Total Fail on Spares

Discussion in 'Pork' started by bigdlu75, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. bigdlu75

    bigdlu75 Newbie

    So yesterday I had a rack of ribs sitting around that needed to be smoked. I've been doing spares with the 3-2-1 for awhile with many successful cooks. Yesterday I decided I wanted to try a no wrap cook just to try something different.

    The ribs I ended up eating were way underdone and tough.

    I cooked the ribs for 6.5 hours at 225. As the cook went on it seemed to me that the ribs were looking dry frequently and so I spritzed every 20-30 minutes. I was shooting for an internal of 195 but have always struggled probing ribs for temp, and this was no different.

    1) Was the spritzing necessary? I know people spritz to prevent dryness, but I also know if you're looking you ain't cooking, and I'm assuming the amount of times I opened the lid negatively impacted the cook.

    2) How exactly do you do a good bend test, and when? I've tried to use it but have always been worried about the rack snapping in half after having that happen on my first go around. Yesterday based on the bend I had holding the rack in the middle, and based on time, I figured the collagens had to have melted, but they clearly didn't.

    Any thoughts from those who like a no wrap method?
  2. Oh man, I'm sorry to hear that! Of course family and friends will give you the thumbs up, but you know it sucks!

    I'm still trying to perfect my ribs, but I don't really follow a method other than hitting the right temperatures.

    What I've done is smoke them on the rack (Hickory wood) at 225 degrees until it reaches about 170-180 degrees. I spritz with an apple juice / apple cider mixture every 45 minutes. I use a good rub that has a smokey and sweet flavor. 

    The last time I did ribs, it took me about 3.5 hours to get to  170-180 degrees. I then wrapped them in foil with apple juice inside until they get between 190-200 degrees.

    At that time, I like to unwrap the and cover them in m own BBQ sauce and allow it to caramelize on the ribs.

    I don't twist, pull, toothpick, or any of that stuff. There's nothing wrong with those who do, I just found what works for me and my smoker!

    Remember, ribs are NOT supposed to fall off the bone...if they do, it's overcooked! 

    Good luck, and I hope this helps somewhat!
  3. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017
  4. bigdlu75

    bigdlu75 Newbie

    Yeah that's on my to-do list, but I really struggle to take a decent temperature with my probe and I've heard from many people that Ribs probe really inconsistently, so I think I'd struggle following that recipe. When I pulled my ribs yesterday they were probing at 175, and then the same spot an hour later was reading at 168. I've never been able to figure out getting a solid read on ribs.
  5. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    First the bend test-

    I grab the ribs on the thickest/largest end of the rack as far as my tongs will will go and lift, if they bend like this they are done IMHO. YMMV

    You have to get a feel for when to do the test, I suggest trying it first at 3 hours in and then every hour after to get a feel for it.

    On to #1- lose the spray bottle, your ribs were under cooked because you opened the pit 2-3 times per hour and bathed them in a cold liquid.

    If you must wet them during the cook use a mop and keep the liquid in the pit to keep it hot.

    Good luck.
  6. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I maintain a smoker temp between 225 and 250 for 4 hours without lifting the lid.  Then I will bend test, look for pull back on the bones, and lately, probe for IT of the ribs.  I might even sauce them at this point if they are done to my likeness.  I make sure to keep my smoker in that 225-250 range and they will be done between 4 and 5 hrs..

  7. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    You need a therm with a very thin needle for the probe.

    Then it's easy to get an accurate reading between the bones.

    Here's what I use

    They are inexpensive & work very well on ribs.

  8. bigdlu75

    bigdlu75 Newbie

    Thanks Al!

    I remembered noticing that in your Perfect Ribs post and asking about that but totally forgot, so I appreciate the tip.
  9. cksteele

    cksteele Smoking Fanatic

    idk i never go w temp with ribs  i always go by feel. wrapped  or unwrapped  pick up the rack in the middle  as you cook as it progresses  it will get looser  and start to flop  more. when its got a nice droop its usually ready, takes a little  practice but after a couple racks  you figure out what done feels  like and you're set.  also you can do the bone twist  if the bone is separating from the meat  its generally done. if you twist or tug on the ribs and the meat sticks to the bone still give it more time 
  10. zymer

    zymer Fire Starter

    I use the needle probes as well, but mainly as a guide to when to start testing for doneness.  From there I just go "by feel."  Because there can be so much difference among racks, there's really no hard-and-fast rule for when they're ready.  Just have to learn by experience.  Which means cooking lots of ribs.  Which ain't a bad thing at all.
  11. bigdlu75

    bigdlu75 Newbie

    Well finally had time to do another run, and once again, this forum has served as a great resource for helping me improve my BBQ. I let it go the first three hours without opening the lid. I sprayed at that point with warm apple juice. Then at a little over four hours I tested for doneness using first the bend test and then twisting bones. I glazed with BBQ sauce and then pulled after 4:45 cook time. The bite was perfect, and they were much more tender than last time. Haven't figured out if I prefer wrapped or unwrapped, but I definitely enjoyed eating these way more than the last rack.

    Thanks to everyone who helped me improve my smoking!

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
    phatbac, cliffcarter and ravage811 like this.
  12. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    Good looking Q!


    phatbac (Aaron)
  13. ravage811

    ravage811 Fire Starter

    The ThermoPop and the Thermal Pen work wonders for getting temps on ribs. Also if you are in the market for a thermometer, the smoke actually has a small probe that will fit between the bones also. The probe runs $16 and can be found on the site...

    Other than that I agree with everyone try the bend test out and get a fill for it. 

    Good luck and points for those ribs they sure do look good. 
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
  14. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member


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