Steaming Ribs

Discussion in 'Pork' started by golfpro2301, May 29, 2014.

  1. golfpro2301

    golfpro2301 Smoking Fanatic

    So I have been thinking of a few ways to modify my rib recipe to change up the flavor a little. I usually do a modified 3-2-1 with two rubs, multiple ingredients in the foil, and then finishing rub. It works really well but want to try something different. Has anyone tried putting ribs in a steamer pot with apple juice, cider, beer etc in the pot and let them go for a few hours then into the smoker? Just trying to come up with different ideas. A local butcher here finished 2nd in ribs at Memphis in May a long time ago. He wanted to be different so he foiled his ribs the first 2 hours then smoked for 4. This evidently worked out well for him. 
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm not sure what the benefit would be in closed-cooking, then open grate smoking...possibly more rendering out of fat and a bit more uniform tenderness throughout the meat [​IMG] With open grate smoking afterwards, it should toughen/tighten-up the surface meat fibers.

    I know you will suffer less smoke reaction...definitely no smoke may get some smoke flavor, but even that may be drastically reduced, unless you pour a very heavy smoke to your ribs for a few hours.

    That's just my thoughts, and I may be completely wrong, or partially wrong...I might not try it, however, you'll never know the results until you do it, right?

    Hmm, just had a possible addition to the method: steam, smoke then sear over a hot grill to crisp any surface fat and put a hard set on the bark.

    Let us know  what you do...I'd be interested in knowing how it works out.

  3. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    About 10-12 years ago a buddy of mine taught me to steam the ribs till they were almost done and then pull them from the oven and throw them on the side fire box with a few chucks of wood and some charcoal. Maybe leave them on for 45 minutes and then sauce them and leave them on for another 15-20 minutes.

    This was what I thought real bbq was. I was impressed and bought my first SFB smoker and did it his way for a while until I started looking other ways up. Turns out that way wasn't anything like real bbq!!! Lol! Who knew???

    Anyway I started experimenting about a year after buying my smoker and did it all (3-2-1 and every variation of this method, straight smoke, and everything else you can think of). The steam first and smoke just a little afterwards isn't bad but it's not bbq. The smoke flavor is far less when doing it afterwards and I see no real advantage in this method unless you like fall off the bone ribs with just a hint of smoke.

    But a decade or better ago I was convinced enough that it was real bbq and I went and bought my first smoker! Lol! Not a bad rib, but not a bbq rib.
  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm kind a simple cook. In that I really hate having to use multiple sources of heat to cook one thing.

    There are places that steam it braise then do a quick smoke and serve, but in my mind that's not BBQ.

    I say use the KISS method. Keep It Simple Stupid! Smoke it all and enjoy!
    marauder likes this.
  5. brandon91

    brandon91 Meat Mopper

    All I can say is from my experience after foiling my ribs they really want to fall apart, and benefit greatly from another hour of dry heat to firm them up. Besides that, I think a moist cooking environment is always beneficial to the finished product. [​IMG]
  6. ghunt

    ghunt Fire Starter

    I thought the point of "foiling" was that you get that steam action going on?

    I generally wrap my ribs after smoking, and add a little apple juice or whatever to the bottom of the foil. Works great.
  7. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Yup that's the point of foiling. But in my experience doing it before smoking them you get a far less "smokey" product.
  8. marauder likes this.
  9. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    While I'm no cooking expert I know Technically you are correct since it's sitting in liquid it's braising. That's the way I've understood it anyway.

    However when you drop a tiny bit of apple juice in foil with your ribs it's causing steam and that's what's working on your ribs in that foil. So isn't this potato, potato? Maybe I'm wrong but I'm putting like a 1/4 cup of liquid in the foil is that really braising?
  10. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    If I do 3-2-1 ribs its usually because Mrs. Yotzee prefers them fall off the bone style.  IMO, the best ribs I have ever made are the ones that stayed right in the smoker start to finish.  Tender, juicy and simply pork flavor.
  11. Trust me, no expert here either, but it's my understanding the difference is in temperature, not the liquid.  In your example, as long as the apple juice remains below its boiling point it is braising.  Once it turns to steam, well, obviously steaming.  For me, assuming the meat in the foil is less than 200 degrees then I assume the liquid is also at this lower temperature just because of the large mass and low volume of liquid.  That meat would have to be serious hot for that liquid to produce steam, at least in my small brain.  I usually pull my foiled ribs off with my bare hands and when I open the foil there is no sudden release of steam.  Maybe a real expert will chime in, but that's my theory for now.  
  12. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    I'm pretty sure also that you can't say you're steaming something that is actually sitting in the liquid. Think about when you steam veg it sits in a steamer basket above the cooking liquid. Think about our beloved mini that's why they have the steamer insert for the pot so the tamale's sit above the liquid. When you braise something it sits in the liquid.
    Last edited: May 30, 2014
  13. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    ^^^ This
  14. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Every time I open my foil there is plenty of steam that's released as I smoke my ribs around 225-240. If your not hitting 212 when you foil ribs what is your smoking temperature???
  15. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    I understand that the ribs themselves are not past the boiling point but in a smoker that is 225 degrees a 1/4 cup or so of liquid gets hot fast. I've never taken ribs outta foil without steam rushing out. Not one time.

    With that said it's still sitting in the liquid so I get the braising tag.
  16. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    I would have to say I believe the steam is a product of a rapid temperature change when you open the foil and release the heat into the air. Same as when you walk outside from a colder indoors and your glasses would fog up. I haven't wrapped ribs but from what I understand you wrap them tight which wouldn't leave room for the streaming process to take place in the cooking of the ribs
    Last edited: May 30, 2014
  17. Temp is 225 - 240 but I think Brooksy is on to something.  Easy enough to test, I'll have to try this ....... stick a Thermapen in the liquid right when you open the foil.  I'm no thermodynamic expert, or intelligent amateur, but I think the logic of the thermal mass of the ribs and the small volume of liquid would dictate the liquid would not get hotter than the larger thermal mass.  With that thought, those ribs shouldn't get above 212 or they would turn to mush.  Make sense?  Now, if the ribs were in a pan with space around them for the liquid to be away from the ribs (thermal mass) and there was an air space above the ribs for the air to circulate, oh yeah, there will be steam ...........
  18. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    There will be steam but you still wouldn't be steam cooking the ribs because they would be in the liquid. I think with other larger cuts of meat in a pan with steam circulation room around the meat the steam may play a part in the cooking process but with the low profile of ribs unless there was very little liquid added I think the steam liquid would evaporate to quickly to make a difference.
  19. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Solid theory with the thermal mass. I don't know... Guess it has to be tested!

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