Water In The Pan

Discussion in 'Pork' started by whistlepig, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. I bought a 30" MES smoker three weeks ago. This is my first smoker. I have made three attempts on baby back ribs. These ribs are coming out a little dry so far. I smoke at 225 degrees and have used the 3-2-1 method. I am thinking a 2-2-1 method might be better. Do you think water in the pan would be better? I haven't tried water in the pan yet.
  2. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    The 2-2-1 is for baby backs and then you can adjust your times to fit your wants. I used the 3-2-1 for spares and my times are 3-2 1/4-.45 for my likings.
  3. redheelerdog

    redheelerdog Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You can try water in the pan. Are you putting anything in the foil on the #2 step? (a little apple juice/water mix, etc.). You could try spritzing or mopping also.

    That's the great thing about BBQ, we are always trying to get to the pinnacle of perfection, and all you can do is keep trying.

    Let us know how the next ones turn out!
  4. Thanks for the quick response. I've got some baby backs in the fridge and am going to try them again tomorrow. 
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

  6. I am going to pick up the makin's for your foil juice tomorrow. This foil juice thing sounds awful good to me. Do I season or rub the ribs before smoking? I also came across a thread with your recommendation for smoking pork loin and have saved that. I have been over spicing my ribs and your recipes seem closer to what I would like. Your recipes and recommendations are precise and easy to understand. I do appreciate this as I am a beginner smoker.      
  7. Any suggestions about using water in the pan?
  8. smokeguy

    smokeguy Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I always use water in the pan (or some other wet juices etc).  That helps to keep the internal temps of the smoker more even during cycles or if you open the door.  It also adds moisture to the inside of the smoker (some debate though if it goes into the food) so should help the outside of the ribs to stay moister at least.  Like the others said, 2-2-1 is generally preferred for baby-backs and 3-2-1 for the regular ribs.  Less time in the middle foil stage (the steaming stage) tends to give them more "pull" and is the way I prefer them generally.

    Some fill the water pan with sand to help regulate temperatures but I haven't tried that yet.   Too easy to just add water and dump after I think.

    Rubs applied too heavily (depending what they're made of) can also dry out even if the meat isn't but still giving that dry taste.
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I'm glad you like my recipes...Yes I apply a rub before smoking. Since the foiling juice is on the Sweet side I usually use a Spicy rub. Send me a PM with a link to the Pork loin you are refering to so I can refresh my memory and also if you want to talk about rubs I can help there as well. I usually do put water in my pan...JJ
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  10. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I use water in the pan all the time. I have sand in my normal water pan and add water to a disposable water pan on a rack above that.
  11. smokinal

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

    Are you sure that your smoker is running at 225. It sounds like the ribs are over cooked. 5 hours is plenty for BB's.
  12. I always use a water pan for ribs too.  I also keep a spray bottle handy filled with either apple cider or apple juice and spray the ribs about every 45 minutes or so.  I'm not a 2-2-1 fan since I don't like my ribs that 'fall off the bone', but there are others that swear by it.  It's really personal preference.  If you elect not to go with the 2-2-1 and foil route, spritzing with your favorite mop sauce or just apple juice, apple cider or even beer will help with the dryness in MVHO....

  13. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I don't use water in the water pan, because the water pan in the MES is too big. 

    Think about it???   At 225°, you're boiling all that water into steam.  If you want extra moisture, use a small disposable loaf pan on a higher rack.

    Guys will mistake this "Steam" for smoke.

    The MES 30 & MES 40 both have a terrible hot spot in the right rear corner.  Heat goes right up the corner, and everything cooks faster.

    Also, the temp on my display is about 15° off, so I actually set my MES 40 at 210° to maintain 225° inside the smoker.

    Every rack is going to be a different temp.

    I add Apple juice when I foil and put back in the smoker or oven for 2 hours.

    Some guys unfoil and finish 1 hour in the smoker, but I like to finish on the gas grill for about 5 minutes per side on low.  This seems to crisp up the bark a little.

    I think adding juice while foiling will fix your problem

    Check the accuracy of your MES

  14. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    after a couple of years of 2-2-1 and 3-2-1 i quit using foil. Now  i season the ribs, in the fridge over night . heat mes to 250 (mine runs 15 degrees lower than display says)

     hit the ribs w/ a good coat of rub and brown sugar about 30 min before putting them in the MES. close the door and 4 hrs later i start checking for pull back on the bones. some racks need 4 .5 hrs ,some 6 hrs . Once you learn your smoker and what to look for and how things feel when done life as a smoker becomes much simpler.
  15. slief

    slief Smoke Blower

    I use the 2-2-1 method for baby backs. It seems like 3-2-1 would be too much for baby backs. I rub them down the night before, wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge. I also use apple juice in my foil. I did use the water pan filled with apple juice my first couple attempts but abandoned that the last couple attempts. I do however spritz them down with apple juice during the first 2 hours. I found my first rack or 2 to be a bit on the dry side. That or they just didn't seem very tender to me.  

    I then changed my approach when picking my ribs which really helped me get a better rib. My first to purchases of baby backs came from my local meat market. They have a very lean well trimmed baby back rib. They looked great but I don't think they were ideal for smoking. I also think they were a bit on the firm side and were not very flexible. 

    The next ribs I purchased came from Costco. I checked each package of ribs by sight and then gave them a good bend. I chose the most flexible ribs I could find that looked good to my eyes. The next smoke, I completely forgot about the water pan. I did the typical 2-2-1 followed by a minute or so per side on a hot BBQ. End result was my best ribs ever. Since then, I have been giving the ribs a bend test before I purchase them and each time they come out great and very tender. I am of the belief that if you start with a soft flexible rack that isn't too lean, they will come out more tender in the end. 
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  16. Well I sure got a lot of good advice today! I have used the 3-2-1 method on my three tries and foiling with apple juice after three hours. SmokinAl mentioned that my smoker could be running too hot. That could very well be and I need to buy a thermometor to check this. Smokeguy mentioned that certain rubs applied too heavily can dry out the meat. I'm going to try 2-2-1 next ime and ease up on the rub. Also try some water in the pan. Thank you all very much for the help.

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