Having a tough time with my ribs

Discussion in 'Pork' started by shaun h, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. I keep getting what looks like mushy type ribs. They taste ok, but are not as juicy as I like, and certainly don't have the pretty looking meat with the smoke ring that I want. Before I bought this WSM I used to use my gas grill, and I have to say it would come out better. I don't know what I am doing wrong. But now after cooking the meat is not a uniform piece, but when you cut it into individual ribs, you see the meat has pulled apart from itself, looks darker than I want, and is kind of stringy/mush appearance.

    Am I over smoking it? I usually put about 3 chunks of wood, is that too much? I try to keep it around 225 using a maverick thermometer. The first hour I usually spend trying to lock it in, but the meat is on. Should I do something differently with that? I don't use the foil method, just usually go about 5 hours without messing with it. Any advice or help?
  2. danmcg

    danmcg OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I really can't help ya much here, But was wondering if maybe the ribs were enhanced?
  3. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Group Lead OTBS Member

    My first thought was about the quality of the ribs. Were they spares or loin backs? How much did they weigh?

    Did you use water in the waterpan?
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2011
  4. ecto1

    ecto1 Group Lead OTBS Member

    Falling apart,dry sounds overcooked to me.  Could not tell you for sure when is the last time you checked the accuracy of your therometer?
  5. smokinal

    smokinal Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree with Ecto, sounds overcooked.

    If you haven't tried the 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 method, you may want to give that a try.

    But first I would check your therm for accuracy.
  6. tjohnson

    tjohnson Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use a modified version of the 3=2=1 method

    3 Hours Smoke @ 225°

    2 Hours Foil W/Apple Juice Added

    Finish on the grill for about 5 minutes per side

  7. Well, I'm no expert but 5 hours without foiling may be the problem. Pretty much everyone foils in the middle of the smoke and that seems to be the key to good ribs. 2-2-1, 3-2-1, or some variation, try it and see what happens.

  8. I haven't.  I bought it new about 4 months ago.  How should I go about checking the accuracy?
  9. Here's what I do every couple of months...

    ...boil water...check temp, adjust

  10. So look for 212, and then figure out how to fix the thermometer if needed.  Ok.  Thanks I will do this today.
  11. Stick the ends of both probes in rapidly boiling water. Water boils at 212˚f or 100˚c. This will change if you're above 3000 feet in altitude or so, but for most folks it's right about 212˚. So, if your probes read 212˚, you're right on. My pit probe temp reads 214˚ in boiling water, so I know it's 2˚ high. IE, if I want 225˚ in my smoker, I dial it in at 227˚ on my et732. For what it's worth, I have found foiling really does help. I was dead set against it for a time, and even had some success without foil, but the margin for error is significantly reduced. I usually smoke for 2 hours or so, then foil for an hour, then unwrap them and back on the smoker til they're done, usually another 2 hours. They're done when they bend but don't break when picked up in the middle of the rack, at least to my liking. I like moist, tender meat that still has a little pull to it.
  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver OTBS Member


    Boil water, and hold probe ends in water, but keep away from bottom or sides of pot.

    Allow time for readings to stop changing.

    Different elevations can show different boiling temps---Mine is 212˚.

    Don't know where you are, because it's not in your Bio.

  13. :)

    I think that's the closest Bear gets to subtle...
  14. Shawn, don't feel bad, everyone goofs sometime. A couple of weeks ago Trish P/U a pack of Hormel Ribs at Wally World. When I cook I don't foil and cook @225*f-or-close, and go un-looked at for 5hrs. and check them; they seemed done and I grabbed them ( they felt a little loose) took them in and tried one. Mushy,so I gave them to my Son-He,He,He.

    You said you put the Ribs in before the fire and smoke was good and you messed with the fire a bit[​IMG]. Not good,my latest Matra is "PATIENCE".

    Let the fire settle,the smoke to clear to a Bluish color. Place your meat in the 225* zone in your Smoker, close the lid and wait(patience).Working with a fresher cut of meat you should have a better product and will only have to work out the heat and time you want to use to do that.

    Today, get a noter book and write down all your cooks,how you did it ,weather,temp(ambient),temp.(cooker),fuel ,time and anything else you want to keep track of to help with your cooks,recipes and hints.

    Here's a hint: when you have a bit of time to spare, practice finding the hot spots in your cooker.Knowing your equipment is paramont.

    Were you in the Military? They had you practise your abilities to take your Weapon apart and back together again,and again,and again...

    point is, familiarity with how to control your Smoker. Just an analogy, but you get what I mean.......

    Once you know your Smoker, you can begin to see an improvement in the food you cook.

    The others said to calibrate your thermometers; a clearer explaination-  as in Physics, water boils at 212*f at sea level Venture gave you a chart for above Sea level so you are covered. Now if you have a little 'nut 'on the back of your thermometer, you can take pliers and adjust the therm. Some don't have an adjustment and you have to calibrate the difference and note it<<< in your noter book.Some Mfg.s have a hot line that helps with the calibration of your unit if it is a probe.(or some of the Bros. on here can help you with that).

    If you don't have a good thermometer, get one(for the smoker at grate level-Bass-Pro has Brinkmans for $14 to $15 bucks and they work OK.

    or go to Bed Bath and Beyond and get a probe therm. in the Kitchen area.$25 or so.)

    Point is... you cook by temp. , but Ribs have so little meat and the bones are so close, you can nopt get an accurate measurement of the meat's process,so hold your chamber temps in check and play with times you need your Ribs in.Sounds hard , but easy as riding  a bike...

    Another hint: play with a cheaper cut like Chicken,Country Style Ribs and weenies(yes, ask someone how they want thier weenie and try to give it to them that way,burndt,medium, rare with just a little grill marks on them. This is practice to control your equipment.

    Have fun and let us know how you do.

    Stan    aka    oldschool
  15. Thanks guys for all the helpful advice and encouragement.

    I checked thermometer (have the maverick et732) and both probes read dead on 212.  So I guess the problem is with me and not my equipment.

    It seems pretty clear to me that I am overcooking the meat.  

    So here are some questions:

    When I set up the cooker, I fiddle with the vents for a while to get the temp to 225.  Should I wait until its dead set before I put on the meat?  Or should I put on the meat as soon as I pour on the coals (I do MM) and assemble the cooker?

    OldschoolBB, I guess you recommend the former.  Is that the consensus here?  Maybe that is what I am doing wrong too.

    Another question is how much wood exactly should I be using?  Three fist size chunks are good?  More/Less?

    Will I still get a good smoke flavor if I let the white smoke burn out before placing on the meat?  I know the thin smoke is the good stuff, so maybe the point is moot, but I'm just trying to figure this out.

    Thanks again for all the help, and I have also updated my profile information for bearcarver lol
  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver OTBS Member



  17. Shaun...great questions!

    I wait until it is dead set with TBS before I set the meat.

    I think your wood question is the hardest, and the one that requires the most experience--I've had to significantly change amounts of wood I use based on supplier, type, etc...just play with it and your 'failures' will still probably taste better than restaurant bbq!

Share This Page