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Old 02-26-2020, 10:12 PM   #1
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Default Why can't I get baby back ribs to fall off the bone?

I'm using a big green egg and was told that wrapping or tenting was unnecessary.

However I just finished a 215 degree 6.5 hour smoke with a water/drip pan. Sprayed diluted AC vinegar every 45 min after the the first 3 hours.

Results: Some good pieces near center of the rack, but mostly a bit tough and dry. Not easily pulled apart.

These were better than my last attempt. Those were done at 225 degrees for 4 hours and clearly under done.

What can I try next?

My failures are delicious so I don't mind repeated attempts.
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:21 PM   #2
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Wrapping? I never cooked on this cooker but I'd definitely try wrapping in foil.

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Old 02-26-2020, 10:33 PM   #3
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If you want fall-off-the-bone, then wrapping would be a good way to go.
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:34 PM   #4
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Did you pull the membrane? Check for tenderness throughout the cook?
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:42 PM   #5
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Spray when it looks dry, if it’s every 15-30 then it’s every 15-30 on your smoker. Find a temp between 250 and 300 and learn how your smoker runs. Then learn how the meat cooks at those temps. Dark/Memphis style don’t wrap or use butcher paper. Crazy fall off the bone, melt in your mouth, use foil / moisture ie; butter / liquids and wrap tight. Good luck and pictures always help to get one in the right direction.
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:50 PM   #6
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215* based on what? The dome thermometer? And opening the lid every 45 minutes to spray a liquid on the meat which has a cooling effect? Surely undercooked.

Next time, run it at 275* grate temp and pull the slab when it passes the bend test, or the toothpick probe test.

I'm guessing the slab of babybacks you got are probably in the 3-4lb range, so they probably have a bunch of the boring lean loin meat on them which means they'll take longer to cook, but a higher cooker temp should counter that regardless.

6.5 hours for a slab of babybacks is redonkulous, aint nobody got time for 215*
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Old 02-26-2020, 11:11 PM   #7
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Hey Troy,

If I could give you one piece of advice, and I'm not being a smart ass, it would be relax. The meat drives the cook not the time. For larger cooks like brisket or pork butt I have a good idea regarding the time but it's always subject to that particular piece of protein. With smaller cooks like pork ribs, of witch I do not wrap, I just throw them on for 3 hours and then start to check on them. I would suggest to probe the rack of ribs with a toothpick, if it probes like butter then they are done. Also- IMHO I would crank the vessel up to 250 to 275... Another thing, you don't need a water pan in a kamado but if your adding water to keep the acrid pork fat from smoking up a rack of ribs I get it. Btw, I have 14 years of cooking on a BGE... Hope this helps...

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Old 02-27-2020, 03:10 AM   #8
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You could boil them. I believe that is the usual method.
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Old 02-27-2020, 08:09 AM   #9
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I also think 275 is a better temp to render the ribs tender to whatever degree of tenderness you prefer.

I used to use really low temps, like 225 or maybe lower and finally decided I was probably just dehydrating things, by not getting hot enough, quick enough, to render fat and make things moist and tender. 275 or thereabouts is my go to to temp for darn near everything I want tender and moist! Plus, it gets done sooner and we can all eat.

Having said that, I do not like my ribs fall off the bone, so I pull the plug a bit earlier. I think fall off the bone is also mushy to me and kind of gross when I eat it, especially BB ribs. I would much rather have some resistance when I grab a rib and take a bite. I actually like almost a crust on the top.

Damn I'm getting hungry for ribs and it's only 7 am.
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Old 02-27-2020, 09:18 AM   #10
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This works for me: Remove membrane, favorite rub on both sides, smoke meat side up for 2-3 hours. Double hd foil wrap with chunk of butter and bone side up for 2 hours. Unwrap, but leave foil under the ribs, turn with meat side up, douse with sauce, smoke for 1 hour. All of this done at 225-250. The wrapping steams the ribs making them tender. Hope this helps.
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Old 02-27-2020, 09:42 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by airedale View Post
You could boil them. I believe that is the usual method.
With liquid smoke. Then finish on a gas grill. Perfect ribs in an hr.

Or, use a crock pot. Won't get more tender than that.

You guys need to widen your options
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Old 02-27-2020, 10:11 AM   #12
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Cook about 250-275°F. You can go higher after you've got some more experience.

Forget water pans and spraying. As long as you have a fire/coals for a heat source you already have moisture in you cooker. If you are opening the cooker to spray you are letting your heat out. You can't add external moisture and have it go inside meat.
Forget all this nonsense.

Baby backs are small Loin Back ribs. They are something like 1-1/2 or 1-3/4lbs and smaller. Loin Backs are the larger version. Spare ribs and their variants are another subject.

Use a round tooth pick or an ice pick or a thermo pen inserted in the meat between the ribs. Do this when you start cooking so you'll know what raw ribs feel like. For real Baby Backs start testing at about 3hrs to see how well they are cooked. A bit longer for larger ribs. When the probe enters easily and the resistance feel constant they are about done. Feels like probing butter(near room temp butter) is a common phrase around here. Another way is to pick up a rib with tongs and the rib meat should "break" but not fall apart. Similar to the toothpick method try a rib before cooked to see what uncooked is like.

Some folks do foil but I've never found it necessary and contrary to popular opinion it's just like opening the pit to spray. If the pit is open you're losing heat and if you take the food out you lose even more heat. I think the practice is a wash at best.

It will probably take a couple of cooks to understand the feel required for the doneness you're looking for. However it only takes time to cook for doneness and not other crutches.

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Old 02-27-2020, 11:13 AM   #13
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Thanks for the great responses.

I knew the temps on my last 2 cooks were on the extreme low-end of typical, but part of what I'm doing is experimentation and after several failures due to burning/overcooking, I was ready for a couple low-heat/under-cooked failures.
When I say 215 degrees I really mean the dome temp was 195, the grill temp 210 in the center, 240 at the perimeter (where the convector plate ends).
I always remove the membrane, but once left it on just to learn the texture.

I've done cooks where I left the dome closed the entire time (no spray), I've done cooks where I bend test the ribs every hour after the 3hr mark. Every cook has had a drip pan with at least some water but I guess it's time to start testing without.

I think a problem may be that I used do my ribs in a slow cooker or instant pot and finished on the gas grill which produced very soft ribs. Almost pulled pork texture.

I was toying with the idea of buying a roasting pan (with lid) to braise the ribs after the initial smoke. I'm uniquely terrible at aluminum foil origami.

I really appreciate everyone's input.
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Old 02-27-2020, 12:05 PM   #14
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Temp too low and didn't cook em for long enough. As others have said, go to 275F, especially if you don't wrap them. If you're looking for very tender ribs, you will probably want to wrap them for 1-1.5 hours once they hit 160-170F.
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Old 02-27-2020, 03:39 PM   #15
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Try the 3-2-1 method and get those temps closer to 275. That should get you there.
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