Ribs are tough and falling off the bone???

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walton bbq

Original poster
Jan 14, 2016
Hey guys I need a little help. I've had trouble with my ribs after switching to my new offset (250 gallon propane tank). The last two times I've cooked spare ribs I've cooked them at 225 - 250 (same as always with great results on my drum) for 2 - 2 1/2 hours then foil for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. I use oak wood with a simple salt and pepper rub. Here is the problem... I've been getting ribs that are, a little dry 1st cook, kinda juicy 2nd cook but 100% falling off fhe bone with both cooks...however, the meat itself is not that tender. I can pull the bone out with ease but the meat is too chewy (not succulent at all). In my experience, when my ribs come clean off the bone the meat is almost like pulled pork (over cooked I know) and undercooked is juicy but meat clings to the bone. I'm getting a little discouraged... I love the open flame offest flavor so much but overall a better result on my drum. Any thoughts?
First off welcome to the forum. Usually when ribs are chewy they aren't done. Normally spares take 5-6 hours to cook, but what I don't understand is why the bone pulls out so easily. It seems odd that you would get a bad rack 2 times in a row, unless you bought a cryo-vac  3 pack at Sam's or Costco. If that's the case I would say you just got some bad meat to start with, otherwise I don't have a clue. I'm sure others will chime in with a better answer.

Thank you for the warm welcome and your reply.
Yea, it is so strange. When I opened the foil after just an hour and a half on my last cook, (total of about 4 hours) almost all the bones had popped out of the meat on their own. I grabbed a toothpick to probe for tenderness and it didn't feel tender. I didn't take them any further because (falling off the bones) like that has always been my sign for overdone.
Hopefully it is bad meat. Meat seemed pretty good though. Both racks were from my local piggly wiggly and bought about a month apart.
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Agree with Al that this seems pretty strange.  Fall off the bone ribs should be super tender -  even overly tender.  My first theory is with Al...maybe you just got some really tough racks of meat.  Have you tried doing a slow re-heat of any of the leftovers in some foil...and if so, are they more tender the 2nd time?  If so, that would indicate to me that they were simply initially under cooked, in spite of falling off the bone...sounds weird, but that's all I can think of.

I agree with you gents - likely the pig. I've had a similar problem with brisket and other cuts on occasion, especially with select cuts.
IMHO your ribs were not cooked long enough at the temps you cite. They probably could have used 5-6 hours cook time. Were they full spares or St. Louis cut? What was the weight of the racks?
They were St. Louis fairly small racks. Only like 8-10 inches long and maybe 4 inches wide.

Thank ya'll for taking time to answer. So I'll try getting ribs from another source.

What happens when ribs are really really overcooked? Do they lock back up and get (dry/tough) or do they just completely turn to mush, break down into almost pulled pork, then start to dry up (dry/loose) meat?
If they do get (dry/tough) again do ya'll think that is a possibility in foil for 1.5 to 2 hours at 250 or would that take much longer?
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Yea it is. It's a digital thermometer at grate level right next to meat. I try to cook ribs around 250 but sometimes it will hit 265 or so. But i've had great success cooking ribs at a little hotter temp on my drum. It' just on my new offset that i've had problems. However i've only done ribs twice on the new pit and have had great success with butts on it.
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