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Unread 05-12-2012, 08:43 AM   #1
Tatoosh
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Default Ribs Gone Wrong!

Okay, admittedly I'm new to smoking ribs. My first smoke was pretty dry and tough. My second smoke was nice and juicy. So today was my third smoke. We get two racks of ribs, one of them fairly large by Philippine standards.

I'm going for Meathead Goldwyn's Pig Candy, so I follow his guidelines pretty well. I make his Memphis Dust rub. I brine my ribs for 12 hours ahead of cooking. That is mistake Numero Uno. He didn't say brine, that is my idea from other cooking. Bad idea!

We heat the Weber/Smokenator. I've had problems with getting to heat. So we remove the small water pan completely. Up the charcoal (mostly local lump) and start it with more than normal. We get start getting good temps pretty quickly. It is in the 220F to 245F range.

I load on the ribs, see below. We cook until they hit the 150F that Meathead mentioned, just a bit shy of three hours. Then we foil, using the "boat" method, with apple juice. The ribs go 1/2 hour in the foil. We have a temperature fiasco, the grill shooting to 325F because we left the dome off while wrapping the ribs. I adjust the vents so the temp drops, but it comes down very slowly.

We pull them out of the foil, drain the juices in the pan for the glaze, and return the ribs to the grill at about 270F but with the vent closed so the temp drops slowly but steadily to 240F. There is a still apple juice and some fat in the pan, so it didn't all steam off with the temperature spike.

Finally, one hour at 240F dropping to 230F, uncovered to dry the bark. The last quarter hour I pull the dome, glaze the ribs with the maple syrup/apple juice mix. It looks really good.



But when it is time to serve, terrible stuff. Very salty and very tough. Not sure why. Well, the salt I understand. But the dry tough texture, I do not. Maybe the removal of the water pan? Bad ribs, though I don't know if that is even a possibility.

The dry, tough result...

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Unread 05-12-2012, 09:03 AM   #2
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Too bad!
If they weren't too salty maybe they would pass as rib jerky from the looks of the last pic.
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Unread 05-12-2012, 09:17 AM   #3
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You aren't too far off on that one. And I KNOW better. But vapor lock in the old noggin took its toll. The dryness has me buffaloed. Obviously too much heat, I suppose. Or too long. But they weren't way over temp when I checked them before wrapping.

I expected to see them start to pull back from the bone if they were getting done. Almost none of that when we wrapped except on the ribs closest to the Smokenator showing just a hint of drawing back.

Oh well, back to the drawing board. I've still got one or two racks in the freezer.
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Unread 05-12-2012, 09:24 AM   #4
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The pull back on ribs is not a accurate measure to see if your ribs are done IMO.
I'd rather do the bend test.
Those ribs of yours also look more like the ribs that I get...not as thick as the US ribs.
I guess you cooked them too long.
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Unread 05-12-2012, 10:00 AM   #5
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Judging by the look of those ribs, I would say you have a meat quality issue. IMO with the thickness of those I would think they would be done in 2-3hrs max. Listen to Phubar and try the bend test next time. It's very hard to get an accurate temp measurement on ribs, that's why most use the bend test or toothpick test instead. You may consider skipping the foil all together next time or adjust the method to something like 2 hrs on grate, 1/2 hr in foil and 1/2 hr or till done on grate to firm up. Good luck!
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Unread 05-12-2012, 01:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fingerlickin' View Post
Judging by the look of those ribs, I would say you have a meat quality issue. IMO with the thickness of those I would think they would be done in 2-3hrs max. Listen to Phubar and try the bend test next time. It's very hard to get an accurate temp measurement on ribs, that's why most use the bend test or toothpick test instead. You may consider skipping the foil all together next time or adjust the method to something like 2 hrs on grate, 1/2 hr in foil and 1/2 hr or till done on grate to firm up. Good luck!
Meat quality and the brining would be my guess. I always take a peek at about the middle of the cook and correct my timing based on how things look.
I also do not foil on the grill, only if I have time to let them set after cooking.
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Unread 05-12-2012, 03:41 PM   #7
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I agree...meat quality is the biggest factor here. With out knowing what was in the brine and amounts, it's hard to say if that was a factor. I have noticed that over brined ribs tend to have a hammy taste and texture more than any thing.

Those ribs are definately thin for sure. On the thicker ribs of U.S. standards, over cooking with tend to make them falling off of the bone, especially when foiled with a liquid added to braise them a bit. But, I have noticed that thinner ribs will tend to get tough and dry when over cooked.
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Unread 05-12-2012, 04:14 PM   #8
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Worst case, throw them in a crockpot with cubed potatoes, carrots, onions, and some chicken stock. Soup is always good. Check the seasonings a half hour before serving and
correct to taste, and throw in some green beans and peas. Make some biscuits and everyone will complement you on your skills.
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Unread 05-12-2012, 09:06 PM   #9
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Thanks for your insights guys. Meat quality here in the Philippines is variable and you are stuck with what they have. I might get better cuts, but only if I buy at the public market where meat sits out unrefrigerated. I buy the better "supermarket" where the meat is at least kept in a cool display counter.

The brining was in a 7 percent solution (by weight water to salt- 1 kilo water/70 grams salt), and the meat did come out rather "hammy". I used the Memphis Dust Rub that Meathead Goldwyn has on his website. Which should not have made it very salty, given that the recipe is 3 cups of various ingredients total and only 1/4 cup of that was salt. And then only 1 tablespoon per side was applied per his "Vermont Pig Candy" recipe. My next couple of efforts will not include brine for the ribs, which up to now has worked very well when cooking (not smoking) pork chops and chicken in the kitchen.

Thanks for the save idea dadsr4. That is a good idea.

So let's get to the core of my problem. Is there a way to tell where the ribs are in terms of cook time? I had thought the bone pulling back was an indication, but these did not show that until the tail end of the cook. Goldwyn's instructions for wrapping was to do it at 150F, which the largest section of the ribs measured. However to get into the "boat" since I didn't individually wrap, they had to be cut down to fit.

And, in fact, most ribs are cut in half and are smaller. I am uncertain how to do the bend test, though I've seen it on videos, but with full racks. Does it work on smaller or partial racks too? I am committed to figuring this out. Any guides for checking where the ribs are will be appreciated. I have an instant read thermometer that is accurate. I will try the bend test if that is possible with the shorter, smaller racks here, and I will shorten my times down to something similar to baby backs. Anything else I can do or look for?

I want to turn out some juicy ribs with good smoke. and these definitely had a pretty good smoke, though availability of wood is limited to small commercial packs of shredded wood generally intended for gas grills. Since the whole aluminum packet smokes very quickly, I break it down into two packages and add them sequentially. That gives me about 45 minutes of smoke, but it is a bit heavy, so I may break them down into 3 or 4 packages so that it doesn't all go so quickly. A minor problem actually.

The one thing that did work pretty well was the glaze. I had pure maple syrup grade A. It does not have the serious maple hit I was expecting, but it was good. If grade B syrup was available, I'd definitely go use that and save the better grade for Sunday breakfast.
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Unread 05-13-2012, 09:19 AM   #10
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The best way to check for doneness on ribs is the bend test IMO. Run a pair of tongs up the rack to about rib 5 or 6 and pick the ribs up off of the grill bone side down. If the free end of the ribs bends straight to the ground and the meat looks like it's going to break away from the bones closest to the tongs, or if is just starting to break away, the ribs are done.

With that said, some ribs just can't be cooked on the grill/smoker. And I'd say that the ones you had here, were a prime candidate for your beloves sous vide method, or even the crock pot.

It looks like they were from a very lean pig, or had all of the belly meat cut away and left none for the ribs them selves. But being as you're in the Philippines, I'd say that the quality of the pork is just to lean.
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Unread 05-13-2012, 09:48 AM   #11
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hi Tatoosh,

i always use a water pan and water to keep the ribs tender when cooking. i hope you can salvage your ribs as dadsr said above soup is always good use tom yum paste use the meat add some sugar and tom yum paste..

http://www.thebarbecuemaster.net/tom-yum.html
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Unread 05-13-2012, 10:31 AM   #12
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I have one more rack, sold in two pieces, that I will try tomorrow. No brine this time! Just the Memphis Dust rub and I will try some barbecue sauce I have. Pure maple syrup is too pricy to keep using on experiments. When I get it sorted, I'll dig out the Maple Syrup Pig Candy recipe again!

Thanks to everyone!
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Unread 05-13-2012, 11:11 AM   #13
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I'd say given as lean as they are, foiling a little earlier with a little apple juice or even water may help the end result. I'm interested in hearing if you get a good rib out of them and what technique get's you a good end result.
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Unread 05-13-2012, 11:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tatoosh View Post
I have one more rack, sold in two pieces, that I will try tomorrow. No brine this time! Just the Memphis Dust rub and I will try some barbecue sauce I have. Pure maple syrup is too pricy to keep using on experiments. When I get it sorted, I'll dig out the Maple Syrup Pig Candy recipe again!

Thanks to everyone!
Rub the ribs with olive oil before cooking, it will seal in a little more moisture.
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Unread 05-13-2012, 09:58 PM   #15
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CarolinaQue, that is my plan. I will foil after an hour and half. I will be more careful during foiling and try to keep my Weber from having such a wild temperature overrun as it did with my first try. Just need to put the lid back on while we wrap.

Dadsr4, I've already done the rub, so you think olive oil over the rub? Or would you mix the rub into oil next time?

I have a brother-in-law learning the meat cutting trade down in Manila, a six hour trip by bus, but I'm hoping he will be assigned closer after his apprentice period. I'd have a running shot at getting ribs cut with a bit more meat if he was involved.

Ribs from the big commercial supermarket here cost about $5.00 a kilo (2.2lbs) Below is a photo of the last rack of closely trimmed ribs which tend to a lot of bone and not much meat.

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