Ribs Too Tough? Help Needed!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by mgmsmoker, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. My good friend and fellow smoker had baby backs dialed in when he lived in California.  5 hours at 225 and wrapping in foil the last two hours.  Well I tried that and they came out too tough.  My wife and I are having a party at our house this Saturday, and I want to give ribs another try(also cooking butt, but I dialed that in).  I am thinking it could be altitude that is affecting my ribs?  I have done some research on the forum, and it seems pretty consistent, 2-2-1 for baby backs.  I was also told that it might be better to cook at 250 for 3 hours.  Which of these cooking times/temps should I give a go considering my location and weather outside?  Also, I smoked 2 weeks ago, and have leftover, soaked wood chips.  I have stored them in a ziplock over this time, will they be alright to use again this weekend?  Also, will I need to re-soak them? Thanks for the help!
  2. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Describe how you made the 2-2-1 ribs from start to finish please?

    How did you prep, how did you mop, how did you foil (did you spritz when you foiled), and finally, how did you finish the ribs for the last hour?

    That should help us get started on getting you some good tips.

  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    And are your therms reading correctly.... Check them in boiling water.....
  4. Thanks for the quick reply.  Initially I applied my "special" rub the night before.  Once my electric smoker reached 225, I put the ribs in for 2 hours, then wrapped them in foil for 2 more hours at 225.  I have read that it needs to be wrapped very tightly, and looking back, I just wrapped it loosely.  For the last hour I unwrapped and mopped my BBQ sauce periodically with a sauce brush.  After researching multiple posts, I have read that the ribs need to be placed on a certain side at certain times, is this true?  Also, I used hickory chips, soaked, and I did not spritz at all.  Where did I go wrong.  Thanks for the help!
  5. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    OK, here is how I do it, but first, let me agree with Dave; check the thermos!

    I slather my ribs (BBs and Spares) with yellow mustard, rub with my rub of choice, place bone side down into a CONFIRMED 225-250 degree pit, allow to smoke/cook for an hour, spritz with my spritz juice top and bottom (ACV, worchestershire sauce, whiskey, EVOO, and water), allow to go for another hour.

    After 2 hours for BBs, I place the ribs bone side down on the foil, spritz, and wrap them up loosely....  Allow to go for 1.5 hours, open up and make sure I'm not getting too tender, and then either pull from the foil, or wrap back up for a bit.

    For the last hour, I allow the ribs to sit in the pit bone side down (membrane area facing the grate) and roll along at 225-250....  No sauce is ever added to my ribs unless a guest specifically asks for it.

    IF sauce is requested, I add it the last 15 minutes of cook time so as not to scorch....

    I'd double check the therms, and if they check out, try the above and see what happens...  I have a couple of ribbons and a keg from winning comps with that exact procedure...  But, I never sauce...  I let the smoke and meat speak for itself.

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  6. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

     Did you remove the membrane?

    And always add some liquid (I use apple cider vinegar/apple juice) to the ribs when you foil.

     I'd try again. Possible you just got some tough meat.
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A trick when removing the membrane..... run the membrane under hot tap water for a minute or two... that softens the "glue" holding the membrane to the ribs... grab with paper towel and the membrane pulls right off... easy-peasy......

    noboundaries likes this.
  8. CrankyBuzzard - what is ACV that you use in your spritzer.  Also, how much of each item do you add?

    Flash - When you say add apple cider or apple juice, is that just added when wrapping in the foil?  Also, what type of wood chips do you use?
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  9. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I'm getting the idea you wrapped with no liquid. You need to go with something in the foil. A little honey, along with a sprinkle of brown sugar, plus some squeeze margerine on the meat.....and in the foil 2 or 3 Tbs of apple juice, beer, cola, whatever.
    And....on an electric, preheat 25 to 30 degrees over your cook temp cause when you add the meat the temp will drop a lot and may take quite some time to get back to where you want. You may want to not leave your rub on overnight. In some cases some of the ingredients in the rub can pull moisture out of the meat.
    And also, like others said, verify your temps and watch the meat coming out of the foil. You may not need 5 hours for bb's. You'll get there... just need to get it down.

    PS. what type of smoker r u using?
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  10. geerock - You are correct, I simply just wrapped and placed back in the smoker.  That could be what caused the issue last time.  The smoker I use is a 40in Masterbuilt. In my previous smokes, only 2 times, it seemed to heat well and maintain temp even when I opened the door.  Also, what is the best indicator of when the ribs are done?  Do I need to check IT of the meat, check by touch, or another way. Thanks for your help.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  11. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    The mes cookers are notorious for having controllers that are as much as 30 to 35 degrees off. I had one that I had to set at 210 to cook at 240 and a neighbor was just the opposite. He couldnt cook higher than 245 because at the max set temp of 275 all he could get was 245. Verify your temps with a maverick et732. Its a great tool to have....especially for the masterbuilt.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  12. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

     I usually spritz with a 50/50 mix of Apple Cider or Juice and Apple Cider Vinegar, but when I go to wrap I give them a good dousing.  No chips here, only chunks. Usually Pecan and Cherry or sometimes Oak and Cherry for my ribs.

  13. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That is a bit tough to answer because I don't know how you like your ribs. 3-2-1 is considered "overdone" by Pitmasters, but my wife loves to see that bone in the ribs just slide out. You basically want to see pull back of the meat on the bone in the neighborhood of 1/4 to 1/2 half inch. If you find the 3-2-1 ribs overdone and want more bite, then you want to reduce the 2nd stage some. "Less time in the foil". When I do that, I add the additional time to the first stage. More time in the smoke.
  14. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree with Flash...

    Depends on the preference of you and your target group.  I hardly ever do a true 3-2-1 since the ribs end up too tender for my liking.  I'm more of a 3-1.5-1 cooker.

  15. CrankyBuzzard

    Are you smoking the entire time?  Or do you smoke just the first hour or two?
  16. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It depends on the pit I'm using...  If I'm on the big horizontal (The Buzzard Burner) then yes I'm getting smoke the full time since it's a stick burner.  If' I'm on the vertical (The Bubba Burner) not so much.  The vertical is fed with lump charcoal and I add wood chunks to the maze I have in the fire box so the burning charcoal hits a chunk at regular intervals to provide smoke.  I only place chunks around the maze to the 3/4 point and get about 4 hours out of a full maze.

    Now, if I use my electric smokehouse (no name since the wife said I was getting to weird naming smokers) I only smoke for as long as my AMPS will go for, so yep, I smoke the entire time.  BUT, let me add this; I use light flavored pellets (no mesquite or hickory).  I also have a good airflow into my "smoke chamber" where the AMPS sits so I get a very thin blue smoke.

    Make sense?

  17. Yes, thanks for the help.  I am using cherry and hickory chips in my electric smoker, so I will probably just smoke the whole time.  Is it not a waste of chips to smoke while the ribs are in the foil?
  18. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yeah, one could call it a waste to burn chips, pellets, dust, or chunks while the ribs are in foil, but I have a owrk around for that....  I ALWAYS have something for next weeks lunch on the smoker when cooking ribs, brisket, etc...  Now, that's my excuse for being lazy. 

    In reality, while the ribs are in foil and the "wood" products are making smoke, use it to your advantage...  Smoke some eggs, nuts, veggies, etc...

    If all else fails, PM me when you get ready to cook next time and I'll pass along my phone number....  Then we can shine or fail together!  [​IMG]

  19. Haha sounds good.  Thanks for the help.
  20. I have one more question.  How much does elevation play when smoking meat?  I spoke with my friend who is a fellow smoker and he said that 5 hours it too long at this elevation(Atlanta, Ga).  He was thinking it would be better to smoke for about 3 hours at 250 or so.  Does this make sense?  I was planning on the 2-2-1 method and I just want to make sure I do this right.  Thanks.

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