Couple question needing some advice for Baby Backs

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by chitownsmoker99, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. I bought a new smoker, the Smokin -It #3. I smoked some baby backs a couple of weeks ago. I used Hickory wood blocks, its what came with the smoker. The guy who owns Smokin-it recommended a temp of 220 for 4 hours. At 4 hours they were no where near done. Waited another hour, still not done. After 6.5 hours I said screw we need to eat and put them on the grill.

    Ribs, where a little dry, the meat never started to pull off the bone. Once i put them on the grill the meat started to pull off the bone, I then slapped on the BBQ sauce and they were good. Not great.

    The old smoker i used was the Brinkman electric smoker. The pan in the bottom was pretty big, i would fill that up with beer and water. It was the tube style smoker.

    My new smoker, has a different set up. Its a box, and no pan at the bottom for water and beer.. I bought a metal box to put in the smoker to get some water and beer in there but its no where near the amount i used to be able to put in my old smoker.

    I will be doing 8 or 9 slabs of Baby back Ribs this weekend.

    WHAT TEMP should I set it at?????

    Not going to use hickory again. Going to the store to see what they got. Either Pecan or Apple. I used to use chips, the last smoke i used the blocks. These were recommended.

    I know its going to take some trial and error using a new smoker but What is the best temp to smoke baby back ribs at and how long.

    My old smoker it was turn it on, 6 hours later my riibs were perfect!
  2. imsmokingpork

    imsmokingpork Fire Starter

    hello friend...i would recomend putting them in your smoker at about 250 using the 3-2-1 method. i usually cook for 3 hours in the smoker and then double foil them with a mixture of half white grape juice and half apple juice and some of my rub for 2 hours and then back out of the foil for another hour and this is when i usually start slathering on my home made bbq sauce about every 15 or 20 mins. everyone loves them when i smoke baby backs in this manner. the grape juice and apple juice and rub mixture is something that you will have to experiment with to find out what your personal preference is. if you need to know anything else, just let me know. be glad to help however i can .
  3. A few suggestions first.

    1.  I'm assuming you used the built-in thermometer on the new smoker?  Recommend you test it with boiling water or against a good digital one.  The cheap thermometers they put in a lot of smokers can be 30-40 degrees off!

    2.  Smoke: I use hickory a lot for baby backs - I like the flavor.  I often mix it with some cherry to get that reddish color, or pecan or apple.  I have also done all pecan and gotten good flavor.

    I normally run 230 for baby backs.  220 is OK, it will take a bit longer.

    At 230, you will find a lot of people on this site use the 2-2-1 guideline.  2 hrs. exposed to smoke, 2 hrs. foiled (maybe with some apple juice in the foil), 1 hr. back exposed to smoke - with an optional coating of sauce in the last hour if you want to glaze them  5 hours total.  If you want more smoke flavor and a more bark-like surface, eliminate the foiling.

    4 hours at 220 (if it really was 220) is low.  The reason I suspect your thermometer might be off is that you said that you let them go to 6.5 hours at 220 - that is a good time for that temp.

    pans with liquid are used to:

    1) put a barrier between heat and meat to make it more indirect

    2) help stabilize the temperature - the water acts as a heat sink.

    But, it takes a lot of energy to heat up that liquid.  If you have a good, reasonably stable temp - you are just wasting fuel to heat up the liquid.  I only use liquid in a big horizontal smoker with an offset wood box, where I am feeding sticks into it.

    blocks vs. chips

    Chips often ignite easier - more edges and thinner edges than blocks.  Blocks will usually burn (and smoke) longer.  If you are getting good ignition and temp control with blocks -  they should do fine.

    I hope some of this helps - there is always some train and error on a new smoker!
  4. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    I would recommend a smoking temp of 225 and use the 2-2-1 method for baby backs. 2 hours on the grates then 2 hours foiled add a little juice before sealing the foil then out of the foil and back on the grate for .45 minutes to 1 hour. Doing that many racks you can put them in a pan and foil over the entire pan if you want. For foiling juice you can use many things I usually use either apple juice or I get some squeeze butter and use that along with honey that comes out very good. If you want to baste with BBQ sauce do it the last 30-45 minutes to lessen the chance of the sugar in the sauce burning.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  5. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    very nice tips there. You can heat up your water pan water before putting it in and that negates the heating up deal. happy smoking.
  6. Thank you guys all for your help. I did some more research on my old smoker. My brother and friend have the same smoker I had before. We did a batch of baby backs yesterday on my brothers, the temp was in the 240 range. The big bowl of water and beer had about an 1inch to an inch and half evaporate from the bowl, where as my new smoker there was zero water and beer that evaporated. Im guessing the temp at 220 didnt get the water heated up enough to evaporate.

    Do you guys preheat your smokers? The user guide for my new smoker says not to.

    I will preheat my liquid to see if that helps.

    Yesterday my bro and I smoked the baby backs for 6 hours. They turned out great. I took two slabs after the 6 hours and wrapped them in foil, with squeeze butter, honey and brown sugar. Put them back in the smoker for another hour just to try it out. The taste turned out great but they were falling off the bone a little too easy. It was a last second idea, with doing the foil we didnt need to smoke them that long before applying the foil. After the foiling we put them on the grill and basted with BBQ sauce. I see why a lot people do this, the taste was great.

    With the smoke, foil and smoke process what is the purpose to take back out of the foil and smoke again. I wondering what are you achieving by putting back in smoker after the 2 hours of foil smoking?

    I do like a good bark on my ribs so im wondering if smoking for 4 hours and then two hours in foil would do the trick??
  7. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    The reason for putting them back on the grate after the foil is to firm them back up and finish cooking them. When you go to take them out of the foil you find they are about to fall apart but after the next .45 - hour they should be firmed up quite a bit. Personally I use a 2-1.5-1 most of the time and find they are good for our tastes
  8. Any cooking device takes time to reach the set temp and usually (if it has any kind of controller) oscillates for a bit.  I like to let my temperature stabilize so I have a better idea of how long and what temps I actually use for my cooking logs.  The amount of time varies by smoker.

    If you like the bark, reduce or eliminate the foiling.  The foiling "steams" the ribs - increasing moisture and giving you that fall-off-the-bone texture.  If you keep the temp steady under 220, you are not going to lose much moisture in the meat. 

    Moisture in the meat is your friend in low and slow cooking.  Water boils away at 212.  Water conducts heat much more efficiently than the meat fibers do.  Maintaining moist meat ensures that the heat is conducted inside the meat - improving the cooking process.  On the other hand, part of the bark process is creating that crust - which is usually a dried out outer layer infused with intense flavors (rubs, sauce, smoke, etc.)  Steam softens that bark.  it is all a matter of what your tastes are - and then learning each new smoker to find the right combination to get the food coming out the way you like it.

    It sounds like you are well on your way to learning your new smoker!  And it is so much fun "disposing" of the different experiments!  My neighbors love it when I experiment with something new - because I use them for taste testing...!
  9. After taking them out of the foil, to smoke or not smoke is your choice.   Most people who do turn the smoke back on, do so to add some smoke to a store bought BBQ sauce, they like that flavour.  Ribs, be they Baby Backs or other, are the cooker choice of how to do them. After several smokes, you too will get your way, from hints provided her, mix them up as you please, but within 6 smokes, you will have perfected it. 

    All ribs I smoke, I marinate in Cider Vinegar, Honey and Veg Oil, for 36 to 48 hour, overhaul them every 12 hours or so.  The nthe night before the smoke, take them out, rinse them off, apply honey as my glue fro my rub, wrap them tight in Plastic wrap overnight, then next day, while I am getting out and setting my smoker, they are sitting bareback on the counter, coming to ambient temp before going in the smoke.  Then, depending on which ribs I have, they smoke for 2 - 2 -1 or 3 - 2 - 1 I smoke them all at 225 degrees.  I use no liquid in my pan, until the they come out of the foil, if I plan or feel like it.

    And when all is said and done, they are delicious; folks who went to our local Ribfest say mine are better.

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    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013

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