Hi Folks!

I stumbled across this forum while searching for rib rubs and wood combinations. I've smoked enough over the years to have worn out a couple of Brinkman water smokers. Nine years ago I ran across a close out deal on an Oklahoma Joe smoker with firebox and tall stack. I'll never use anything else.

I lived in Kansas City a number of years, and even worked for a spice company there who made proprietary rubs as well as rubs for owners of barbecue restaurants with their own label. I learned a lot there about spices and rubs!

One of the things I always worked on was how to smoke baby backs at low temperature with hickory wood, cause that's my favorite flavor. Like lots of other folks, The ribs would fall off the bone (dry, no sauce, thanks) but the hickory smoke flavor would usually be too strong, and sometimes even harsh and overpowering.

One old timer from Kansas City told me how he did it. Prepare the backs (definitely remove that membrane) and rub them down and let them sit for about half an hour. (I never use marinades) Then, wrap them in heavy duty plastic wrap, like Saran. It'll take several layers of this to keep it from melting through.

When the temperature stabilizes at about 265 to 270, put the ribs in the smoker and cook them until about half done or maybe a tad better. Then take them out, remove the plastic wrap, and put them back in the smoker.

Set your box for heavy smoke (soak the hickory) and finish them off til they fall apart. (Cooking them in the plastic wrap makes them tender, and if you leave them in the plastic too long they'll fall apart when you try to handle them). Sometimes, depending on how they look or are cooking, I'll spray them down with apple juice.

When you sit down to eat them, the hickory flavor (or mesquite) is just right, never too strong or harsh. The only time I wrap them is with those two woods.

Glad I found this place; I hope to pick up a few tips here.


PS: Merry Christmas!!
sirwriter, Welcome to the forum.. the ribs sound good. Looking forward to seeing more from you.

Keep Smokin
Hello Dan!
Welcome to the forum! Glad you are here. Your rib porcess is very interesting but I have a question. That is, from everything I have experienced or read, it seems to me that meat ceases to absorb smoke (for the most part) at about 140*. If the ribs are wrapped for the first part of the smoke, it would seem that they would not be taking on smoke during that time. Then, when they are unwrapped, wouldn't they be above the 140* point and if so, how much of the smoke flavor would they absorb??? Again, welcome to the SMF and we look forward to your posts.
Morning Bill,

Good questions about the process I use for hickory or mesquite wood. You're right about the ribs not taking on smoke while they are wrapped. And that is exactly why I wrap them, because I personally find the smoke flavor a little strong if smoked from the beginning with either hickory or mesquite.

Obviously you might wonder why I even put them in the smoker for that time. The answer is that they are cooking slowly with the same heat I've used for years and I trust it better than an oven. Also, they absorb the rub really well when locked inside that wrap. But the wrap also makes them incredibly tender.

I too have heard that ribs won't take on smoke flavor above 140*. But all my cooking is done above that temp, and without the wrap, using hickory, mind you, the smoke flavor is too much, sometimes to the point of being bitter. Of course, that's just my opinion. Lots of folks love that harsh smoke flavor that comes from using hickory wood.

I find that taking the plastic off and smoking them at the same temp until they are done gives them just the right amount of flavor for me. So I dunno about the 140* thing. All I can say is, the flavor is just smoky enough. You'll have to try a couple of racks sometime and let me know what you think.

By the way, I also use alder and cherry as well as apple wood for other meats and fish. I usually use the same temps pretty much, and they all take on smoke, it's just not as strong as hickory.

Take care,
Yep Chris,

I started thinking about that after I signed off. I've never used a thermometer before, but I guess I'm going to buy one and see how far off I've been all these years. Thanks for commenting on that!~
Welcome sirwriter, to the forum. If your method works for you, keep on smokin'! It's your unique style that makes your ribs special, and challenges the rest of us to give it try on our own. Kudos to you. Can't wait to see if you have any more "tricks" up your sleeve. Glad you're here, enjoy! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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