Tough ribs

Discussion in 'Pork' started by royal blue smoke, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. My last few racks of baby back ribs have ended up much tougher than I would like (I like the meat to fall off the bone). I have been using the 2-2-1 method without success. My meat thermometor says the ribs reach the 172 degree mark much faster than I would think. I have been pulling the ribs out when they reach 172. Do I need to leave them in longer to get them more tender, or will that just make them even tougher? Do I need to cut back on how much dry rub I am using? (I put a coating of Mustard on after I remove the membrane.) Do I need to switch to pork spare ribs to get them tender? Any help is very much appreciated.
  2. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Well lets look at some of the obvious things that may get overlooked. First, what temp is your smoker at? And, is that temp accurate? Is the therm for your smoker correct? How about the therm you use for taking temps of meat? Accurate? The 2-2-1 is a good go by when doing them, but if you want more tender, try 2-2-1/2. The middle number as you know is the foil time, where they become tender, and the last number is going to toughen them up somewhat so cut back on the last number. Are you foiling after the smoke is all done and letting them rest a bit? Everything you stated says you are doing them correctly, so I am thinking the temps are off? Your use of mustard and rub won't have a effect of the toughness of them so don't worry about that.
  3. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Holy smokes, I just realized that was your first post. You gotta stop by roll call and give all of us a proper introduction. Name, where your from, how long smoking and so on. If the moderators find out I gave you info before you stopped by roll call, they will fine me. Ok, I made that part up LOL, but stop by there so the members here can say hi and know your here.[​IMG]
  4. grampyskids

    grampyskids Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I hope that you are not relying on the therm on your smoker. Mine is off by 50 degrees. It sounds like your temp in the smoker is way to high. This would cause the ribs to be tough and would account for the short cooking time. There is no correlation between rubs and temp. As a quick check, go to a dept. or harware store and pick up an oven thermometer. Hang it from the middle rack and this will get help you to get to the 220 or so that you need.
  5. reichl

    reichl Meat Mopper

    If you are cooking babybacks, you should also look at the amount of pullback the meat has from the bone. I don't take my bb's off the smoker until I have a 1/4" bone showing on the sides. Also, when I lift them with tongs, they should have a good bend to them. If you want them to be more tender, just foil them longer and check them before you take them off. And like meat hunter said, check your smoker temps.
  6. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    to add to what has been said, do not try to read the internal temps of ribs. It is just too hard with the bones being so close together. It just would not be accurate. Stay with your times. I prefer 4 to 4 1/2 hours for baby backs.
  7. I don't want to get anyone in trouble, so I'll go over and introduce myself in roll call...[​IMG]

    I do wrap my ribs in foil for the second 2 hours (I have even tried wrapping in plastic wrap and foil to get them extra tender). I have been using the temperature gauge on the grill, and have been smoking at 200-225 degrees. If the meat thermometor says 172 but there isn't enough pullback from the bones, should I keep them on a little longer? I noticed the newsletter for December said 172 AND the right amount of pullback.

    By the way, I use a Char grill smokin pro BBQ. I keep the smoke pretty steady for the first few hours (either mesquite or hickory)
  8. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree with theses guys here too I think it's your thermometer is off. That is the first thing is either change/ replace or have a good thermometer probe unit and check your smoker's temp with that and then smoke some more ribs and see what happens then.
  9. cheapchalee

    cheapchalee Smoking Fanatic

    Sounds like the temps are off a little or you have the ribs place in a hot spot. You might try moving the ribs as far away from the heat source as possible. Sounds like they are just cooking to fast (or not fast enough). What do they look like before you foil them. I normally don't foil my ribs, just rotate them around the heat source, normally I use the full rack as most of the time the shops over here only do full size or cut them in 2-3 inch strips to make them bite size.

  10. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Like Flash said, do not use a meat thermometer on ribs. Ribs are more of a look and feel sort of thing -- probably the ONLY thing cooked to look and feel instead of temp.

    I would suggest bumping your smoker temp up above 235°. I smoke ribs in the 240 to 260 range with great success. 2-2-1 at these temps shoud give you fall off the bone ribs. I personally like mine to have a little tug so I cut down on the middle number.

    A good way to check for doneness is the "bend test". Grab the rack with a pair of tongs in the middle and lift them off the grate. If they bend in the middle to almost 90° then they're done.

    Pull back is also a good indicator. In this picture you can see a difference in pull back between the ribs at the top and the ribs at the bottom.

    The ribs at the top were slightly smaller than the other ribs and cooked a little faster. They were much more tender than the ones on the bottom. They were both very good, but the ones on the bottom could have used a bit more time to get tender.

    Incidentally, these were cooked on the drum smoker in my avatar at around 240ish and above for about 2-1.75-1.

    Hope this helps.

  11. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Royal Blue these guys know what they are talking about so I would take their suggestions and check out your temps. If your temps are right you should get some great tender meat. 2-2-1 works great for me on BB's.

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