Ribs, to tough underneath?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by cmm5350, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. So I did my first set of ribs last weekend and the meat and smoke was all awesome except for the underneath was very very tough. 

    Here is what I did, 

    Smoked in a horizontal smoker with hickory wood and lump charcoal using the minion method. 

    Kept around 230* minus a few temp spikes that I controlled quickly

    they smoked for 2 hours bone down on the grate

    then I wrapped them in foil with some apple juice for 2 hours bone side to the grate again. 

    I didn't let them go on for the last hour, instead I took them and place them in my fridge overnight for serving the next day.

    The next day I through them back on the horizontal with just some lump coal to warm them up.  Temp around 210* I didn't use enough charcoal.  I coated the ribs with BBQ sauce and left them in for 30-45 mins.  

    This was my first attempt at smoking ribs and they taste amazing and I thought they were great except the bottom got to tough. 

    Im guessing I need to flip them upside down at some point but when?  In the foil or during the smoke?  
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Did you remove the membrane? That may be your culprit. No need to flip ribs during the cook.
  3. scdigger

    scdigger Fire Starter

    +1 on this...
  4. Yep I removed all of it.  The under side was like trying to pull apart really tough jerky...  It was late when I pull them out of the foil, but I cut off a rib to try and I don't remember it being tough so maybe from putting them in the fridge?  
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  5. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    +2 on the membrane. I'll also add that by refrigerating the ribs, you essentially reinforced the gelatin that was formed when the collagen broke down. Once collagen converts to gelatin and is chilled, it solidifies. Then it takes more heat to melt it than was required to break it down in the first place. The membrane, though it never really breaks down, will likely act the same way and be tougher after cooking and refrigerating than it would have been had you just finished cooking them and eaten while hot.

    By the same token, if you accidentally overcook your ribs and they're a little mushy, refrigerating them overnight and gently reheating them the next day will provide a much firmer, "meatier" texture. Same goes for any cut of meat containing a lot of connective tissue.
  6. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'd have to say that more than likely it was the cooking method you used. On another note are you sure that your therms are accurate? I would run a test on those in boiling water or ice water to see how accurate they are. Tough ribs can come from a few things. One type and quality, membrane being left on, under cooking or over cooking. I have never had ribs turn out tough using the 2-2-1 or 3-2-1 methods. Usually the turn out to fall off the bone! Really have to pay attention during the foiling phase to not over braise them.
  7. There are two membrane layers on pork ribs.  The first one is usually not to hard to remove. Once you get a section separated, a paper towel will help pull that off.  That leaves the inner layer which you can't remove.  Usually, this is so thin that it does not affect anything, but I have had some ribs once in a while where this was thicker than I would like.  I take a sharp knife and score it on the bones and between the bones which helps it to break down more and give me tenderer ribs.

    was the bottom dried out tough (you mentioned jerky) - or chewy?  If Chewy - that is a sign of membrane.  If dried out - that is a sign of over heating.

    When you took them out of the foil - was there still a good amount of apple juice in the foil?  If it was dry inside the foil - you could have had a leak.  How much apple juice did you put in the foil?  I'm kind of surprised you could dry out the meat with a foil step.
  8. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    On a side note to that I don't add any liquid during the foil stage and never have a problem with dried out ribs, when using the 2-2-1 or 3-2-1 methods. In fact there is usually a good 1/4 cup of liquid in the pouch.
  9. As I said the top of the ribs were perfect, fall off the bone and tender.  The underside I couldn't even bite off the bone it was so dry.  Tucson might be right about the foil leak.  There was nothing left in and I really didn't think to much about it.  but wouldn't that have made the whole rack dry??  Honestly I have no idea where it went wrong.  I might have to calibrate my thermo's.   They are cheap $9 ones I bought at a lowes.  I have the char griller duo and I added to cheapo therms to grate level.  I haven't splurged on a digital yet to check meat and grates I kind of do everything as I feel like it needs to get done. 
  10. I had a case once where my smoker was running hotter than expected, and I had tears in the foil (bones poked through).  The bone side - which was the bottom side - got dried out - kind of like CMM5350.  The top side was still good, but the bottom dried out - combination of too hot and no moisture.  I think there was a football game on, I was using a horizontal stick burner and had thrown on a new log, thought it was stable, and went back in to watch the game.  I came out 45 minutes later to check - and I was over 350!

    I agree - if you have good temperature control, you don't need added liquid.  I tend to add some as my wife wants hers to be able to pick up a bond and have everything fall off it.  I like mine a little firmer, so I usually cook them to make her happy - then she keeps letting me buy more cooking toys...
  11. Sounds like this is exactly my problem. Thank you, I was also not babysitting the stick burner...  I think I may of had some chunks flare up and stabalize before I even knew there was a problem.  

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