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Mo_Smoker 02-11-2013 12:49 PM

When in doubt - ASK - Smokin Ribs question?
Hey there BBQ Brethern -
I am in need of some good Que advice. And I know I will get different responses on this but I will ask anyway.
I have a UDS that my neighbor built for me (he competes in some BBQ competitions) so I am fairly confident the drum he built is not my issue. This isnt my first time using it, but its the 2nd time for ribs. Almost the same result as before, I am sure its the cook. I am sure I missed a step or did something wrong.
Last Saturday, I tried to smoke 2 racks of ribs using the 2-2-1 method. I did some searching about trimming up ribs, I did not trim alot off as they looked ok. About an hour before I put the put the ribs on the smoker I used a small amount of yellow mustard rubbed that onto the ribs and added my rub. It was one I purchased from our local BBQ store. I started my drum earlier and was holding temp about 225-250 degrees. At 11:30 am I put the ribs on the smoker and began. I kept a close eye on the smoker as to make sure temps did not get too out of hand. It would surge up to 260-270 and I would have to shut it all the way down to get the temp back to 225-250. I should have documented this, so I could see exactly what went wrong.
At 1:30 I went to start to foil and I checked the temp and the ribs were all the way up to 190 degrees. I foiled both sets and sprayed them with apple juice and closed them up and put them back on the smoker. I noticed that they looked done, but I was thinking the foil acts like a steamer and would finish them off. I checked and sprayed them an hour later and pulled them at 2 hours. They were not very juicy or moist like I had seen in many pictures.
I sprayed them and added a bit more rub and put them back on the grill for about 20 minutes (10 per side).
They had a really good taste to them, but were a little dry.

This is where you all come in: What did I do wrong?

I know this is kinda of a open ended question but I need the advice of the BBQ Brethern community. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks for listening.


TheKomoman 02-11-2013 12:53 PM

What type of ribs were they, bbacks or spares? 2 hours boated/foiled/wrapped is probably too long for bbacks to my experience and you may have just overcooked them.

1911Ron 02-11-2013 01:00 PM

I'll take a stab, my drum will cook faster so i adjust and not stick to a 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 i go by it being done (bend test or tooth pick comes out clean)
Do you use a deflector in your drum? I have done ribs not using mine and found it got done faster.

Long story short i think you over cooked them if they looked done and the passed the donenes test they are done regardless of time.

Carbon 02-11-2013 01:02 PM

Perhaps the ribs were cooking at a higher temperature than what your thermo was telling you...

superlazy 02-11-2013 01:21 PM

You forgot to boil them first:oops:

Mo_Smoker 02-11-2013 02:03 PM

Thanks for the great responses. I got these ribs when we had our pig butchered back in August, not sure what style that makes them. I know i did not do any of the tests you all were talking about, so please explain.
Thanks, Mike

realspaazz 02-11-2013 02:09 PM

Don't worry about the temp settling in at 260-270 if your drum is "happy" there go with it. The less time you spend chasing temps the easier and more peaceful your cooking will be.

TheKomoman 02-11-2013 02:18 PM


Originally Posted by Mo_Smoker (Post 2363810)
Thanks for the great responses. I got these ribs when we had our pig butchered back in August, not sure what style that makes them. I know i did not do any of the tests you all were talking about, so please explain.
Thanks, Mike

Here's a great article with a graphic about the different pork cuts:

Babybacks would be fairly narrow, like about 5-6" and contain relatively low fat compared to spare ribs. Spares would be about 8" wide and contain a lot of marbled fat.

And I agree with the temp chasing comment above. While your temp bounced a bit it was all within a perfectly good range for cooking ribs. If you can get your drum to hold steady in that 260-270 range easily that's the way to go.

HeSmellsLikeSmoke 02-11-2013 02:48 PM

How were the ribs stored for the past six months or so? How certain are you that they actually are the ribs from your hog?

Wampus 02-11-2013 02:49 PM


Originally Posted by Mo_Smoker (Post 2363810)
Thanks for the great responses. I got these ribs when we had our pig butchered back in August, not sure what style that makes them. I know i did not do any of the tests you all were talking about, so please explain.
Thanks, Mike

Bend Test: There's a couple of different thinkings on this, but as I had it explained to me and what I do is if you pick up the ribs with a set of tongs or a gloved hand only holding on to about half the rack and UNDER THEIR OWN WEIGHT they just start to break (bark starts to split apart) then they've passed the bend test. If you can pick them up and they stay stiff or even if they do flex, but stay intact, they're not ready yet. Once they hit the point of doneness by this test, you've got only a certain window to get them off the pit before they start to dry out and turn chewy.

Another way to test doneness is by the "toothpick test": using a long skewer or toothpick even and probe down between the bones through the meat. Just as with probing larger cuts of meat, the skewer/toothpick should slide through with very little resistance.

MS2SB 02-11-2013 02:57 PM

One suggestion is to not try to chase temps. If the drum wants to ride on the 260-270 zone then let it ride. You're really in good shape all the way up to somewhere around 325* IMO.

Also, when they're done, they're done, get rid of the thermometer for ribs. If they pass the bend test which Wampus described after only 2 hours they they're done. Don't worry some much about sticking to specific time regiments, they're good for general guidance but shouldn't be taken as gospel.

Overall I think you may have overcomplicated things with all the techniques you're trying to put together. If you're just learning, sprinkle them with some rub, wait till the drum settles in to the range it wants to ride at, toss them on and walk away. Check them after about 2 hours and then every 45min-1hr after that.

Wampus 02-11-2013 03:06 PM

Another good point ^^^^.

You have to learn to adapt, adjust with BBQ.
No matter what the "recipe" tells you, if you determine that the ribs are done early, you either need to hold them or plan to eat early. If they feel done to you before you're supposed to foil them, screw the foil.

This will come with experience, but BBQ is about learning, adapting, rolling with it.

Another tip with a UDS....don't adjust air vents a lot at a time. Little adjustments is all that's needed. Otherwise, it's BIG swings in temp. In order to control temps, start with vents wide open and when the thermo is telling you that the drum is about 20 degrees from where you want it, choke it down to where you think it should be. Then little tweaks will let you zero in without overshooting. You'll learn the UDS eventually and as MS2SB said, let it ride where it likes. Adjust cook times accordingly. It's less stressful than fighting it.

Bludawg 02-11-2013 03:37 PM

A UDS will cook 50 deg hotter in the middle than the thermo reads on the side of the cooker, If they where dry it was either the ribs or you dried them out. I don't use foil EVER! I cook mine at 275-300 and the pass the bend test in 3-4 hrs you don't need to temp ribs it is unreliable. The bend test is the only reliable method to determine the proper time to pull ribs.

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