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Ribs Without 3-1-1

MattMatt Posts: 143
edited 7:50PM in EggHead Forum
All --

Cooked some baby backs yesterday for the 4th....they were...OK. Everyone else raved about them, but I was disappointed. I have had this problem since getting my Egg. I can't seem to cook ribs that I like as much as those I used to make on my offset smoker. I'm not sure what gives.

For this cook, I seasoned on Saturday night and wrapped in plastic in the fridge. Pulled the ribs out yesterday, cleaned out the Egg, and built a small fire with some hickory chinks mixed in. Platesetter legs up, drip pan, cooking grate. Stabilized at 225 and then added the ribs. After about three hours, I disassembled to add more wood (never tried this before), and I sauced during the last hour (six hours total on the Egg). I have a number of seemingly conflicting complaints with the finished product:

1. Ribs could have been more tender. I don't like "fall off the bone", but these were no where near that -- just a little bit too much chew for me.

2. Bark was too dark -- wasn't burnt (at all), but darker than I would like for a nice presentation.

3. Speaking of presentation, no smoke ring. I know this isn't necessary for good ribs, but it sure does look pretty.

4. Not enough smoke flavor for my tastes (this is actually an ongoing problem with my Egg cooks and not one that I have ever had with other cookers).

I would really like to avoid 3-1-1 (which I have tried in the past) and I know it is possible to make amazing ribs without the foil step because I have done it on an offset cooker and also on a Weber kettle. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance....



  • chronochrono Posts: 177
    I usually use mustard before putting on my rub. Gets more to stick and then let sit overnight. I get good penetration that way and a nice smoke ring.

    Baby backs should not take that long. Go 250 for 3-4 hours. You can foil or not at the end, your choice.

    Not sure why you needed to add more wood. Just fill your lump up to the fire ring. Add some wood chunks and that's it.

    Did you use a rib rack or just laid them flat?
  • MattMatt Posts: 143
    Thanks for the reply.

    I just laid them flat -- I was only doing three racks.

    I've tried mustard in the past, but could tell if it really made any difference. Maybe I'll go back to that....

    I added wood to try to "up" the smokiness of the ribs some, since I anticipated that this would be a problem. I didn't need more fuel, just more smoke.
  • chronochrono Posts: 177
    Ok, if you did them flat I assume you had the bones down the whole cook? I usually do spares but toward the very end I wrap in foil for 30-45 minutes and flip meat down so it broils. Seems to get the fall off the bone effect going. As for the mustard, it's a personal preference. I like to liberally coat my ribs with rub. Never too much rub in my book.
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    Car Wash Mike's rib method is very popular and the results, for me, have been fantastic.

    The smoke rig is more for show and bragging rights.

    These links should be of interest.

    Car Wash Mike's Class
    Baby Back Rib Class

    Smoke Rings - What Are They & How To Get One?

    You should spend some time and peruse Thrideye's site.

  • 2Fategghead2Fategghead Posts: 9,623
    Matt, I do Spare ribs but, I believe it's a similar cook. I have foiled in the past but, I don't now. I trim them St Louis style and mustard and rub. 250° dome until the rub sets in the meat then 235° but, I have a pit controller. I fill the fire box with lump and add chunks to the top I use three good size chunks of hickory. Mine take around 5 hours and are fall off the bone but, you can always take them off sooner. Here is a cook I did a while back. Look it over if you like. :) Tim
  • MattMatt Posts: 143
    Thanks, GG. I've read CWM's method over on thirdeye's site before -- those ribs do look awesome. What I don't understand is that what I am doing is not really much (any?) different. In fact, on this cook, I even misted every hour with the 50/50 cider vinegar/apple juice mixture, which I have not typically done in the past. This is why I am so frustrated.
  • MattMatt Posts: 143
    Thanks, 2Fat -- those are some pretty ribs. I actually prefer SLC spares myself, but didn't have time to do the trimming for this go around and just used BB's. It looks like the method I am using is essentially the same as what you're doing. I'm not sure where I'm coming off the rails.
  • Couple things I would do different

    If your rub has salt in it you may be curing the ribs and giving them a hammy flavor by rubbing the night before. I apply the rub during prep after lighting the Egg - never the night before. I'm a heavy rubber.

    I never use hickory on ribs. Mostly pecan but some apple and cherry as well. Distributed throughout the lump. Usually get a nice smoke ring but it really doesn't matter to me - more interested in flavor.

    Friday's ribs

  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,939
    I can offer a few things.

    As above, 225 is rather low. It will take a long time to get the ribs to temperature, and there could be a chance of dryness. My preference for ribs is to not use a platesetter. Just a drip pan to shield the meat from the direct IR. I think that just a drip pan gives a slightly better air flow, and so improves the chance for a crispier outside.

    I usually associate darkness of bark with the sugar content of the rub. Ribs with just salt and pepper on often have areas that are golden brown.

    Smoke ring depends on the temperature of the meat. Above 140 it doesn't form. So move the meat directly from the 'fridge to the grill for longest period of formation.

    Rib meat, just like butt for PP, needs to get to at least 195. It can be hard to tell, but BBs often are thick enough that you can get a therm into them. I did some yesterday, with one portion packed tightly between 2 others in a rack. They never broke 185, and though acceptable, pretty chewy. The freer standing portions reached 200, and split apart when pulled from the rack.

    My current favorite for smoking wood is a white colored oak. Dense, and not pinkish in hue. Just a handful of chips gives the most remarkable scent. See if you can find some. Might help.
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    I generally don't mist, turn or foil. I just let the ribs cook and pull when the meat feels tender - there may or may not be much meat pull back from the bone. I usually get a little pull from the bone. My ribs seem to cook quicker than other folks report.

    Wet ribs seem to photograph much better than dry, but I prefer dry and then sauce as one wants.

    Here is a picture of my dry ribs.


    These were cooked bone down, 250° small pull back on the bone. I can't find my notes but as I recall these were done indirect, no turning, no spritzing just cooking. These were seasoned with DP Dizzy Dust.

    Not sure what to suggest for your dilemma.

  • Hey Matt. We probably do more bb than anything so I'll chime in for what its worth.

    I'm not a fan of foil on the smoker. To me its too much work with little to no reward. I do foil them after I pull them and even asked the forum their opinion a couple days ago. As you can imagine, everyone had a different take and the short of it was most folks did not think it mattered.

    6 hours seems like a long time to me. The ones from Saturday below I pulled at about 15 minutes shy of 5 hours. The entire cook was roughly 225 with a couple spikes up to 250 after I basted with a vinegar/soy sauce mixture. I did that about once an hour.

    I also put quartered apples in my drip pan. I'll even throw in some apple juice if I have some handy.

    At 4 hours I basted with a bbq/honey mixture. The wife loves that taste so it happens more often than not. :)

    I'm not sure adding more hickory deep into the cook matters much. It's my understanding most of the smoke absorption takes place during the first hour anyway.

    I hope this helps somehow.

  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    Nice looking ribs Frank.

    "If your rub has salt in it you may be curing the ribs and giving them a hammy flavor by rubbing the night before"

    Thanks for the post. I normally do BB ribs but yesterday I did some spares. Family loved them but to me they tasted different. My S-I-L likes Montreal seasoning. I was out of DP but had some McCormik. Their Montreal has what looks like large pieces of salt, rock salt. These were seasoned 45 minutes to 1 hour before putting on the egg. My mental though when eating was this is too salty and tastes more like ham.

    Before reading your post I was thinking it was just the spares as apposed to babyback.

  • MattMatt Posts: 143
    All --

    Thanks for all of the great replies -- you all cook some beautiful ribs. Unfortunately, I'm still not sure what I am doing wrong -- why are my ribs good, but not great? I suspect that I just need to keep fiddling around -- eggsperimenting, if you will -- with what I am doing. Hopefully, I'll get it figured out....

  • Large MargeLarge Marge Posts: 404
    excellent replies by all and thanks for posting pics and personal tips - we need to archive threads like these as I'll bet there is 200yrs of combined experience typed in!
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,001
    get yourself a wireless thermometer and place it at the grill level. it will be colder down there with the setup your using, your offset was probably hotter at the grid level, in an egg with an indirect setup you are actually around 200, maybe even lower for the first half of the cook, at the grid with the dome reading around 225, 200 is not hot enough to cook those ribs ;) if you want to cook at 225, consider a raised grid and cook them direct.with indirect you can go a lot higher with the dome temps, 250/275. i didnt catch where your buying the ribs, if its a supermarket with the ribs in the supermarkets own packaging its also possible your getting solution added with those ribs, they dont have to mention that when they repackage ribs
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