New to smoking from the UK - what went wrong with my ribs?

Discussion in 'UK Smokers' started by daveoxforduk, Jul 20, 2015.

  1. Hi guys,

    So I am very new to smoking. I introduced my self on the roll call forum, but was advised it may be a good idea to have look on here. Its great to see that there is a smoking community in the UK that isnt just the big guys with expensive trailers on the back of their cars, doing festivals and food events...great that there's a place to ask questions.

    So a little about me - i'm Dave, i'm 26 and i'm from Oxford. I have recently purchased a very very cheap offset smoker from eBay, which is pretty much an unbranded Landmann Kentucky smoker (from what i can tell) I've been told i dont need to be embarrassed about this fact...and that i wont get chewed out by you guys for getting something that was probably not worth the money! I promise i'll be upgrading ASAP!

    So i did my first smoke yesterday - a rack of st louis style ribs using the 3-2-1 method. The ribs were absolutely delicious, however they turned out quite a bit tougher than i'd like them. I really like them fall off the bone tender, with some nice pull back from the bone...but i didnt really have that. If they were tender, they'd have been some of the best tasting ribs i'd ever eaten!

    As i said, i'm using a cheap offset much like the Landmann kentucky smoker, so it has a (cheap) thermometer on the top which i originally thought was massively inaccurate, as after having the coals in the coal chamber for about 2-3 minutes, the smoking chamber thermo was showing 300F...i thought this couldnt be right, so i generally cooked at around 250F-300F to comensate for what i thought was a bad quality thermo.

    A few guys mentioned on my roll call post about investing in a particular brand and model of thermometer, which im definitely going to do.

    Here are a few pictures of my first cook.

    Here's my smoker (ignore the state of the garden...wanted to keep it in an area away from the house...or else everything would smell like smoke!)

    When closed, there was very very little leakage in terms of smoke, considering its price....i managed to obtain nice thin blue smoke too.

    Two day marinated pork ribs...a typical bbq dry rub using mustard as an adhesive...and LOTS of brown sugar

    about to close the lid for the first 3 hours....

    These are the ribs after the first 3 hours...i didnt peak once! and was suprised at how good they looked...

    This is the final product...Now i'm really really gutted i didnt get the tenderness, as i was hopeful after looking at them after hour 3....

    So perhaps i just had too much heat going on?? I have another thermometer on the way, which i'm going to place closer to the grill rack, and between the one that came with it and the one i've just bought, hopefully i can get a realistic temperature.

    Anywaya, thats my introduction. Welcome any suggestions :)


    wade likes this.
  2. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. i used applewood chips.

    I am a sauce man, however...I'm not as much of a sauce man as that last picture would suggest...i like to add my sauce while i'm eating...what happened was, during my last hour i covered the ribs in bbq sauce, with the hopes of it going all sticky and gelatenous...i got too impatient after an hour of it not really changing/drying i ended up with very saucy ribs!

    thanks for the links.
  4. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Suggest to me your temperature was not high enough.
  5. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Dave - Welcome to the UK group.

    The smoker looks fairy basic but then the principle is pretty the same whichever offset smoker that you buy. The important factor is how good is the air control and therefore the temperature control. You mention that there is little or no leakage of smoke which is a very good sign. I cannot see though from the photos what you have there for controlling the air flow.

    My first suggestion would be to put a coal grate in the base of the fire chamber on which to place your coals. This will help them to burn more evenly and controllably. To help control the heat you may even want to create a fire basket that fits inside that will allow you to use the minion method with your briquetts/charcoal.

    You mentioned before about the internal temperature of the smoker.With the built in thermometer in that position it is going to be unreliable and will almost certainly show a temperature that is higher than at the cooking grate. This will mean that when the thermometer shoes 250 F the temperature around the meat is likely to be lower. This a a common problem with most lid thermometers and the use of a separate digital thermometer with a probe that you can clip to the base will remedy this.

    The ribs look good. We all have our favourite rubs and it sounds as if your was a good one too. The ribs look nice and meaty too. The best meat on that rack is on the right hand side but the left side contains a lot of cartilage that is often unpleasant to sink your teeth into. For the next time you may want to consider trimming them along the joint here.

    This will give you a rack of fibs that has nice clean bones and a strip of rib trimmings that is cooked in the same way as the rack but whose meat is pulled off once cooked and eaten separately.

    The lack of tenderness I think was due to the ribs not actually being at the temperature that you thought they were. The digital thermometer will help fix that next time. Also to tell if they are done look for the meat to be pulling back from the tips of the ribs by about 1/4 inch

    This is personal preference, but I would go with less brown sugar next time. It depends on how sweet you like your ribs though.

    For your first rack of ribs on the smoker I think you did a great job. [​IMG]  I am looking forward to seeing how your next rack turns out... No pressure [​IMG]

    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  6. Hello Dave.  I am not a "sauce man" but the missus loves it.  SO!  What I do is cook the ribs without sauce.  Then split off some, add HOT ( heat in microwave or saucepan ) sauce and wrap in foil.  Into pre-heated oven at full blast for about 30-40 minutes and job done.  Just my opinion.  Keep Smokin!


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