Ribs: Time vsTemp

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Original poster
Jul 5, 2009
So after a long period smoking slumber, I'm plan to fire up the old SNP this weekend, and I'm planning my meat selection, and my local butcher has some great deals on a wide variety of ribs.  And while I've tried various adaptations of "3-2-1", I am unable to produce consistent results.

While I'm sure some of the blame lies within the chef, I know part of it falls on my equipment. My mods are limited to a lowered chimney pipe and a charcoal basket of sorts. I can generally hold temps, but the wind sure can give me a run for my money. 

When I was a young smoker roaming the halls of SMF, I quickly accepted the mantra of "Cook to Temp, Not Time", so following that 

I've smoked several overnight briskets, all-day pork butts, fatties, and various incarnations of chicken and found the results delectable. And more importantly, I can produce consistent results; when I cook to temp.

So I ask why is that most rib threads refer to timing methods instead of temp?

I can think of various 'reasons', but don't know if they are valid:

1. Too much varriance in temp from one end to the other?

2. Inserting and removing probes dry meat out?

3. Too difficult to stay away from the bone?

4. ????

I'd even be happy with just knowing a good "Stage 1" temp for various ribs; ie "smoke to 160, then foil for 1.5hrs...", or any guidance for that matter...
Particular cuts of meat cook differently depending on if you're cooking for a) time or b) temp. An example as you have already guessed, would be brisket. 195-200 for pulling, 205 for slicing (no i'm not quoting actual temps, i'm just throwing those out there as an example as I cook Brisket via high heat for 4 hours and it's done, different cut of meat but same concept). Doesn't matter how long it takes to get to that temp, those are the ideal temps you want to aim for.

When it comes to ribs, I follow the Legendary Mike Mills method, not as a mantra but more as a religion:

1. 210 degrees

2. 5.5 hours

That's the skinny of it. I've produced consistent results time after time keeping these two items in check. Take that for what it's worth. I have played with the temperature part of the equation and as long as the time portion doesn't change, the results are still very consistent. Research my rib primer I posted about 2 years ago after talking directly with Mike Mills, it'll explain what exactly to expect.
Most of us don't try to probe ribs because it's hard to stay far enough away from the bone to get accurate readings
Most of us don't try to probe ribs because it's hard to stay far enough away from the bone to get accurate readings

 :I'm with Stupid:
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