First smoke, advice?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by jeeper6262, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. jeeper6262

    jeeper6262 Newbie

    Just picked up a masterbilt 30" electric, am in the process of preseasoning it now. This is my first smoker and my first time smoking anything will be a bunch of ribs on Tuesday. Have a few questions...

    Type of ribs, any suggestions? Never bought ribs before. Any recipes for an easy dry rub. Is the most common process to apply the rub then let it sit for 24 hours? When its time to smoke from what I've read, preheat smoker to 225, ribs in for 3 hours, out and wrapped in tin foil and back in for 2 hours, then stuck in a cooler for an hour, or the 3-2-1 method.

    Other questions I have are, is the meat supposed to warm up before it goes in? Assuming it doesn't go in stone cold. What situations do I add water to the pan? How do I know when to add more wood chips, when theres no more smoke :)?

    So many questions... Thanks for the help!
  2. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I cant help ya on the smoker as I don't have an electric, I run a LPG MF 2 door, and single door that Lowe's sells, and a WSM smoker. 

    I personally like the 3-2-1 method 3hr smoked 2 hrs foiled, 1 hour out of foil to firm them up. The wrapping and unwrapping does add time to the smoke I find it takes right around 7 hours. 

    As for the rub to use you will get a wide variety of opinions here, I personally use a stock rub and tweak it to my liking, I sample a bit and then add this and that, I haven't made rib rub in awhile, I still had some left. My smoke I did on Wednesday/Thursday i just used a stock rub, and they were good.
  3. Jeeper6262, welcome to the forum.  I'll respond with my humble $0.02 and I'm sure you'll get a ton of additional great advice from others on this forum.

    As for 'which ribs to buy', that's really a personal preference but most guys go with either spare ribs or baby backs... I personally like baby backs.  Just remember to take the membrane off (both have the membrane) before applying your dry rub.  The membrane is a thin white tissue that is on the inside of the rib.  It doesn't allow the flavor of your rub or the smoke to penetrate the meat on the inside of the ribs.

    As for bringing your ribs up to room temp before putting them in the smoker, I usually do and it can't hurt but honestly, for all the years I've been smoking I don't think it makes all that much difference but again, that's in my humble opinion.

    As for rubs, everyone has their favorite.  There are a zillion recipes out there... pick one and go with it.  You'll eventually come up with your own favorite or your own recipe.

    As for water in the pan, start with water in your pan when you fire up the smoker and add water when the pan is about 1/4 from being empty.  Just keep in mind, when you dump cold water in that pan, you're also stealing heat from the meat.  The fresh water has to come back up to temp, so don't be surprised if you see a temp drop after adding fresh/cold water.  Sometimes I intentionally let my water pan go dry the last hour of the smoke.  By eliminating the extra moisture, I seem to get a better 'bark' on pork in my gasser.  I would think this might be the case in an electric smoker as well.  Maybe others can comment on this that are more familiar with doing ribs in an electric.  I have read where decent 'bark' can be a problem in an electric but again, I'll defer to folks with more experience with electrics.

    As for wood chips, keep in mind you don't want to see billowing white smoke for hours and hours.  What you're looking for is called a 'thin blue line' of smoke aka TBL.  It's almost invisible - some call it Ninja smoke.  It's common when you first add fresh chips/chunks to get some white smoke but you really want that thin - almost invisible - blue smoke for the duration of the smoking time.  You can add more chips/chunks when there is no more smoke coming from the smoker.  Also, and other will have more/better advice, you may not want to have wood chips going the entire time of the smoke.  You can - believe it or not - over smoke meat.  This really comes down to a personal preference.  Some folks like a hint of smoke on their meat and others love a full blown hickory blast. 

    Most important thing about this 'religion' is to:  1) relax... it usually all works out in the end  2) don't worry about the time it takes to smoke, this is all about low and slow... it's done when it's done.  It's all about the internal temp of the meat.  If you rush it, you can get burnt rubber.  You want those succulent fall off the bone ribs!  and 3)  Enjoy it!  This is all supposed to be fun.. with the reward being some great eats!!!!!

    Shout out and there are a ton of great folks on the forum that will help.

    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  4. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    welcome to SMF !!! Great place and lots and lots of info on here.

    can't go wrong with Babyback ribs. only need to do the 2-2-1 on babyback.

    as far as the rub, I use Jeff's rub recipe. Well worth the money.

    I put the rub on the night before or first thing in the morning.

    few hours before works fine.  

    the membrane can be a pain to take off. I run warm water over the membrane

     it will peal off easy


    Good luck with your first smoke !!!!!
  5. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    This site has tons of info.

    I suggest you spend some time reading all the different forums and the WIKIs.

    Ask questions and use the handy dandy search tool for specific interests!!

    Take the awesome free E-Course!!!

    Have a great day!!!

          Make bacon the easy way!!
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  7. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    First off welcome to SMF there Jeeper. Theses guy have taken pretty goo care of you so welcome.You'll really like this place for there are a bunch of really good folks here that would just love to help you with just about anything to do with smoking meat. Then if you have any questions you just post them here or yu can try in chat for a faster answer. If you are really new to all of this I would recommend that you look up and take the e-course. It is free and it will also give you the basics on smoking. So with all that said now go and get something to smoke.

    Welcome To Your New Addiction
  8. All above good points mine is to let ribs rest about 15 minutes after you take out of you smoker. Also they are done when you see pull back from bone and if you twist bone it sould pull from meat very easy.  PS if you do chichen and ribs at same time be sure to place chicken on Bottom rack so juices from chicken DOES NOT DRIP on yor ribs. FYI

    Also Jeff has a good rub avaiable that you can order and items are easy to obtian local.

    best of luck.
  9. jeeper6262

    jeeper6262 Newbie

    Wow... I leave to get some wood chip and come back to a wealth of info. Ive been in many different forums for many different things, never got as much help as I got here, all within a couple hours! I would have read more in the forums but being a holiday weekend time is not on my side. Still have Xmas shopping to do, ugh...

    Great info. I'm sure I'll learn much more after I start smoking. My only question now is about how many racks comfortably feed 6. Also, which type of wood is best for babybacks? I'm really looking forward to this. Many thanks again for all the help.
  10. How many racks per person really depends on the the folks.  My rule of thumb for baby backs is one rack per person.  I always pre-cut my ribs before serving them.  This way, the folks that wouldn't normally eat a whole rack.. leave a few for the folks that would want more than just a rack....also depends on how many side dishes you're going to put out.  Less side, more meat...

    As for wood, hard to go wrong with hickory, pecan or even oak in a pinch - but wood for smoking is like wine.  Everyone has a personal preference.

    Again, shout out if we can help!

    Happy smokin' and happy holidays!

  11. sunman76

    sunman76 Master of the Pit

    Howdy and welcome!

    Dont forget the Q view[​IMG]
  12. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Good luck & welcome to SMF!
  13. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks like the guys got you covered.

    I am not familiar with your smoker but I will post my rib cooks on the GOSM and my stickburner.

    I always preheat to 300° and above before adding the food and bring the temps down slowly, this is much better than trying to bring temps up.

    You are going to get many opinions on this subject, just do what you feel comfortable with and remember to take detailed notes.

    Every smoker and every smoke can have different results, due to the fact that there are so many variables.

    My Basic pork rub.

    • 1/3 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
    • 1-1/2 cup (packed) Brown Sugar
    • 1-1/4 cup paprika
    • 1 Tbsp freshly coarse ground black pepper
    • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
    • ¼ cup dried onion flakes
    • ¼ cup onion powder
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 2 tsp chili powder
    • 2 tsp coriander
    • 1 Tbsp rosemary
    Sorry this is so long, just skim through it maybe something may help you out.


    (Smoked on GOSM)

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    Ribs are prepped by trimming up St. Louis style, removing membrane then coated heavily with rub the night before, no mustard, I have cut back on the black pepper in my Rib Rub because of how much rub I use on the ribs, it was a bit spicy for some of the family.

    St. Louis Style Video

    So far the best luck with the ribs have been a modified 3 - 2 - 1

    • -3- Smoking at 225° for a maximum of 3 hours uncovered in a rib rack.
    • -2- Place in a steamer pan, bone side down and foil for 1 hour 40 minutes.
    • -1- Then remove foil and smoke another 40-45 minutes.

    I was getting a bit annoyed at how much juice was lost after removing the foil, so I decided to leave the ribs in the pan for the final part of the cook, foil removed, and as you can see from the above photo, there's no loss of juices.
    I just mix the juices from the pan and barbecue sauce as it's brushed on the ribs.
    I have also had better success with using a rib rack as opposed to laying the ribs flat.

    This gives me ribs that are easy to slice clean without tearing the meat and mangling the rib.
    The result is pull of the bone clean just where you bite into it without the whole piece of meat coming off in 1 shot and slapping you upside your chin.
    My previous Rib cooks, the ribs were good but slightly dry on the outside (thicker bark formation), making it hard to slice through cleanly and the meat all coming off in one shot, however, there are some that prefer it that way!

    The ribs are cut down, brushed thoroughly with BBQ Sauce and the juices in the pan and served in a steamer pan.
    The ribs will go a good part of the day wi
    thout drying out.

    Rib Cook 04/23/2011 smoked on stickburner

    The family was wanting some ribs, so I threw some spares on "Frank" with some Chili, Japs and Dino eggs.
    For this smoke I used Kingsford Original Charcoal as a main fuel source, this was actually a test run using charcoal on "Frank".

    Since the majority of the Family likes fall off the bone ribs, (I prefer a bit of tug), these were cooked the standard  3 - 2 - 1 method at about 225° - 250° for a good 6 hours, I prepped and rubbed the Ribs just prior to placing them in the smoker.

    After I got the charcoal going, added a split  of cherry, left the firebox door open until the split settled down a bit and threw the ribs in the smoker on a rib rack, setup the Maverick ET732 and went upstairs for a little break before starting my Meatsapalooza Chili.


    The photos above show my method for rubbing the ribs,(ribs are trimmed St. Louis style).
    I have found this to work best for me, many will use mustard because of the instant sticking power of the mustard base, however I see no need for it, (but use it if it makes you happy), the ribs will sweat from the rub and stick just fine within an hour

    • -3- Smoking at 225° - 250° for a maximum of 3 hours uncovered in a rib rack.
    • -2- Place in a steamer pan, bone side down and foil, smoke for 2 hours.
    • -1- Then remove foil and smoke another hour.


    A steamer pan was placed on the reverse flow plate just below the ribs to catch any drippings, believe it or not you really wont catch much the first 3 hours, you will get most of your juice from the foiling.

    Ribs were spritzed several times after the first hour.

    After the first 3 hours the ribs were placed bone side down in the steamer pan then foiled, you do not need to add any liquid but many will still add some to the foiled ribs.

    Two hours later the foil was removed and the ribs were cooked another hour in the pan with no foil, you can rotate the ribs after a half hour (moving the bottom ribs to the top that are covered by the top ribs)

    One hour later the ribs are removed and allowed to rest up to a half an hour before slicing.The ribs were cut down, brushed thoroughly with Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce and the juices in the pan.

    The ribs were good, the family loved them I was just about to run a rack over to my neighbor when Sam, my younger daughter came in with a bunch of friends... so looks like my neighbors out of luck, they loved the ribs and the Meatsapalooza chili.
    I don't think these kids ever had ribs or chili before.
    I was a little surprised on the smoke ring since I primarily used charcoal, I would have imagined lesser of a ring.

    My notes on this cook
    I would not cook them this way for a party where they would sit in a steamer pan for any length of time, I would use the modified 3 - 2 - 1 illustrated in the beginning of this page, they were good for dinner but as far as left overs go, about 2 - 3 days and they're a tad dry.
    I don't care for such a huge pull back either but then again these ribs were to satisfy my family and not me, I am the black sheep.

    Rib Cook 5/23/11


     Rubbed and Resting  Into "Frank" on the rib rackAlmost There


     Almost there  Ready for foiling  Vacuum Sealed and into the freezer for next weeks camping trip
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  14. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I like Hickory for Ribs and with a mix of Ladies and Men, I figure 2 racks for 3 people if the Ribs are the only Protein...Or, 1/2 Rack per person if there are other meats, a variety of sides and/or starches like Mac n' Cheese...JJ
  15. jeeper6262

    jeeper6262 Newbie

    Great tips guys, thanks again. Looks like I'm out of questions for now which isn't a bad thing!

    Will be sure to post some pics when I have them.

    Happy holidays!
  16. jeeper6262

    jeeper6262 Newbie

    Ok... Bought 6 racks of ribs, too long for the smoker so removed the membrane, cut in half, rubbed, wrapped, in the fridge. Next morning turned on smoker at about 6:30am (electric, 29f starting temp) took about 30 min to get to 250f which I was shooting for to compensate for the heat loss. When ribs went in took about another half hour or longer to get back up to 225f. In for 2 hours, out to be foiled, back in for 2 hours, foil removed, back in for an hour with no water pan. They came out great! Got that nice fall off the bone with a stiffer outer texture.

    Foiling...  I made the mistake of foiling each half rack separate which took way too much time wrapping as well as unwrapping.  Next time could I get away with just wrapping them in groups of 3 or 4 half racks, side by side? Then adding apple juice would make more sense. Wasn't easy to add a 1/4 cup to each package to I ended up just adding a splash in each. 

    Another thing that could have been improved was the smoke flavor. I only added wood chips twice and only when I opened the smoker. There was thin smoke the entire time so I didn't think adding chips was necessary.  I also didn't add chips the last hour which was probably the biggest reason. Maybe this is just a characteristic of electric smokers, but the ribs could have been more smokey. 

    If sauce is going to be added to the ribs is the best time just after the last hour?

    Also, whats the best way to reheat? 

    Thanks again for the help!  

  17. redheelerdog

    redheelerdog Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Hi Jeeper - You done damn good for a first rib smoke - Those look good! - I have the same 30" MES that you have and I end up cutting the racks just like you did. Good job, I put some more comments in the quote above. Nice job.


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