Smoking Pork Ribs in Wood Fired Pizza Oven

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capecook

Newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2024
4
8
Hello. I'm "trying" to smoke a rack of pork ribs in my brick oven. 2nd attempt and both times the ribs came out with a dark black coating. Under the black outer coating the meat actually tasted very good.... but I'm trying to determine why the outer coating turned black. I'm using a brown sugar based rub (based on the 12 Bones rub, brown sugar mixed with numerous spices and herbs). The oven temp is around 280 to 300 F. The smoke is provided by wet cherry wood that is placed in a charcoal chimney (with fired "cowboy charcoal"). The chimney is on one side of the oven and the ribs are on an elevated grill, other side of the oven with a pan of water under the grill. Ribs cooked for about 2.5 hours. I'm thinking the brown sugar is burning (where I think the intent is that it's supposed to caramelize). The ribs are not wrapped. Could I be putting too much rub on and it is blackening and not caramelizing? Looking for any thoughts, suggestions, etc. Thanks very much for the help. A couple of photos attached.
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I’d suspect your temp is much higher than you think. Are you using anything other than the stock thermometer to monitor temp? I know you used a rub with sugar but that isn’t the issue. That’s not bark those ribs are burned to a crisp.
 
thanks very much for the replies. I use an IR thermometer and readings at various spots to get an average temp. I realize I'm just hitting "surfaces" to get a general temp but you are probably correct in that the ambient temp is higher than I think it is. I have to figure out a way to create the smoke in the vestibule of the oven and not in the oven itself. That way I can introduce the smoke but not any additional heat. Thanks again. Here's a couple of pix of my oven.
 

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Agreed, what are we using to monitor temp and where is it located? The only time I've been able to "caramelize" ribs is with a sauce on them and quick flips over a very hot charcoal grill.
 
thanks very much for the replies. I use an IR thermometer and readings at various spots to get an average temp. I realize I'm just hitting "surfaces" to get a general temp but you are probably correct in that the ambient temp is higher than I think it is. I have to figure out a way to create the smoke in the vestibule of the oven and not in the oven itself. That way I can introduce the smoke but not any additional heat. Thanks again. Here's a couple of pix of my oven.
Great looking oven! Perhaps just using a pellet tube or tray for the smoke. You already have a heat source with oven...You just need to add the smoke.

edit: What is your heat source for the oven? Gas? Wood?

Jim
 
You could try less or no sugar. Your original method then wrapping after an hour or two. Or try individual ribs aka vortex ribs. I'm sure the hot dome preforms similar to a vortex and kettle combo.
 
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Thanks again for the replies and help. My oven is heated with wood, mostly oak and maple. It's well insulated so when the fire is started in about 3 hours the temp will get up to about 1,000 degrees and then a small fire is kept and the temp will equalize at around 650 (the firebricks holding the heat very efficiently). I then make pizza. The next day the temps are around 350 to 400 and good for cooking chicken or fish. But then on the third day the temp is around 200 to 250 which I figure is good for ribs which is what I'm experimenting with now. My dilemma with this past cook is creating a small fire to create the smoke which winds up bumping the temps back up to over 300. So my thought is to build the small fire to create the smoke in the entryway so the heat doesn't really enter the oven part so much and hopefully the smoke would find its way into the oven. Trial and error at this point, but thanks again for the help.
 
OP here..... just wanted to follow up. I cooked pork ribs again with a better outcome. I built the fire in the entryway of the oven closing off the very front opening. So using less heat (around 250 degrees) and less smoke. Cooked ribs for about 4 hours. Probably could have gone 5. Used the same brown sugar recipe for the rub. They turned out great. Big difference from the initial attempt. Thank you again for all the suggestions and help.
 

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