Inconsistent ribs

Discussion in 'The Smokehouse' started by BDF, Mar 5, 2020.

  1. BDF

    BDF

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    I have smoked a lot of ribs on my Camp Chef smoker and the results are really all over the place. Sometimes good, sometimes excellent, sometimes disappointing. And I have not been able to find method which will yield predictable results. I have tried the 3-2-1 method and they come out like mush, so soft they are impossible to cut- they just 'smush' under the knife (and yep, my knives are sharp). I have tried unwrapped cooking to 200F or so, sometimes that is OK but often the ribs are dry and chewy.

    Tripped over a new (new to me anyway) method and it seems to work fantastic! At 225, smoke the ribs until they hit a temp. of 170F in the thickest part, between the bones, about 2 1/2 hours or so. Then wrap and cook, still at 225, until the thickest meat hits 200F (this is only about 40 minutes or so). Then again cook unwrapped for about 35 minutes.

    This gives great bark, some bite but a tender and juicy set of ribs. And it seems repeatable, at least a few racks into the trial.

    The other thing that helps is that my smoker runs about 30F warmer than it is set for, and the temp. rises as the ribs cook. I assume this is due to less and less water vaporizing out of the ribs. But to kinda' compensate, I turn the smoker down to 200F when they get wrapped.

    I know it is sacrilege to some to use thermometers but honestly, they improve both my smoking and grilling hugely. No doubt others are more skilled and can do an even better job without them but it is a crutch I find useful enough to have actually grown pretty dependent on.

    Brian
     
  2. Chaz

    Chaz

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    If it helps make a great rack o' ribs, carry on sir.
    :salute:

    But, is it just me, or are we missing something here?
    :binoculars:

    :doh:

    ;):D
     
  3. DaveGunter

    DaveGunter

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    Are you using the same cut every time? Same brand or from a butcher?
     
  4. TurboDiesel

    TurboDiesel

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    You mean...like...a pic?:whistle:
     
  5. BDF

    BDF

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    Did not take any photos when they were done. And you do not want photos of them now. :faint::hair::bug:


     
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  6. BDF

    BDF

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    No, and I am sure that is part of the problem. No local butchers around here that I have found. Well, there are a couple some distance away but honestly, I would not go there without body armor and two well- armed friends.... seriously.

    Virtually all the meat available locally has been brined so none of it is 'fresh' really. Aldi's sells excellent ribs, both St. Louis as well as baby backs but they are often out of stock. A small local (and expensive) grocer has the best ones I have found yet, not sure if they are brined but I suspect they are not, and they are IBP brand (or very similar). They do not carry a ingredients list so I suspect they just may be fresh ribs. ??

    Aldi's has fantastic pork butt but again, very spotty on having it in stock. Walmart has decent to very good pork butt as well as very good brisket if you are careful and selective when picking out a piece. Often there is not a slab of brisket I even want but occasionally some are really amazingly good for coming out of Wally World.

    No Sams in the area but thinking about taking a look at what BJ's has for meat for smoking.

    I have looked on-line but frankly not willing to pay the prices of the products I have found, especially without knowing in advance that they are fantastic. Maybe not willing even then :) If I pay steak prices, I can actually eat steak, which I like very much, and often cook it over a high- temp. pellet fire with great results.

    This whole smoking thing is a HUGE learning curve and I am in the middle of it. OK, I am at the beginning of it. But without years of learning and using multiple smoking setups (I only have a pellet smoker), I do not think 'Pit Master' is in my future. So I am just shooting for 'reasonably good to very good' but I would like to have a little more confidence in knowing that ribs will come out that way in advance. BTW, not much of any problems with brisket or pork butt- they are far more consistent and we have really liked every single one so far. It is the ribs that are all over the place.

    Brian

     
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  7. BHags

    BHags

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    IBP or any other cry o vac ribs are not brined, but may have been frozen. if they don't have ingredient labels, then technically there should be no other ingredients other than pork. I see you're in RI. Millbury Ma. is not far north of you. We carry boneless pork butts, and ribs all the time. Also choice briskets, at reasonable prices. Let me know if you want to take a ride, and I can let you know what's on sale that week.
     
  8. Eric VW

    Eric VW Moderator

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    Awesome show of FHC ‘ness. :salute:
     
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  9. Eric VW

    Eric VW Moderator

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    I sure am glad there’s no utmost professional BBQ guys jumping on your thread BDF ...
    I for one have never done ribs on my smoker, but I am appreciative of you sharing your experience. :handshake:
     
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  10. The Wood Wolverine

    The Wood Wolverine

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    321 works great on the right size rack. It all comes down to the size of your ribs. When I get smaller racks, I adjust time. 2-1-1, 2-1 :45 etc. I've never used a thermometer on ribs.
    At any rate, sounds like you have a good handle on it. Keep doing what works for you. Only thing we ask for is... pics! :yes:
    :ithappened::ithappened:
     
  11. BDF

    BDF

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    Excellent, thanks! I will contact you via PM and see where you are and may take a ride up there.

    This is the part where Sheriff Brody might say: 'We're gonna' need a bigger freezer' or similar. :rofl: :lol:

    Brian

     
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  12. BDF

    BDF

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    Generally, this is a pretty kind 'n gentle forum and so I do not expect people to get their skivvies in a twist over 'divine BBQ'ing'. And I really tried to make it clear that I am just a weekend hack, not looking for anything even close to competition grade. That said, even a lousy smoker can get better so that is why I posted about it and got some great responses.

    BTW- cooked some ribeye steaks on the smoker yesterday, though in grilling mode, and as usual they came out great. The Camp Chef does get hot enough to sear and very well brown meat, which is a nice plus for a smoker, at least IMO. Today I think it will be garlic potatoes- big pieces of Yukon gold potatoes, 1/4'ed onions, olive oil and lots of McCormick garlic and herb seasoning. Cooked in a perforated metal pan, they half- grill and half- bake and we like them a lot. Best part is all the smoke, slop and drippings are outside in the smoker, not in the oven :)

    Brian

     
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  13. The Wood Wolverine

    The Wood Wolverine

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    Sounds good.
     
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  14. MikeSs

    MikeSs

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    Get a good instant read thermometer and something for leaving in while cooking.
    I just recently bought a thermoworks and love it.
    Have a Thermopro TP08 2 channel as well.
    Personally, I dont think the "pros" would go without them.
     
  15. BDF

    BDF

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    I have a six- channel, WIFI device and use it. Monitoring temps. is no problem. Also have over / under temp. alarms, a data logger that shows the temp. in a curve over time and several other features. What it does not have is a setting for 'the ribs are good right now'. That is in my hands and it is elusive..... :)

    Off to the grocery store tonight so may pick up something else to continue the burni.... er, learning curve with.

    Brian

     
  16. Eckie

    Eckie

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    Thermometer!?!? SACRILEGE!

    Hahaha just messing with you! Hey if it works, do it!

    Ever cooked ribs that turned out hammy? Now that is a T-total let down and will put you in a bad mood.
     
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  17. BDF

    BDF

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    After a lot of extensive testing (perhaps two belt size 'adjustments' :rofl: :lol: ) I can now consistently make ribs come out the way I intend. One of the things I was not doing correctly was putting sometimes already slightly overdone ribs back on the smoker after wrapping, and not letting them rest for a bit before attacking them with a knife. After the wrapping, they do tend to be mushy but some time back on the smoker uncovered as well as a bit of resting goes a long way to firm them back up. I still prefer to cook by temperature rather than feel but now I can get to an acceptable point, usually even a great place every time.
     
  18. Chaz

    Chaz

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    BDF
    Brian, what model of Camp Chef do you have?

    I've tossed the idea around in my head to get a decent pellet smoker.

    I currently use a Brinkman offset smoker, and it's going on 10 yrs old. (Similar grill pictured)

    Screenshot_20200706-134341~2.png


    I've done OK with it, but good temp control is something that has eluded me this whole time.

    The main lid is nowhere near sealed, so it's a challenge to keep the firebox and temps consistent.
    :confused:

    Traeger's are some nice units, but a bit on the pricey side for our budget.

    Just batting things around and trying to see what others have, and how they like them.
    :handshake:
     
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  19. BDF

    BDF

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    A Camp Chef Woodwind, 24" model. After a year and a half, I really do like it- it is not perfect and probably not the equal of a stick burner (offset smoker) but is a good value and works well overall given reasonable expectations. Then again, as wizards say, 'The magic is not in the wand' and a decent operator could no doubt get much better output from an inexpensive pellet smoker :)

    With the new P.I.D. controller, which I purchased recently as an upgrade, the temp. regulation is excellent and actually a bit surprising that a wood / pellet fire can be controlled so closely. It maintains temp. far better than the electric oven in my house (seriously).

    I chose the Camp Chef due to a handful of features, such as the ability to dump the ash w/out opening up the grill (that only 'kinda' ' works as most of the ash is really blown out of the crucible anyway), the ability to dump hopper pellets easily, and the easy and pretty slick addition of the sear box, which I purchased at the same time as the smoker. I use the sear box often without using the smoker side of the assembly- just as anyone would use a gas grill.

    I think there are better pellet smoker / grills on the market but I was not willing to spend the money on, say, a Yoder as this is my first time with a smoker so I was not willing to spend upwards of $2K to find out if I would use it all that much.

    Probably the next step for me, should I even move away or a bit beyond a pellet smoker, would be a Masterbuilt 1050 but again, not sure if the additional space, money and having to stock charcoal and block- wood is even worth it. Pellet grills / smokers really do shine for the more casual user because everything about them is easy, from lighting them, regulating them to cleaning them and stocking the fuel needed (pellets are readily available and inexpensive via the internet w/ delivery).

    Brian

     
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  20. Chaz

    Chaz

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    Thanks BDF
    :yes:
     
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