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Why do my ribs suck!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by nomnomnom, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. nomnomnom

    nomnomnom Fire Starter

    I'm currently using a Weber OTG. I use one weber coal holder with two bricks to separate the heat. I also foil the bottom grate so the air flow has to come up thru the coal holder and around to hit the meat. I try to keep the temp on the dome thermometer around 275-300 because I know they are usually not very accurate to what the grate temp is.

    Ok, so I have ran 5 racks thru and only one came out good. The one that succeeded was a smaller rack and the 4 that have failed have been heavier racks. I do the 2-2-1 method. Tonight's came out pretty crappy. The line of fat that goes down the middle was still present and the meat was way too much of a tug. They were in there for a bit over 5 hours.....the only thing I can think of is that they are undercooked and the temp is not even close to what it is reading.

    Should the bone be more than say 1/4 inch exposed? Because only 3-4 bones were that way, the rest of em were still not receded.
  2. JckDanls 07

    JckDanls 07 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    yep... all signs point to under cooked.... ya really do need to invest in a good thermometer... also thinking you need to do away with the foil deal ya got going on.... the weber's work great without all the added extras....
  3. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What kind of ribs, 2-2-1 is for baby back ribs, 3-2-1 is for st louis cut ribs. I am guessing here but sounds like you hat st louis ribs and they were undercooked
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    2-2-1 is only for Baby Back Ribs. If you are using large racks of Spare Ribs, 5 hours is not enough unless you are truely at 275°F+/-. Many go by how much pull back there is but I have had fully cooked fall of the bone ribs with very little bone showing. A better test is to pick up a rack from the end, 3-4 bones in with a pair of tongs. The rest of the rack should bend 90° and the meat should split and crack. Additionally a toothpick should penetrate the meat easily. You really should get a Thermometer that has a probe that can be placed on the rack with the meat. That way you now exactly where you are at. The MAVERICK 732 is a great therm for the job, has two probes, one for the smoker temp and one for meat temp. You also get a remote monitoring receiver. As it gets colder that is a nice feature. You can get them here...http://www.amazenproducts.com. Todd is a member and has the best customer service of any company I have dealt with...JJ
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  5. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One more thing to realize, fall is in the air and ambient temperatures where I live are as much as 25 degrees less than two weeks ago. If you are further north it would even even more predominant.

    Where you might have used a 2 2 1 a few weeks ago, now you'll need more heat 3 2 1 now because of the larger radiant drain upon the pit. Temp and windage are large factors.  Add elevation and you'll be a marksman....LOL unless you live in Colo.

    You need to see a nice pull back on the meat from the bone, and try the break over test. Pick 'em up with tongs and see if the meat starts to break where the flop over.

    To quote a wizened old veteran, "Patience"

    It'll get better....
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  6. miamirick

    miamirick Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Practice, practice practice. You'll gat a feel for them when they are done or need to cook longer, sometimes you need to do first leg longer if they are real meaty then foil for longer But you'll get it after a few more try's. Keep a toothpick handy and insert it when you think it's done if it slides in and out easy then they are ready.
  7. nomnomnom

    nomnomnom Fire Starter

    They were baby backs. They were just super meaty and thick. I guess my only concern was "cooking too long" then having dry meat. Ribs seem like a game of too much of this not enough of that and vice versa. Its a tricky game so far. Maybe I should get rid of all the foil and stuff. I was just trying to protect from too much direct heat. Do you all think I should use the two bricks to help deflect the heat or just say the heck with those and just use the coal holders? I know they are smaller but I don't mind refueling them every hour instead of just banking a big pile of coal on one side. Maybe I should just cook hot dogs!!!!!!!! hehe
  8. Like most of the others have already stated. It's a matter of Temperature and time . You need to know the temp.. It would probably be a good idea to invest in a maverick or some other dependable thermometer it will eliminate the uncertainty of temp. Then it is only a matter of time. To quote others on this forum "it's not done till it's done".
  9. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Jimmy nailed it.

    I don't go by pullback because its not a true indicator of finished ribs.

    Pull back is more extreme when foiling as opposed to no foiling and the more fat, the more pullback.
    • No foil

    • foiled

    • And I strongly suggest practicing the bend technique as Jimmy mentions in his post.
    • Not done
    • Almost There
    • Done, the meat will start to crack at the 90° bend, at this point they are done!

    I only use time as a guide, the bend test has the final say, if the ribs were on 4.5 hours and I get the bend pictured above... they are done!
    flyboys likes this.
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    YOU DA MAN SQWIB!!!!....Nice pics and as always thanks for you support and sharing info...JJ
  11. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wow I never really noticed that difference between foiling and not foiling. 'Course I have only foiled a couple.
  12. nomnomnom

    nomnomnom Fire Starter

    I threw a regular ol stove thermometer in the grill today after I did steaks just to see the grate temp to the dome temp. When it was 400 on the dome the grate said 350. But when it was at 150 they matched. GAHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I guess I should just buy a good one huh.
  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Get the MAV 732. It's going to get COLD in Ohio and you will appreciate sitting in the warm house while your meat does it's thing with Snow falling...JJ
  14. yardbird

    yardbird Meat Mopper

    +1 for the Maverick 732. I bought one and found my door temp gauge was off by 50 degrees. Smoke hollow sent me another one, but I never trusted it again. I might pick up a second 732. I find I often have more than one thing in the smoker and sometimes they get done at different times depending on where they are or whether or not they feel loved or something. A second meat probe would be nice.

    Hmmm.... I wonder if I can stick a meat probe in the "BBQ" port of the second maverick and have 3 meat probes....

    Anyways.... you REALLY need to know what your temps are and an accurate thermometer is a must.
  15. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Also, keep a logbook for all your smokes - something as simple as a spiral notebook, or use one for each type of meat.  Date it, list time of day, ambient temp, what you did, what you changed and outcome, and notes for next time.  Plus anything else that seems relevant.  Keep it simple but accurate.  You will learn how to diagnose your 'mistakes' (just remember, that's the best part, try and try again!) [​IMG]
  16. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yardbird, I asked Todd a couple years ago about a Meat Probe in the BBQ port and he said it works fine. He sells extra probes at a good price...JJ
  17. A good thermometer and a log book were the 2 best things I had when I first started. Well said Pops
  18. I agree with Pops on the log book. I record every smoke, including times, temperature, what I used for rub/inject/brine and each step such as foiling and how long the meat site in the cooler.

    Also get yourself a Maverick 732 or the like, it makes a world of difference, you'll be better off knowing the grill temp and have better control over your smoke. ~Joe
  19. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I know several people have said the same thing, Check your temp gauge to make sure you are cooking at what you think you are. I have said many time the 3-2-1  and the 2-2-1 cooking method is a good rule of thumb and place to start. The bend test and pullback you know exactly how your ribs are doing. I cooked brisket and ribs last Thursday used the 3-2-1 on Medium Spares  but it was actually 3-2 and about 30 min. One thing I tell people is get to know your smoker, its hot spots, cold spots and heat holding and fluctuating. I have been BBQing for over 35 years and can pretty much tell by looks and feel if they are done. I check my temp gauge several time a year by sticking the probe or stem into boiling water to make sure it is reading correctly. Don't get frustrated you'll get it figured out, Lord knows how many time my early cooks weren't up to par.

    nomnomnom likes this.
  20. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    The great untold secret to cooking ribs is...size matters. I find that 2.5-2.75 pound racks of BB's will cook in the requisite 5 hours of the 2-2-1 method, 3 pounds and more will take longer.

    And as Sqwib said use the bend test to check for doneness.