Baby back ribs a little dry still

Discussion in 'Pork' started by falconer, Jun 28, 2014.

  1. falconer

    falconer Newbie

    Hi all. Just finished a great meal of baby backs. The only problem was that the thickest part of the ribs was too dry for my liking. Here's my setup and process:

    Ribs are basic vacuum-packed from Safeway (all I can get here). GOSM propane smoker. Get it going with a mix of cherry chips and hickory chunks. Basic rub on the ribs (Brn sugar, salt, smoked paprika, cayenne, onion, garlic, chili powder, ancho) Set temp at around 200ºF but fluctuated to as high as 214ºF (using Redi-Check remote digital thermometer). Cannot get this smoker to go any cooler, and it climbs as it smokes longer. I end up having to open it sometimes to let out some of the heat. (want to be able to use lower temp but that's another story)

    Initial smoke for 2 hours. Spray with apple cider after half an hour, and every time I open the door. At the end of the two hours, when I pull the ribs with tongs held halfway, I get about a 1 inch drop at the end. Not bad. Into the foil they go. Foiling sauce is Brn sugar, honey, apple juice, butter, and Frank's hot sauce, applied liberally. Half a slab per package. Package sealed tightly.

    Last time I did this I foiled them for 2 hours and they were a little dry in the thick part as well. This time I went 4 hours in the foil.  After that, they got a basting with BBQ sauce and back into the smoker for about 45 minutes.

    Flavor was great, fall-off-the-bone tender, but the meaty thick section is too dry. The thinner and fatty parts were perfect. Tender and juicy. But the thick part was not...

    Here's a photo of the finished product:

    Any thoughts on what I might be doing wrong? I've considered longer time in the initial smoke, but I've had that dry things out too much. Maybe more time in the foil? Maybe foil not tightly sealed? Maybe I can't get any better results with Safeway ribs? I don't know. I have had ribs from restaurants that were not dry in the thick part, so I know it's possible. I just don't know what I have to do to get there.

    Looking forward to hearing from you folks... Thanks!

  2. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I have had this issue as well with really thick baby backs. I'm not a butcher or an expert of any kind, but I believe those thick baby backs have meat from the loin on them, which is not as fatty and would get dry when cooked to the IT required for tender ribs. I'm sure someone with more knowledge on this will stop by and help you ou!
  3. falconer

    falconer Newbie

    I should clarify; the ribs were pull-the-bone-out tender, not really fall-off-the-bone...
  4. Four hours in the foil seem like a long time , how much apple juice did you use?
  5. falconer

    falconer Newbie

    In the foil? It was the basting sauce, not just apple juice. Slathered it on the ribs but there was probably only a few tablespoons in the bottom of the package.

    There was about a half cup of liquid in the foil per package after the foiling.
  6. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    One thing you can do to help your GOSM with temps is to install a needle valve. Dona little search here to get more info on that. With babysitting you'll be able to get as low as 130* and as high as you want, 500+.

    For your ribs I would shoot for smoker temps in the range of 250-265. I run mine there and Baby backs take 4-5 hour total. I typically run mine straight on the rack until done. Sometimes I will use the 2-2-1 method (2 hours on grate, 2 hours foiled, last hour on grate) or a modification of that method. For spares and beef ribs use the 3-2-1 method.
    Keep in mind the times are a guide. I usually end up reducing the foil time. After a hour or so in the foil I'll do a bend test to see where they are at.

    When cooking straight on the grate I do a bend test every 30 minutes starting at about hour 3. Also look at the pull back on the bones.
  7. Ribs looked great Yum !!!!

    Gary S
  8. falconer

    falconer Newbie

    I'm going to look into the needle valve thing. That looks promising. But short of that, I always heard you needed to do the foiling thing to keep the meat from drying out. Not the case? I tried a 3-hour smoke a while ago and the ribs got noticeably harder on the outside. I may have to do some more experimenting with that method.
  9. falconer

    falconer Newbie

    I might try some thinner slabs and even trim off the loin part you mention. Because that's the ONLY part that's dry... Anyone else know more about this? I've heard the "extra meaty" ribs are supposed to be better, but I'm not finding that to be the case..
  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    There is no need to foil any meat to keep it moist if you cook/smoke at the right temps. With that said the 2-2-1, or 3-2-1 methods (use the search feature on this site it's really good) produces great ribs. The crusty exterior you're talking about is called bark and most BBQ fanatics like that, as long as the meat under is still moist and tender. Excessive can be formed if to much sugar is used in the tub and it can be bitter. Over cooked sugar is bitter but also the wrong type of smoke can make the bark & meat bitter. Heavy white smoke is not good. Thin blue smoke is what you want.
  11. I smoke my ribs at 225º  use the 3-2-1 method at a guide. I spritz my ribs during the first 2 - 3 hours, then when I wrap I use a little squeeze butter, honey, seasoning and a heavy spritzing. Main thing is keep an eye on your ribs and the heat, if they are drying out quickly, my guess is to much heat. It may take you a couple of times to get them exactly how you like them, anyway gives you an excuse to smoke another batch.

    Gary S
  12. falconer

    falconer Newbie

    What I had on those was more than bark. I usually get a pretty good bark, but this was excessive. Your point about the sugar is VERY good, though. I do use brown sugar in my rub and what you're saying makes a lot of sense. I may try a rub without (or with only a small amount of) sugar next time.
  13. craigdchang

    craigdchang Fire Starter

    I ran into the same thing this weekend. I am using a Mes 30. I rubbed with a little mustard and my own dry rub. It sat over night and then into the smoker. I did the 3-2-1 with a temp of about 230 to 240.It looked great but was a little dry. The flavor was on point. These baby backs were really thick and meaty. I thought I over cooked them. After the first 3 hours I added about a half cup for fresh apple cider and wrapped them up. After the 2 hours they looked really good, but they were dark. and the edges looked dry. As it turned out the thinner the meat on the bone the juicer it was. So if the ribs are lean but thick, should you cook them longer to make them juicer? or add more liquid for the wrapping stage? I guess I should have sauced them in the last hoping for the true flavor of the smoke before adding the sauce.

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