Author Topic: No joy with spare ribs  (Read 826 times)

PulledPorkSandwich

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 34
  • Smokin-it Model 2
No joy with spare ribs
« on: August 25, 2022, 02:35:37 PM »
I'm generally very happy with my SI Model 2 Analog.  I've used it to smoke a variety of meats -- brisket, pork shoulder, salmon, meatloaf -- with very good results. 

One meat I have not been able to get right is spare ribs.  I've tried about 6 times, following the "no peeking" Lazy-Q recommendations, and they came out dry and over-cooked every time.  I've varied box temperatures from 225 to 260 with the same results.  I've tried with and without a water pan on the bottom of the box.  I check the ribs for doneness with the "bend" and "toothpick" tests after about 4 hours and again at 5 and 6 hours.  They never test "done", but when I pull them at about 6 hours, they're overcooked and dry.  The seem to go from not done to dry almost instantly.  I don't spritz, sauce, or wrap the ribs, consistent, I think, with the Lazy-Q recommendations.

I had another bad experience yesterday.  I really like spare ribs, so I will try again, and next time I cook them, I'm going to use Aaron Franklin's approach, including spritzing, saucing, and wrapping -- never mind the no-peeking rule! 

I'll report back with my next experience.  In the meantime, do any of the experts here have an opinion on what I might be doing wrong?  Has anyone gotten excellent results using the no peeking rule?  I've thought that perhaps the meat I'm using might not be good enough, but I've tried a variety of sources with exactly the same results.

Thanks for any feedback.

Ed in North Texas

old sarge

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3853
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2022, 07:37:25 PM »
Ed - Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  Good luck on your next smoke. Nothing worse than dead ribs.
David from Arizona
US Army 70 - 95
SI 3D & Big Red Controller
CS 066
Lodge Sportsman Grill
Weber Kettle
Ducane Meridian 42 inch Grill
LEM MaxVac 1088A
LEM Big Bite #8 Grinder
Chef's Choice 665 and Rival Slicers
Old Hickory Knives
InstantPot Duo80 Plus

tomd8

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 144
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2022, 04:00:18 PM »
As an amateur Iím scratching my head trying to understand whatís different using a #2 and how different our experiences have been.  Please understand Iím not being critical at all just out to learn.  To start when you refer to ďspare ribsĒ weíre talking St. Louis not Baby Back which I understand are leaner but Iíve never smoked them. 
Iíve owned a #3 for 4 years and smoked 18 St. Louis rib racksÖyes I log each smokeÖ.go figure.  I always smoke to FOB as thatís what I and my family like.  Thatís 5.5-7 hrs depending upon the meatiness of the rack.  I always smoke bone side down, set the smoker to 225 and always make a foil boat for the 2-3 oz of cherry/apple/hickory.  Iíve tested with water or apple juice in a pan but decided it made no real difference.  I coat with yellow mustard and add my dry rub the night before smoking.  I should add I use 1 or 2 racks positioned at the second and third slot down from the top if that matters.  The only time Iíve had some dry ribs is occasionally the last small ribs on a small rack or the top of an untrimmed rack.  Of course to your taste FOB may be overdone.  Sorry to hear your having these issues as I find these smokers hands down easier to use than my 2 prior smokers.  Good Luck.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2022, 04:09:19 PM by tomd8 »
Tom from New York
SmokinIt #3 analog, Masterbuilt analog, Little Chief

PulledPorkSandwich

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 34
  • Smokin-it Model 2
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2022, 07:26:52 PM »
Thanks for the feedback, Tom.  I'm an amateur too.

I am cooking St. Louis cut pork spare ribs, not back ribs.  I've tried trimming them myself from a full rack and buying them already trimmed.  I see no difference in the result.

Your description of how you cook yours is almost exactly the same as the approach I have taken, with similar variations along the way.  My ribs tend to fall off the bone, but they fall off in pretty dry chunks when I bite into them, not tender, juicy pieces of meat.  As I mentioned, I check for doneness using the standard tests at 4, 5, and 6 hours.  I never get the expected result with the toothpick test or the bend test, but yet when I pull them at 6 hours, they're dry and overdone.

By contrast, when I have spare ribs in a decent Texas BBQ joint (there are lots of them here in the metroplex), they are juicy, tender, and flavorful.  Sometimes they fall off the bone, sometimes they don't, but they're always moist and tender.  I never get moist, tender ribs when I cook them on the SI.  I do know that the BBQ joints here in Texas spritz, wrap, and sauce their ribs while they cook them.  I'm pretty sure that makes it very hard to end up with dry ribs.  Everything I've read here suggests that with the SI, you don't need to do all that because of how tight the unit is and how well it preserves moisture.  I guess I'm just not seeing that.

And please don't get me wrong:  I love my #2 analog.  I get excellent results on almost every type of meat I cook -- just not spare ribs.  I don't like back ribs because the butchers here leave too much meat on them to increase the price, and I can't cook them like ribs.  I always end up with what looks like a small pork chop on one end of a rack of them.

Thanks again for the feedback.  Next time I cook a rack, I'll post back and share my results.
Ed in North Texas

tomd8

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 144
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2022, 08:19:05 PM »
PPS - I think you nailed it with saucing them while they're smoking.  When I think about the large wood fired smoker one of our local places has they are certainly not a "set it and forget it" smoker and I suspect they are saucing them while they go.  I guess you could sauce them or do the 3-2-1 wrapping them etc. although for me it's more work than I like.  I'd be curious where you wind up on your next smoke.

Tomorrow I'm trying some think chops and chicken quarters.  I really need to be careful with the chops to avoid killing them (LOL).
Tom from New York
SmokinIt #3 analog, Masterbuilt analog, Little Chief

PulledPorkSandwich

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 34
  • Smokin-it Model 2
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2022, 06:15:09 PM »
I never get chops right; they're always tough.  I hope yours come out tasty today!

I'm seriously thinking about getting a sous vide set up, primarily for pork chops.  I do love a good chop!
Ed in North Texas

arkhomer

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2022, 08:38:11 AM »
Completely agree! I did 2 2 1 spare ribs yesterday and they were not great.

My Weber Smoky Mountain is head and shoulders superior smoker.

PulledPorkSandwich

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 34
  • Smokin-it Model 2
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2022, 12:52:56 PM »
@arkhomer,  I see from your other thread that you've decided to sell your #2.  I'm going to keep mine, since I get such good results with other meats.  Moreover, with the SI, I don't have to monitor box temperature constantly like I did with my stick burner.  That's a big deal for me when I'm cooking a pork shoulder or a brisket.  Have you tried other meats with your #2?  What was your experience?  Back to your rib result, did you sauce or spritz in any of the three cook phases?  Franklin doesn't use a 2-2-1 or 3-2-1 approach, but he does spritz and wrap when he cooks them on his stick burners.

I have a theory about what's going on with ribs.  I'm no expert, so I'll await additional feedback from the experts here.  In the meantime, I suspect that the SI smokers are especially good with "thick", "fatty" cuts of meat like pork shoulder and packer briskets, and with meats, like salmon, which, while relatively thin, cook for relatively short times at relatively cool box temperatures, but are also relatively fatty. 

I will note that, when I cook a brisket, the "skinny" end of the flat always gets a bit overcooked and dry, but this is something that really can't be helped, judging from what I've read here and elsewhere.

Spare ribs are "thin", not very fatty, and cook at relatively high temperatures and long times.  I suspect that they can't help but dry out, even with a "tight" unit like the SI with or without a water pan. 

As I said earlier, I'm going to try Franklin's approach next time I cook ribs and I'll post back here with my results.
Ed in North Texas

PulledPorkSandwich

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 34
  • Smokin-it Model 2
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2022, 11:51:15 AM »
Hi all,

I just smoked another rack of spare ribs and I thought I'd post back with my experience.

This time, I used Franklin's approach with the Model 2.  I used his rub recipe and a box temperature of about 250-260, initially smoking for 3 hours.  At the end of each hour, I spritzed with a half and half mixture of apple juice and apple cider vinegar.  After three hours, the rack had a nice mahogany color but appeared quite dry.  They did not pass the "bend" test at this point.

After three hours, I spritzed again and wrapped tightly in aluminum foil.  I put the wrapped rack back into the smoker and cooked for an additional 3 hours at 250-260.  When I pulled the ribs, they were very moist and tender, with the meat falling off the bone -- probably a bit overdone.  The flavor was excellent.  I'll use this approach going forward for ribs, and I might try wrapping pork shoulder and brisket as well

Next time I cook ribs, I may reduce the time the ribs cook wrapped to avoid over-cooking and to get a bit of crust on the surface without drying them out.  I might also spritz with only apple juice (not vinegar) to get a bit more sweetness.  The rub I use does not have any sugar in it.

Ed in North Texas

Lonzinomaker

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 443
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2022, 01:49:54 PM »
Opening the smoker that much, I think you effectively lowered the temperature.
You might try cooking at a lower temp. I do ribs at 225-230.
Dave
Smokin-It #3 main smoker.
1400 Smokin Tex (same size as #2) for Snowbird time.
Smokin-It #1 for camping trips.
Big Chief with mailbox mod for cheese smoking
Blackstone 22in griddle with Bakerstone pizza oven
Spokane, WA

PulledPorkSandwich

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 34
  • Smokin-it Model 2
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2022, 02:09:54 PM »
Opening the smoker that much, I think you effectively lowered the temperature.
You might try cooking at a lower temp. I do ribs at 225-230.

Thanks for the suggestion.  I will try a lower temperature next time as well.

I'm sure I effectively lowered the temperature, but I'm thinking not too much.  It was amazing to me how quickly the Model 2 came back up to the set temperature -- less than 5 minutes after opening and spritzing, I was back to where I wanted to be.  I opened it 3 times, so maybe 15 minutes total of lower-than-set temperature.

Just to be clear, I've tried various temperatures using the "no peeking" approach recommended in the EasyQ booklet.  Every time, I ended up with dry, almost tasteless, ribs.  So, opening and closing, to me, is necessary to get tender, moist ribs.  Also, this time I was trying to be faithful to Franklin's approach, albeit with an entirely different smoker style.  He recommends 275.  But that said, these ribs were a bit too done.  So, another argument for turning down the temp next time.
Ed in North Texas

dorian345

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Re: No joy with spare ribs
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2023, 03:22:44 AM »
I had the same problem. Using the no peak method.. so I decided to do then 2-2-1 method. 2 hours unwrapped.. 2 hours wrapped in foil and 1 hour open on the rack sauced. Always successful and. I use 3oz of wood.