My pork ribs tasted like a tire fire! lol

Started by DerekS, June 24, 2014, 10:51:37 AM

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So this was my first attempt at using my smoker and it did not go well. I am certain it has nothing to do with the smoker and everything to do with the operator. I did up some pork spareribs and used the recipe for sweet and sour ribs in the recipe book that cam with.  I used cherry wood as I had a lot of it because it was on sale at Target lol. Cooked the ribs for an hour in the oven, sauced them and put in the smoker for another 3. The ribs ended up tasting like burnt rubber and I found them a bit on the chewy side... not fall off the bone as I expected. As I said, this was my first attempt and I am sure I have ALOT to learn still, but I want to get it right before I start doing larger, more expensive pieces of meat. Could the damper have something to do with it? Maybe I need it open wider?? Any advice or wisdom to share with me? I can't wait to get this mastered so I can really enjoy it!


Jim O

Welcome ! As far as the vent goes,I don't think I could close mine even if I wanted to ! Can't go wrong leaving it wide open in most cases.
I'm sure someone else will offer advice on your ribs.
- smoking
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- how do I find time to sleep !


First, welcome aboard.

It sounds like you didn't let the smoke penetrate the meat by initially cooking them in the oven and covering them with sauce before you put them in the smoker.  As meat cooks it stops absorbing smoke as well as when it first starts out.  I've read that 140 degrees is about the cutoff point when more smoke is mostly wasted.  Also, by putting sauce on them you were shielding the smoke from getting to the ribs.

You can cook ribs entirely in the Bradley.  Have you heard about the 3-2-1 method for cooking ribs?  3 hours in the smoker with smoke rolling, followed by 2 hours of the ribs sealed tightly in foil with  1/2 cup or so of apple juice, followed by 1 hour out of the foil in the smoker to firm up the meat slightly.  You can adjust those times based on whether you're cooking spare ribs, baby backs or whatever.

Here's a tutorial:  How To Make Ribs in a Bradley Pictorial

Also, you may not have had the vent open far enough.  If it is closed too much it builds up black rain which drips down on the meat and causes a bitter taste.  Many people leave the vent all the way open.  I generally like to leave it 1/2-3/4 open.


Derek, if you can give us more details, folks here can help you get your ribs dialed in.  Key data are things like what temperatures you used, how long you applied smoke, vent damper position, etc.

So, I'm going to start off by making some assumptions and offer some suggestions based on those assumptions.

The fact that the ribs were chewy makes me wonder if the temperature in your oven or in your smoker was too high.  I cook ribs at 225F - 250F.  Low temps and long times allow the collagen in the meat to break down so the meat becomes tender.  Another thought is that your ribs may not have been completely cooked.  Many folks here use variations of the 3-2-1 method for spareribs.  The 3-2-1 is the time allotted for different steps of the process.  So, you can see, people plan for about six hours of smoking and cooking time for spareribs.  Baby back ribs take a little less time, but I plan for about 4 1/2 to 5 hours for baby backs, depending on how thick they are.

I think that your burnt tire flavor, as you suspect, is from having the vent damper closed too much.  I'd suggest that, for ribs, you have the damper about 3/4 open.  And if you are doing several racks of ribs, maybe all the way open.  My opinion is that almost all smoking should be done with the damper at least half way open.  (After an unfortunate situation where I forgot the damper closed and ruined 5 pounds of sausage, I removed the adjustable part of the damper mechanism from my smoker to prevent future "oh dang's".  Smoker works fine that way.  Some other forum members have made the same modification.  I assume for similar reasons.)


Thanks for the tip and the post! So you only use smoke for the first 3 hours? This makes a lot more sense to me than the way the recipe says to do it.

Habanero Smoker

Hi Derek;

Welcome to the forum.

As mentioned more information would be useful. Looking at your times, especially the time you had them in the Bradley, the toughness was likely due to them being undercooked. When I cook ribs in the Bradley I use 1:40 - 2:00 hours of smoke. I prefer pecan. For cooking ribs in the Bradley try using the pictorial that TedEBear linked.



Thanks again Guys!

I had it below 200 as the recipe said to keep it at 150, but I couldn't seem to maintain that low of a temperature for any length of time.  I applied smoke for the full 3 hours as the recipe directed me.  I'm starting to think that I should have just came here rather that use the recipe lol


Others have different opinions on this, but I'm firmly entrenched in the "vent wide open at all times" camp. I never have it anything but wide open no matter what is in the smoker.

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Where there's smoke, there's HAPPINESS!!!


Quote from: DerekS on June 24, 2014, 01:37:01 PM
I had it below 200 as the recipe said to keep it at 150, but I couldn't seem to maintain that low of a temperature for any length of time.

Wow, that's way too low.  Are you sure that wasn't 150C instead of 150F?  Anyway, I cook ribs at 225*F, using a variation of the 3-2-1 method.