Once You Go Lumberjack

Why is my meat so dry and hard?

Discussion in 'The Smokehouse' started by BDF, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. BDF

    BDF

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    Easy Boys! Not that kind of a thread.....

    First of all, I do not have a smoker, only a gas grill for outside cooking. Color me handicapped.

    But I did get a new grill recently, and this one has baffles between the heating sections. So I though I might be able to use the grill as a poor man's smoker, kinda', by putting the meat way over on one side and just using the heating pipe way over on the opposite side. Set it up with a thermometer and got the 'meat side' to 250F. Put some oak in aluminum foil and placed that directly over the hot gas pipe. After a while, the porch, yard and visible parts of the neighborhood are covered in smoke (good, right?) and the meat is turning pink / brown. I let this go for about six hours and the meat is showing a really nice smoke ring, has excellent flavor but it like a rock.... only harder. ?? Dry as a bone too.

    The meat was boneless spare ribs, pretty lean, each rib separate (not a rack), and laid out on the grill.

    So where did it all go wrong? Need meat with more fat? Do I need a pot of water in there to add steam? Do I need a real smoker? If yes to that last one, anybody make a cheap smoker that works OK?

    Brian
     
  2. scavenger

    scavenger

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    I thought my ex-husband was the only one who could dry out a perfectly good piece of meat....don't ask me I own a hibachi ....:grizz:
     
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  3. Highbeam

    Highbeam

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    I think we call those "country style ribs" here in the NW. We ate them a lot growing up. Would boil them and then put them on the grill with sauce. Not really a BBQ cut for us.
     
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  4. VOLKEVIN

    VOLKEVIN

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    A water pan in the grill would help for moisture purposes, for sure. I have a couple other thoughts too- the first is that you left boneless spare ribs on there for 6 hours, uncovered and no moisture. More than likely they were on for 90-120 minutes too long, getting way too dried out and therefore very tough.
    Two suggestions for next time- inject a little apple juice into your pork, it adds needed moisture and adds a very mild sweet flavor to the meat. Next- start with your smoker at about 325 and put your ribs on, uncovered for about 30 mins. Then, drop your heat to 225 and cook for an hour and a half. Next, take your ribs off and wrap them in aluminum foil after you put a strip of squeeze butter (yes, use the actual squeeze butter) on them, and pour an ounce of apple juice in the bottom of the foil. Put them back on to finish smoking for about 2.5 more hours. The butter adds a flavor, the apple juice adds moisture, and they should come out with a better texture. Hope that helps!

    As far as a cheap smoker, you can't go wrong with the tried and true barrel design, and you can pick them up cheap at the store, or watch Craigslist. Someone's bound to offer one for next to nothing.
     
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  5. BDF

    BDF

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    Yep, it helps. And unfortunately, it tells me that the 'throw the meat in there and close the lid' for an all- day, hands- off trip is not going to happen. Not what I really wanted to hear of course but hey, at least it stops me from trying it over and over again. :)

    I may poke around and look for a cheap smoker.... again.

    Thanks,
    Brian

     
  6. VOLKEVIN

    VOLKEVIN

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    Ribs are a little harder to "set and forget," because they are thinner pieces of meat. If you want a true leave-it-til-it's-done meal, go for a pork shoulder (Boston Butt). Same preparation, with an apple juice injection and whatever spice rub you want (include some brown sugar so it caramelize and locks in the flavor and gives you a nice crust); place it in your grill away from the flame, fat side UP, big metal pan with water for moisture near the heat, 350 for 30 mins, then drop it to 225 and cook it for an hour per pound. It'll be on there about 8-12 hours depending on weight, and it will turn out fantastic!
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
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  7. BigPapi

    BigPapi

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    Sounds like the meat was simply over cooked. At 250 those "country style spare ribs" as they are also labelled up here probably want more like three hours. Temperature is how to figure it out - that cut, in my experience, does not need to get much over a safe internal temperature (165 if you're being very cautious) to be tender.

    Also a word on smoke, you want your smoke to go through it's initial "clouds of smoke" stage before you put the meat on. During the cook, a thin steady smoke is better to prevent the meat having an acrid, burnt taste. One man's opinion, your mileage may vary, etc.

    -edit- purists will crucify you for using a gas grill for 'cue, but sometimes you gotta use what you have. Don't let them stop you from enjoying the process and results. :)
     
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  8. BDF

    BDF

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    Yeah, and these were very lean cuts. The ribs I have seen slow cooked are usually very fatty cuts, which takes a long time to render and run off.

    The whole thing was probably a fool's errand but there I was, with dead pig, a heat source that would run very low, and bad thinking..... the start of so many ill conceived results. :)

     
  9. BDF

    BDF

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    Well, this is a pretty good crowd and I do not expect any abuse over using 'less than the best or even correct' implements. As I said, I have a grill, not a smoker and so I was just twiddling around. The reason I posted in the first place is because it amazed me how dry and hard these things came out, and I have seen ribs smoked for hours and hot do that. But then again, those long- smoked ribs were very fatty and that probably makes all the difference. These ribs (and yes, as posters have mentioned, they were country ribs) were no more fatty than those lean pork cutlets found all over the place. In fact, they were more lean because cutlets usually have a thin fat ring around the outside while these ribs had no visible fat.

    Brian

     
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  10. BHags

    BHags

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    If you want a reasonably priced and more useful unit to smoke with, get a Weber Kettle Grill. I grill and smoke on those all year round. I have a barrel smoker that I've used only a couple times and now it just sits there. I've also been cutting meat for 37 years or so. Use a whole rack of ribs when smoking. Cut it in two if you like, but not into ribs. One more tip....when smoking anything, fat is your friend!
     
  11. XXL

    XXL

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    I did a couple racks of back ribs on my gas bbq at the cottage yesterday and basically did the low and slow 3-2-1 method after removing the silver skin and adding a little bone dust dry rub. 3 hours on the top rack with a little smoke, 2 hours wrapped in tinfoil (helps retain moisture), and then 1 hour of finishing on the grill with sauce.

    If your ribs were pre cut, it sounds like the portions were small and therefore easily cooked and then overcooked to become dry.

    If you don't already have one, get yourself a small digital meat thermometer or three. One of best investments when cooking meat... IMHO.
     
  12. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl

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    Been using the Weber for all of my smoking and it works great. Add a Smoke 'n Sear to it and it makes it easy to do.
     
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  13. BigPapi

    BigPapi

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    A lean cut needs a lot less time. The fat and connective tissue in ribs, brisket, butt etc take a long time to break down and get tender, and NEED to be done low and slow. I love to smoke chops, loin, even chicken, but their meat is lean and needs much less time to hit its lower ideal serving temperature.

    Something I like to do is take a whole pork loin when it goes on sale, knock it in half for convenience, season and inject (I inject with Guinness and apple juice) then wrap it in bacon and into the smoker for a few hours. I pull it at 155 and let it set for a half hour, by then it will hit 165. Great dish, and forgiving of temperature swings - just keep an eye on the internal temp so as not to over cook and dry it out. It's a great dish, and the leftovers are fantastic sliced thin and fried to put on an egg sandwich in the morning.
     
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