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Grate temp or dome temp?

On my third smoke here...St. Louis style ribs in 5th (and final, I think) hour as I type. I am wondering if I should trust the grate temp (as measured by dual egg digital thermometer) or the dome temp for cooking times? My grate temp is close to 50 degrees higher than the dome temp cooking indirect with plate setter. Any tips? Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • 500500 Posts: 1,247
    I believe the dome temp is usually HIGHER than the grate temp. I go with dome temp, as that is what I believe temperatures are posted as. Calibrate the thermometer in a pot of boiling water, and adjust the nut behind the dial as needed.
    Large BGE; Midlothian, Virginia
    I like Pig Butts and I can not lie.
    "Barbecue is a journey, one meal at a time."
  • Pcody5Pcody5 Posts: 14
    Brutal...wonder what is up with my dome thermometer then if it is usually higher? Could it have anything to do with the tin foil over the plate setter reflecting heat to that grate thermometer? There is literally a 50 degree difference. The only other idea I have is altitude? I live near Boulder, CO...wonder if it makes any difference in cook times, etc? Reason I ask is that my first smoke of a pork butt (8.3lbs) took 18.5 hours to get internal temp to 195.
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 5,349

    Welcome to the cult-now about temps/thermos etc-the key to success with any indication is your confidence in the reading-so make sure everything you reference is calibrated (as mentioned above) as the first step.  You can have many different thremal gradients within the BGE-so you can become temperature overloaded if you choose to monitor with many instruments.  That said, Since the dome thermo is the one thermo that comes with all BGE's most people reference it (unless otherwise specified) in cooking recipes.  With indirect cooks (platesetter or some other heat deflector in place) the dome thermo is normally higher (20-40*F) than the grid starting out.  Longer the dome is shut the closer the temps.  Any temp is a reference for the approximate cook time so use it as such.  The finish-line is defined by the meat finish temp. 

    Is your grate thermo getting exposed to the direct heat from the lump-if so then that's likely the source of the delta T. FWIW-

    Louisville
  • Pcody5Pcody5 Posts: 14
    Thanks for the response. I thought of the direct heat thing, and the grate therm is towards the outside, but I took care to put it above one of the 3 plate setter arms to counteract that effect. Perhaps it still just gets hotter there. I guess I need to do the water boil calibration thing. Can one even take the internal temp of ribs??? If so, what should it be? I didn't see anything on that anywhere, just rough cooking times and temps.
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 5,349
    @Pcody5-finish test for ribs follows-there are generally two ways to go here; if you have full racks, the bend test works well-pick up one end of the rack and if it bends around 90* then you are finished.  Toothpick test-if you cut the racks or don't want to mess with the bend test-insert a toothpick into the thickest meat part of the rib-"in and out with no resistance"=done.  Also look for meat pulling back on the bone to indicate you are getting close.
    Louisville
  • Pcody5Pcody5 Posts: 14
    I have them in tin foil for the last hour so I'll have to open those up to do your tests. If the dome temp is the correct one then they have been on for 5.25hrs at roughly 220....if grate, 265...ribs would be safe to eat even at that lower temp, yes? It's just a matter of rendering and texture at this point, right? I had two racks that I cut in half.
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 5,349
    I knew there was a reason I didn't foil ribs :) Thatsaid, your ribs are safe to eat but to get the texture you want (fall off the bone or with a little pull) I would open them up and give it the toothpick test.  Just remember the cook so with the results you get you can adjust as needed on the next one-the journey never gets to the finish-line!
    Louisville
  • EllerEller Posts: 56
    Pcody5, alot of people use the 3-2-1 technique for doing ribs. It's 3 hour indirect at 200 to 225 and 2 hours foiled, then 1 hour unfoiled. You can sauce them at the end if you choose. I have had great luck with a slight modification of this method. I like to go 3 hours indirect at 225. Then 1 hour foiled and 1 hour unfoiled so the meat can set up. I sauce mine the last 15 minutes so as not to burn them. Going 2 hours foiled as made the rib meat too tender and it literally falls of the bone. I do the for 1 hour to make the meat tender but also to give a little resistance for judging. We had a local cook off and I got  a second place finish out of 13 contenders with this cook. Good luck to you.
  • DuganboyDuganboy Posts: 1,118
    lousubcap said:
    I knew there was a reason I didn't foil ribs :) Thatsaid, your ribs are safe to eat but to get the texture you want (fall off the bone or with a little pull) I would open them up and give it the toothpick test.  Just remember the cook so with the results you get you can adjust as needed on the next one-the journey never gets to the finish-line!
    @lousubcap great advice all the way around about testing and not foiling.  My favorite method for doneness is when the meat pulls back and I know I'm near the time, I just see what pulling one apart is like.  Just a little tug, then release they are perfect. Foiling completely changes the texture of the meat.
  • Pcody5Pcody5 Posts: 14
    Well, next time I will come here first before I start cooking. I crapped the bed on this one after a great pork butt and salmon. Overdone by a lot from what I can tell. I think my grate therm was the more accurate one based on my result. Next time no foil so I can tell what's happening. Nice flavor though just overdone. Thanks to all for the advice.
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