Author Topic: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble  (Read 5063 times)

Offline Master of Qlinary Arts

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1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« on: October 05, 2010, 08:58:22 pm »
Hello All,

I just got my Bradley about a month ago and I thought I'd try my hand at some ribs.  The plan was to smoke @ 225 for 3, bake in foil wrap with cider for 2, and sauce and grill for 30mins - 1.  I had a lot of trouble getting the temp of the smoke box to 225.  In fact the highest I could get it was 219.  I even ran it at 300 for about 20 mins.  However, my IT of the pork reached 173 towards the end (which I think is about 5-10 degrees too high).  I'm not sure if my thermometer is inaccurate or if the smoker thermometer is inaccurate, but it seems the box temp should have been higher then 219.  I live north so it was about 60 outside but not too windy.  I think I should have just pulled them when it hit 160 regardless of 3 hours or not.  End result 1 average semi pull away from the bone rack, 5 super dry (2 racks were Venison which I should not have used the same times and temps for pork).

What are some best practices for pork ribs?  Baby back or short preferably baby back.

Any suggestions are welcome.  Ribs have been my Achilles heel and I aim to fix this.

Thanks in advance.
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Offline DTAggie

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2010, 09:26:15 pm »
Welcome to the forum Master.  I am no rib expert.  What kind of smoker are you using?  Original or digital?

What are you using to measure the box temp?  I and I beleive most people do not use a temp probe on ribs.  It is more of a look and feel thing.  Look for the meat to start to pull back from the bone.  I prefer baby backs and typically only smoke about 2 to 2.5 hrs then foil for about an hour then a little time back in the smoker.

I have never done venison so can't help you there.

The expert on ribs will be along soon I am sure.

Offline Gizmo

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2010, 09:36:20 pm »
Welcome Qlinary

It looks like you have a good process overall just maybe make a few adjustments until you get dialed in to using the Bradley.

First of all I would attack the box temp.  I will assume you have a digital since you stated you had the set temp at 300 but for only 20 minutes.  I would suggest starting by setting the temp to the max (320) and let the oven temp come up to 260 degrees before putting in the ribs. Put the ribs in around the middle of the smoker (start with only one rack until you get use to using the box and find your ideal rib). Put a digital temp probe in the box just under the rack with the ribs but slightly off to the side so liquid does not drip on it and ruin the probe. Use this to monitor the box temp. You will find you need to keep the set temp at max for over an hour (depending on external temps and other factors), while the temp of the meat starts to increase and the box recovers from putting in the meat. As the external digital temp probe comes up to around 210 degrees, you can start decreasing the set temp gradually until the digital set point and the temperature are within 10 to 20 degrees of each other (around the 210 to 220 deg mark). The hours and method you described below should work well for a good result if you don't have the box loaded with too much meat without compensating for it.
As DTAggie mentioned, I do not use a probe in the meat on ribs. 
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Offline Pachanga

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2010, 10:09:19 pm »
Good advice from the above posts.  I would just add that bringing the ribs up to room temp prior to smoking will obviously help the chamber temperature out. 

Another factor is water pan temperature.  I recommend replacing the original pan with and oversize pan commonly labeled as a half size steam table pan.  Always fill and refill with boiling liquid.

Another factor that would seem contrarian is a closed vent will keep the temperature lower than an open vent.  There are certain instances where a closed vent is preferable but that is very seldom.

A problem I have had with the Bradley is heat rising straight up the back above the heating element and then out the flue without  heating the front of the chamber.  This was confirmed with movable chamber probes. This can be corrected this with a foil deflector.  There are also other not so passive solutions that some inventive minds have posted on the recipe site.

The water pan and the foil deflector can be seen in the following thread.

http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=12061.0

A mustard slather will help in the dryness category or use a mop.  If temperature is low, be sure mop and/or glaze is heated prior to applying.

Mustard Slather on Brisket and other Meats
http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=12112.0

To Mop or Not to Mop – That is the Question
http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=14240.0

Calling All Mop Recipes
http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=14446.0

Lastly, I usually place a probe in my ribs so that it is in the thickest part but not touching bone.  I do not use it as a gauge of ribs being done.  It helps curb my curiosity so that I do not open the door to check the progress.  Opening the door creates a time lag of temperature recovery.  When the ribs (St. Louis Cut Pork) hit 175 - 180 IT, I start to pay attention and visually check the ribs regularly at that point and every five degrees thereafter.  It is a lazy man's method.

I am sure other board members will add to what has already been posted and remember what has been left out or make corrections as they see fit.

Good luck and slow smoking,

Pachanga





« Last Edit: October 05, 2010, 10:55:34 pm by Pachanga »

Offline ArnieM

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2010, 10:39:14 pm »
More good advice from Pachanga.  It's key not to put anything cold in there, liquid or mop.  The same advice goes for anything; brisket, butt, chicken, etc.  And keep the door closed.

I don't use a probe on ribs.  This is one thing where I estimate time and then check 'em.  Everything else goes by IT.

I don't foil or sauce my ribs anymore.  People get sauce on the side if they like.  My wife always uses Iceman's Sop'n Sauce but any good Q sauce would do.  If you do sauce them in the cooker, allow 30-60 minutes for the sauce to set up.  Or, transfer the ribs to a grill, sauce them and watch carefully.
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Offline Tenpoint5

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2010, 04:44:14 am »
I am going to go back to your post since everyone has given you great information on your ribs. The 3-2-1 is a great method to follow but it is not an exact science. From your post I am gathering that you had 6 racks of ribs in there.

"End result 1 average semi pull away from the bone rack, 5 super dry (2 racks were Venison which I should not have used the same times and temps for pork)."

That my friend is a pile of meat for a 500 watt element to cook. Not saying that it cant be done. Just saying that it is going to take some time. I would guess that your ribs were not done yet. So that is why they were tough. Except for the venison ribs they were probably over done do to the lack of fat in the meat. I am also guessing you have the Digital 6 rack smoker. with a load this big I probably would have adjusted the the method to more of a 3-3-1 for the pork and 3-1-1 for the venison.
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Offline Caneyscud

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2010, 06:57:33 am »
First, what cut of ribs were they.  If I was trying to learn to do ribs (and it is not all that hard), I'd select one cut of rib and conquer that one first.  I'm partial to spareribs or it's cousin the St. Louis cut (which are only trimmed spareribs).  Back ribs or their cousin Baby back ribs (back ribs, but only smaller from a smaller or a younger pig) are great, but I think slightly harder to get right.  Venison ribs are not easy due to the leanness of the meat. 

Try no more than a couple of racks at a time - far easier to keep track of and maintain.  Select a tried and true technique.  Techniques and recipes are different animals altogether.  Certain techniques such as oven baking - are not well liked here on a smoking forum.  And some such as boiling or parboiling are just plain banned.  Leaving the two main techniques that we on the forum use - the 3-2-1 (et al) method and what has been termed Nekkid.  Basically the 3-2-1 and all its versions incorporate foil (also called the Texas Crutch) and braising for part of the cooking time.  Nekkid refers to NOT using foil for the cooking process.  Recipes include all types of flavors, but include these general styles and methods Brisket Belt style (salt & pepper only), dry rub (rub, but no sauce), brined (not heavily advocated on this forum much) ,marinated (soaking in a wet marinade for a time usually overnight - I would include dry marinate here also), slathering (adding a THIN layer of CYM - cheap yellow mustard - before you add rub), mopping or basting or spritzing (adding liquid to the meat surface during cooking, glazing (adding a thinned down sauce at the end for a glaze and hint of flavor) and saucing (added near the end - adding at the beginning is not recommended because of overbrowning or burning of the sugars inherent in most sauces).  Ribs can be savory or sweet - it is however you like them.  However, the MAIN aim is to get tender and juicy ribs.  First and foremost TENDER and JUICY.  Flavors are your preference, but TENDER AND JUICY is a law.  You might think you want fall off the bone tenderness, but that is technically overdone and you are truly on the precipice, more often over the precipice of dryness.  Fall off the bone is usually drier - it means all the fat and collagen has cooked out.  You go to pick up the rack and it falls apart - not what we are striving for.  Meat should gently pull off the bone.   

I suggest you pick a tried and true technique and recipe.  They are the ones you see often on this forum.  Try it - but do NOT modify it- follow the recipe and techniques exactly -remember, they have worked for others and they will work for you.   Do it another time, then note the things you might like different, then the third time - make your changes.  By then you are probably making tender and juicy ribs.  Just modify the flavors and methods for what you and your family likes.   

At some point I would recommend you try both techniques, both foiled and nekkid.  You might or will probably find you like one over the other.  I've eaten many foiled ribs (not from my smokers) and have enjoyed them immensely.  There is an idea that foiling, adding juice will guarantee juciness and tenderness.  While it can, you also have to be aware that foiling is not a panacea for bad technique or an opportunity to forget about them until you get back home.  Due to pure physics, the foiling intensifies the cooking effect.  Things can get overdone far faster than you think. Great tasting ribs do come from foiling techniques, but for my money I try to K.I.Simpler (I'm not stupid - so I lost the last "S")  ;D  Nekkid is the way I go.  And usually with just salt & pepper or a light sprinkling of a non-sweet rub right before putting them in the smoker - and I frequently mop.  I'm originally from the Texas Brisket Belt, and that is what I grew up with an enjoyed in the Wee Caney days.  I don't slather --- that just sounds too....too....Pachangawy.  Be careful listening to him - he slobbe....err no, I mean he slathers.  Then tries to tell me it is just a mop reduction.  I've seen his pics - that is no mop reduction!  It's yellow - so it's mustard - or at least I hope it is - I can't think of anything else yellow and pleasant that I would want on my meat!!!! :o  I think he has stock in French's!  ;D ;D ;D

One other thing - trust your DBS.  It's there to make your life easier.  You do not have to adjust it up or down, it will chug right along.  I usually set it at 220 or 230 and forget about it until the meat is done.  Yes it can have som big swings at first or as in your instance, does not come up to temp very fast.  As 10.5 said, that was a pretty good load of meat.  All the heat that 500W element and and the 120W  (or thereabouts) puckburner were producing was either being "soaked" up by the mass of meat or going up into the wild blue if you opened the door.  Rest easy it is doing what it is supposed to do.  There are ways (some already discussed) to minimize the initial shock of putting the meat in - pre heating, hot water in the pan, foil wrapped bricks to increase heat mass, etc....  There are also mods and add-ons.  One popular is an addition of a PID.  Nice for tighter control of temps if that is what rocks your boat, but will not make the DBS heat up faster or cook any faster.  It does not matter whether you set 250 on your DBS controls or on a PID control and you stick a big load of meat in and all the heat is going into the meat, the temp is still not going to get back up to 230 until the meat warms up.  The element is either off or on- one speed only.  Sorta the same as your electric stove - you want to get medium temperature, it won't get there faster if you set it on high rather than medium.  Some have added an extra element to help recover from thermal shock faster.  Some have also added heat deflectors or even fans to help circulate the heat in the cabinet better.  All nice - but not necessary for making good 'Q if you get to know your machine a little.  Yes the temps may vary - but that doesn't bother "normal" bbq meats any (some things it does though).  Yes the temperature probe is probably not in the best place for most of your cooks, but it is usually accurate and precise.  If you cook your ribs and the digital temperature readout does not get above 219 the entire smoke, but your ribs are perfect - then guess what - 219 on the digital temperature readout is perfect for doing ribs.  It's all relative!

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Offline Master of Qlinary Arts

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2010, 07:51:52 am »
Thanks for all the quick great advice.  To clear up some of the info I left out

I am using a digital smoker, the pork was baby back but the venison was St. Louis, I did indeed use the probe inside the thickest point of rib meat, I kept the vent closed pretty much the entire time due to the low temperature I was getting.

I'm going to use all this information for round two and I'll post some results.

Thanks Again!

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Offline FLBentRider

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2010, 08:06:00 am »
You will want to keep the vent open.

Closing the vent will cause moisture to build up in your smoker, causing:

1. The temps to stay lower (moist air has more mass to heat)

2. The moist smoky air can condense in your smoker and cause "black rain" - not appetizing at all.

3. Smoke will back up into your smoke generator and will gunk it all up.
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Offline Tenpoint5

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2010, 08:07:35 am »
Thanks for all the quick great advice.  To clear up some of the info I left out

I am using a digital smoker, the pork was baby back but the venison was St. Louis, I did indeed use the probe inside the thickest point of rib meat, I kept the vent closed pretty much the entire time due to the low temperature I was getting.

I'm going to use all this information for round two and I'll post some results.

Thanks Again!

You just answered the heating question!! NEVER close your vent all the way. By closing the vent you trap the moisture inside of the cabinet and that will keep your temps down. It will also build up and rain the black creosote down on your meat and that my friend tastes nasty.
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Offline hal4uk

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2010, 01:07:31 pm »
MQA, ribs can be a little tricky.  You've already been given a lot of good advice, but let me crunch some of that down for you...  It's already been pointed out that MOIST AND TENDER is what you want out of good ribs, right?  Now here's the paradox...  With a Bradley Smoker, you need to keep the vent WIDE OPEN to get the moisture OUT so you can keep the temps UP.  The problem is you need both moisture and heat.  This is why the 3-2-1 method (and it variants) is so popular in the Bradley.  When you foil the ribs, it traps the moisture inside, but your smoker can maintain a steady 225.  However, this is where it gets dicey -- when you foil ribs, you are basically steaming (or practically boiling them) which, can have disastrous side effects.  Steam can pull all of the pork fat/juices and smoke flavor OUT of your ribs.  Therefore, I suggest you do foil your ribs in the Bradley, but be very careful about how long you do it.   
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Offline BuyLowSellHigh

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Re: 1st Bradley Ribs, trouble
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2010, 06:09:04 pm »
Some great advice from some true experts here.  I will add only the following .. preheat, get it up to 250 °F for at least 30 min's at temp before putting anything in.  The once you add the ribs, set the temp and forget it - don't dolt over what the actual is, it will be much lower and probably struggle to get back up for the first three hours.  So long as it's heating, the actual isn't that important provided it doesn't overheat.  This is not your kitchen oven, the recovery of temp in the cabinet can be protracted.  Believe and keep the vent open and the door closed , open halfway to rotate if you have more than one rack loaded.

Personally, I don't use foil or braise methods on ribs anymore - I am like Arnie.  My preferred method is set for 250 °F (it never gets back there), smoke for 3 hrs (rotate halfway through), then pull 'em, put 'em on a rack in a sheet pan and transfer to the kitchen oven set at 250 until they are done and tender as I judge by meat pullback, tug, bend, etc.

Ribs can be very finicky, no matter how you cook them.  Keep working at it, take notes along the way and you will hit rib nirvana.
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