Second attempt at baby backs on MES, HELP

Discussion in 'Pork' started by lowcountrygamecock, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. lowcountrygamecock

    lowcountrygamecock Smoke Blower

    I am going to attempt a second rack of baby back ribs on my MES this weekend. The first attempt was a disaster but most of, if not all of that was due to problems with my first masterbuilt smoker. The second unit so far has smoked like a champ so I hope this attempt will be better. Any tips for smoking baby backs on the MES? Time, temp, foil/no foil, type wood, rub etc are welcome. This may be the last time I get my wife's blessing on ribs if they don't turn out good.
  2. omnicef

    omnicef Newbie

    I gotta tell you, I just did the 3-2-1 method for the first time and they were the best ribs I have smoked yet.
  3. bman62526

    bman62526 Smoking Fanatic

  4. fourthwind

    fourthwind Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would use the 2-1-1 with foil method in the MES. Apple chips are my favorite in the MES for ribs. Less wood is better. Fill the wood channel and you can easily get too much smoke on the meat. For a rub I like this one. It's a good place to start, and you can change it to your taste.

    3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
    3 Tbsp Turbinado Sugar
    2 Tbsp Coarse Salt
    1 Tbsp Sweet Paprika
    1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
    ½ Tsp Cayenne Pepper
    1 Tsp Garlic Powder
    ½ Tsp Onion Powder
    ½ Tsp Ground Cumin
    ¼ Tsp Ground ginger

    A mop of Apple juice, and Honey will make for a sweet sticky outside. Use just apple juice if you dont like really sticky fingers [​IMG]

    Good luck. I have been there with the doubting wife. If she likes salmon PM me and I will send you a quick smoke salmon recipe that will win her over. It worked on my wife.
  5. werdwolf

    werdwolf Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I prefer spare ribs, just cause there's more meat and rib tips, but BBs turn out well.

    Watch the 2-2-1 as a recommendation. After foiling I usually only leave them on 20-30- min to firm up.

    Our hands down favorite rub is curious Aardvarks smoked with cherry.

    Feel free to PM me if you need further help.
  6. reichl

    reichl Meat Mopper

    oh man whatever you do don't give up on ribs. My MES pumps out better ribs than any BBQ joint I have ever eaten at. My MES runs a little hotter then it says, so I set it to 225 and use the 2-2-1 method for baby backs. Use a sweet rub and add a really small amount of smoke, the MES can easily smoke too much and turn your food to ash real quick. Good luck and don't give up.
  7. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would definetly use the 2-2-1 or the 2-1-1 for baby backs for sure and they will be just fine. The 3-2-1 is for spare ribs. I like apple wood for mine and spritz with apple juice and cidar vinagar
  8. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    As one MES owner above said his MES turns out better ribs than any BBQ joint he has been too. Well those that have ate my MES ribs would agree.

    1st stick to basics, don't get fancy until you know what your doing. So what are the basics.
    • Remove the tough membrane
    • Give the ribs a good dose of Rub, use a rub that is a known winner. Here is a recipe that I know works.
    I usually triple this recipe, so I don't have to make it each time I do ribs.
    • Give your ribs a good dusting, and massage into meat, don't over coat.
    • Wrap your ribs in plastic wrap and place in fridge over night.
    • When ready to smoke, give the ribs a light dusting of rub again, massage not necessary as the meat will be very sticky from the overnight in fridge.
    • Preheat your MES to 270, add, boiling water to water pan, and put ribs in MES. Make sure you exhaust vent is wide open, never adjust it.
    • Use a remote digital probe to monitor internal cabinet temp.
    • Set the Digital controller to 225 F. Personally I do a hard reset, (hard reset= turn digital controller off by pressing the on/off, then unplug from elect. outlet, replug cord, turn on MES and set temp and time). I do this because I have had problems 2 or 3 times with the MES just not heating after I reset temp to 225, since doing the hard resets I haven't had a problem.
    • Use hickory a known great wood for ribs.
    • Add your wood chips, dry or wet (I wet em), they will start smoking in less than 5 min. If you have chips start with 1/2 cup, until the smoke starts, then after 15 minutes add another 1/2 cup. If you have chunks and chips throw in a couple of chunks, I always start with both, and then go to chunks.
    • Monitor your smoke, you want thin blue, you will always start with a thicker white, but it should quickly settle into thin blue. If the smoke is dark then you have too much wood and you will run the risk of creosote a seriously bitter awful taste. You will learn the right amount of wood chips to add by paying attention.
    • 2 to 2.5 hours after starting your smoke crack the hatch and check for pullback. If there is 1/4 to 1/2"inch of meat pull back evenly among all the rib tips it is time to foil, If the pullback isn't to that stage continue cooking another 45 to 60 minutes, and check again.
    • Foiling, foil your ribs, I spray with apple juice, both sides, and 2-3 tbspoons extra in the bottom of the foil pouch, seal and put back in smoker. Depending pullback and flex test, I cook another 1 to 2 hours, this is a judgement call, if the rib rack are stiff when foiling or flex shows how tender they are at this stage, less tender the longer I will leave in smoker for this stage.
    • open foil and add baste with BBQ sauce. This is totally a preference option, we do the sauce, but I always leave a percentage of the racks dry. At this stage I usually finish on the grill basting with BBQ sauce on low heat, if your cooking has ribs already falling apart then finish in smoker for another 30 minutes (not sealed in foil), to give the ribs a nice glaze appearance.
    • Use a known winner for sauce. I use Cattlemans with a 3/1 honey.

    I do ribs several ways, but the above is simple and works. Others may disagree with timing and foil or not, sauce or not, but this has been working for me.
  9. lowcountrygamecock

    lowcountrygamecock Smoke Blower

    I smoked another rack yesterday and followed the instructions from above. Flavor was fantastic but they weren't fall off the bone tender like I like them. I lightly rubbed the ribs about an hour before they were ready to go in. Preheat the smoker to 275, did a hard reset as recommended and set the new smoker temp to 225. I put the ribs on a rib rack in the MES on the bottom rack. I checked them after two hours and there was a little pull back but not much. I foiled them at that point and let them go another two hours in a foil tent with a little white grape juice in the bottom. Pulled them from the foil tent and let them go for about 30 minutes un-sauced and finished them for the last 30 minutes with sauce on them. Like I said the flavor was really good but they weren't as tender as we like them. The very top of each rib was extremely tender but the closer you got to the bone it got tougher. So my question is, which step do I need to work on to get them more tender? I noticed before that the smoker temp runs about 20 degrees hotter than the display shows. And on top of that the ribs were right above the element. Could it be that the temp was too hot? Or do I need to let them go to a full 1/2 inch of pull back before I foil them? Or do I need to leave them in the foil longer? Anyway, good ribs but still need a little work. The wife liked them so that's promising. Any thoughts?
  10. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Your getting closer.

    Here are the changes I would consider.
    - Cook the ribs on top two racks. If you have to put meat on the bottom rack consider rotating it to another rack every other hour, since it really is the hottest area in the MES being so close to the heat element.

    - I said 2 hours but actually that is not accurate it is more like 2.5 - 3hrs in my MES . If the pullback isn't between 1/4-1/2" and you are not being rushed, then let em cook another hour and check again before foiling.

    Also before foiling do the flex test, 1st when the ribs are still uncooked, Using tongs, grab the rib rack from the wider end, about 1/3 into the rack, lift and notice how much the rack flexs. Remember this. Now when you test for flex before foiling do the same as above and notice if they rack feels loser and flexs more. After the foil cooking period, check for doneness by tearing a rib from the rack, if it tears away easily with a slight bit of tension it done. Really you want a bit of tension because you will be doing the last stage of glazing the ribs with sauce and they will get some more heat. Also when you do your test, if they are not tender, don't hesitate to reseal and cook another 30-60 minutes.

    How long to leave in the foil stage is a judgement call. If the pullback was 1/4" then longer, if the pullback was 1/2" then shorter. 1 to 1.5 hrs is a ballpark. Experience will get you dialed in with your cooker eventually.

    I have to ask, did you put boiling water in the water pan, or start with cold water? The boiling water goes in right before the meat, not when you start your preheat.

    BTW if you are only doing a single rack of ribs, they usually should cook faster than say 4 racks.

    Another thing a lot of us do, is allow another couple of hours. When done with foiling stage instead of opening, wrap another layer foil, now you can either put back in the smoker and set it to about 160 or wrap a layer of plastic wrap to seal, wrap with a towel and then put in ice chest and cover the dead air space. Either method the ribs will get tenderer during that 1.5 to 2 hour period. I have gone as long as 5 hours. I then take out and finish on the grill as mentioned in the orginal post.

    your on your way....
  11. lowcountrygamecock

    lowcountrygamecock Smoke Blower

    I put warm water in but not boiling. I'll try all these tips the next time and see what happens. Thanks for the advice.

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