What did I do wrong?

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Original poster
Jan 15, 2007
Ok... So I love BBQ and decided since I now live in the south, I better get smokin!!! I bought a nice little Char Broil smoker with the firebox on the side.

I tried the 3-2-1 recipie. I used a mix of apple and mesquite to smoke 2 racks of babybacks. I used a rub from a BBQ place I love.

So I did my best to maintain 225 throught the 6 hours (turned into 7.5, more on that soon). I used a remote meat thermometer to monitor the temp of the meat. The smoker has a built in Temp thermometer. Which I used to monitor the temp... I think this was my first mistake. The thermometer is on the top and only goes down 3-4 inches. So the meat and the end of the thermometer are 4-5 inches apart.

The problem is the meat never came to temperature. The hotest it got was 135. So after 7.5 hours I put them in the oven to finish up... I know.... I know... I should not have given up... But I had to eat...LOL

My new plan is to get a thermometer for the grill level. What else can I do?


Sounds like a bad therometer. I have long stem thermometer I just dangle in a small hole in the top of my ECB and it stays right on. I do my ribs bewtween 225 and 250. WHen I want to check the meat I have another short stemed thermometer I use. Don't have that fancy remote stuff.

i would get a thermometer to put at rack level; and test that thermometer before you mount it. get a pot of water boiling. hold the thermo so that the probe part is in the water, not touching the pot at all. it should read close to 212°, if not take it back and get another one. both of mine read 214° in boiling water- close enough for me. my meat thermo reads 206° in boiling water, close enough again. i just add 6° to my meat reading, and subtract 6° from my desired temp alarm. i have these wrote down in the back of my smoking log. i use a spiral notebook for that. i take it and a pen with me outside and keep it by the smoker while i am smoking. hope this helps.

edit: typos
I would say the same also on the thermometers. Im not that familiar with that model of grill. Is the stack on the top of the barrel for one. I know heat and smoke rises just wandering what that temp was on the grate. should have been hotter there since its closer to the fire. Im thinking not enough heat those should have been done around the 5 hr mark. Just my thought.

Above is the link for the smoker I have. It did work well in terms of the smoker flowing correctly and I had a nice thick smoke.

I will grab another thermometer and try again. I did throw some chicken on at a higher temp after I posted and it turned out great.

Thanks for all the help.
Nice thick smoke is not always a good thing. The best smoke you want to achieve is a almost clear blue tinted smoke that rolls out the vents. You dont really want big white cloudy pillows of smoke barrelling out. Try a search on this sometime. good luck. Some of the more "Seasoned" members might be able to explain this a liitle more in depth.
What did your babybacks look like? Were they super thick and meaty? Did you remove the membrane from the bottom side of them? Did you cook them bone down or bone up? Did the meat pull away from the end of the bone while cooking?

Most importantly, how did they taste?

7.5 hours seems extreme for any ribs, much less babybacks.
They looked great but were not pulling away from the bone. After I baked them to get them cooked more they were too strong. I understand the smoke thing and must have let mine get too smokey.

Tomorrow I am going to try again so wish me luck. I am headed to the BBQ store for a new thermometer today because both of the ones I was using were off very bad!

Wish me luck... I may need it
Sounds like there was a definite problem with heat inside your cooking chamber. The thermometer may show 225, but your results were more typical of a 175 degree smoke chamber.

Also as was mentioned above, you are looking for a thin whispy blue smoke, not a puffy white cloud. I also noticed that you used some Mesquite, personally I find Mesquite to strong for ribs. In fact, I find it to strong for anything but Fajita's I toss on the grill!!!

I would stick with milder woods (Oak or Pecan) until you get the heat control down on your new toy. Once you have the mechanics down, then you can experiment with stronger woods like Hickory or Mesquite.

Another question for ya, you were talking about using a meat thermometer on the ribs, I have never used a thermometer on my ribs and always just gone by look/feel. Where are you inserting the probe? Did you make sure to keep it away from the bones??

And one final comment, you stated that you baked the ribs and it made them "too strong", there should have been no more smoke going into the ribs once you took them off the smoker. The smoke flavor was already done. In fact, above a certain level, meat will not take on any more smoke flavor from the smoker. Not sure exactly what that level is for ribs since I never used a thermal probe on them.
Ok... I picked up some Pecan and new thermometer today. So I am ready.

I did not mean that the oven made them stonger, just too strong to begin with. I did not touch the bone with the meat thermometer. It just seemed off that they never came to temp, of course now I know why.

Starting around 10 tomorrow. I will let yall know how it goes. Thanks for the help.
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