First smoke ever - babyback ribs - mixed results!!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by easterbran, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. easterbran

    easterbran Newbie

    Inherited a Brinkman horizontal Smoke-n-Pit with my new lakehome.  Never used one before, but it seemed in good shape.  Never smoked meats before, so thought I would try a new tradition with the family at the lake.  Bought some babyback ribs from Walmart.  Made a rub with paprika, onion, red/black pepper, basil and garlic.  Read as much as I could on this forum on how to light the smoker (minion method), how to use a chimney starter, 3-2-1 method for fall-off-the-bone ribs, foil packs with mesquite chips for TBS, etc.  Started the process at 7am this morning.  Wrapped up around 3:30 this afternoon with mixed results.  The ribs were not completely done as I would like.  Still seemed a bit under-cooked, and didn't quite pass the bend test.  But I was out of charcoal, so I moved them into my propane grill and finished them off there.

    The thing I had the most trouble with was keeping the heat at 225-250 for the duration.  It started out fine and stayed in range for 3 hours or so.  Then started to drop.  I opened the damper until it was all the way open, but couldn't get the temperature back to the 200s.  So I threw in a few new briquets, and it rose to around 180, then dropped again.  So, finally used the chimney again and emptied what I had left of the coal into it, started it, and put it in.  Best I got was around 190 or so.  Finally, with everyone hungry, I finished it off in the grill.

    I'm looking for some tips on how to regulate the temperature better.  I believe that was the reason why I couldn't get the ribs cooked and tender enough in the smoker.  Didn't keep it at 220-240 for 5+ hrs. 

    (1)  Did I start with too few briquets?  Since they lasted 3 hours, maybe I just needed to empty the bag of coal in the first setup itself.

    (2)  Is it normal to need to completely replace the first load with another during a 5-6 hour cooking session?

    (3)  What is the temperature zone I cannot fall below to smoke a good batch of ribs?  If I see the temperature falling, what are the quick things I can do to bring it back up again short of a complete reload of coal?

    I plan to try again next weekend, so any tips/tricks you can offer a beginner meat smoker would be deeply appreciated.

  2. pigeyex

    pigeyex Fire Starter


    Is this the rectangular vertical Brinkman?  I've got that same one, and used to have the same problems keeping the temps up.  The main problem is the charcoal pan -- is it solid?  It helps to drill a bunch of 1/4" or so holes in it, bottom and even sides, but the best luck I had was when I replaced the pain with a stainless steel veggie grill basket (like a mesh).  Those Brinkman charcoal pans simply don't get enough air flow to get your temps up to the 225 degree sweet spot.

    Since I did the smoker mod, I've had phenomenal results with the 3-2-1 method.

  3. ugaboz

    ugaboz Smoking Fanatic

    yea that is a long time to cook ribs
  4. easterbran

    easterbran Newbie

    Pigeyex - it is not a vertical.  It is a horizontal with an offset firebox.  The charcoal pan in the firebox is a grate, so there should be plenty of airflow below and around it.  Thanks for the response though.  Glad you figured yours out.
  5. smokinal

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

    Not familiar with your smoker, but someone who has one will be along shortly to help you. In the meantime you could use the search box & type in Brinkman Smoke-n-Pit mods. & see what comes up. Also, welcome to SMF.

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