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My plan of attack for PBC ribs

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    My plan of attack for PBC ribs

    I've always struggled a bit with my ribs on the PBC. While they've always come out better than any I ever did on the Weber Kettle, I am still not there yet. After taking nearly a year off from doing ribs (even had to remember where I put my hooks), we're going to try again.

    Previously, my mental state with my ribs was "I have no idea what is going on" my mental with these ribs for tomorrow is very much "I know what is going on" and I can set my expectations accordingly.

    I had several things working against me the last several times I did ribs:
    • Inexperience in smoking ribs in general.
    • Inexperience with the PBC. (It does have a learning curve, although much, much shallower than other smokers.)
    • Not understanding what smoked ribs were supposed to be like. (My reference was Chili's baby back ribs, which I now consider over-braised and overcooked.)
    • Using commodity pork. (i.e. Smithfield cryovac ribs)
    Tomorrow, I'm still using commodity pork, so I still have that going against me.

    Also, I've developed a taste for traditional ribs. It's like my experience with coffee. Early on, I had to have it with milk, but now, I want nothing but black coffee. And the quality of coffee does indeed matter. I don't think I'm too far off in that analogy.

    So, what will I change in how I cook these?
    • No wood. We're just going to let the fat drippings flavor the ribs. (I may regret this....commodity pork is leaner than heritage breeds from what I understand; I may not have enough fat to drip?)
    • (Rub will be just Killer Hogs/Malcom Reed's The BBQ Rub.)
    • Going to do the 15-10-10 lighting method to cut back on that billowing white smoke for KBB.
    • Going to cut the two racks in half to promote even cooking. (These are long racks.)
    • Just enjoy the cook.
    Still haven't decided on saucing these yet.


    Let us know how this goes.

    ..., ..., ...?


      You will get good flavor with just fat drippings on the PBC. You will get more and different flavor with wood chunks on the charcoal.


        My PBC ribs have gotten infinitely better once I started cutting my ribs in half. I used to hang like the third or fourth bone in but the bottom of the rack still charred too much and the bend at the top impacted cooking. Half racks of St. Louis ribs cook perfectly now. Sometimes I sauce, sometimes not. Just how I’m feeling. Both work out well


          Originally posted by Michael_in_TX View Post
          So, what will I change in how I cook these?
          • No wood. We're just going to let the fat drippings flavor the ribs. (I may regret this....commodity pork is leaner than heritage breeds from what I understand; I may not have enough fat to drip?)
          • (Rub will be just Killer Hogs/Malcom Reed's The BBQ Rub.)
          • Going to do the 15-10-10 lighting method to cut back on that billowing white smoke for KBB.
          • Going to cut the two racks in half to promote even cooking. (These are long racks.)
          • Just enjoy the cook.
          Still haven't decided on saucing these yet.
          I'd say you've got this ...
          • No wood? No problem. After a few tries with foil "smoke bombs" or chunks in the PBC, I decided it wasn't worth the effort. Lack of fat for drippings? Those ribs are from a pig ... there'll be juices galore from rendered fat and collagen for dripping onto the coals.
          • Rub? I always used MMD but your choice sounds pretty awesome.
          • 15-10-10 lighting method? yep
          • Cut racks in half? Absolutely! I did it every time ... although you can probably forget about the so-called bend test with half racks.
          • Just enjoy the cook? That's what it's all about.
          • Sauce? I always did (thanks to strong "suggestions" from SWMBO ... generally during the last 30 minutes or so of cooking.

          One thing I'd recommend is temping the ribs. Just make sure you can't find any spots lower than 190F (the minimum temp for rendering fat and collagen) before pulling them.

          FWIW, I never worried about commodity pork (from Costco) and was never disappointed. Here's a few ancient pics from a early (2016) PBC session with commodity pork BB's that turned out pretty well ... at least according to our guests:

          Edit: My pics seem to have vanished but yours look so good, it'd not worth trying to restore mine.
          ... and I'd be willing to bet you'll have even better-looking pics to share shortly.
          Last edited by MBMorgan; March 22, 2021, 08:08 AM.


            That's a great plan


              Experience is simply screwing something up so many different ways that run out of ways to do it wrong. If this cook works out, great. If it doesn't, you'll have learned another thing not to do. Either way, sit back and enjoy the ride.


                I think you've got a good plan going there. I always cut rib racks for the PBC in half. After all, there's plenty of room for that.

                As MBMorgan mentioned, the bend test does not work as well for half racks, but then it never worked well for me with full racks either. What does work and works nearly perfectly is to use those small needle competition series short probes from Fireboard. You know exactly how the rib temps are trending with those little gems. They work great for fish as well.
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                I like adding a chunk of wood for the last 10 of the 15-10-10 fire starting sequence. That way it's not aflame when you're adding the ribs. I happen to like hickory for ribs.

                About timing on the PBC, I use this approach for babybacks:
                For a 4-5 hour cook, set PBC temp at 250°
                For a 2-3 hour cook, set PBC temp at 275°

                For the rub, applied within a couple of hours before the cook, using Worcestershire sauce as the binder and a lot of Meathead's Memphis Dust is always a winner at our house, added to ribs whose membranes have been removed, of course.

                For saucing, I supply each person with their sauce of choice heated in a small bowl with a small silicone brush alongside their plate. That way they can add the sauce that they like onto each rib before consuming. Works well at our house where 2 to 5 different sauce flavors are preferred depending on how many I'm feeding. Plus the little kids like slathering their own ribs with their fav sauce. It can get messy, but it's always fun.



                  Well, you know what they say about making plans lol.....This day completely got away from me and I may not be able to get these ribs on the PBC today.

                  So here is the critical question....they've been dry brining in the refrigerator since 10 pm last night. Is it possible to over dry-brine ribs? I can probably get them on the PBC around noon tomorrow.


                    Just smoke them up when you can. I don't dry brine (if at all) more than a few hours for fear of making the ribs taste hammy. I'm guessing that result varies with rib racks, though.



                    • shify
                      shify commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Agree. A longer dry brine may give it a bit of a hammy taste but won’t be bad

                    • MBMorgan
                      MBMorgan commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Agreed. And if I were in your shoes, I'd rinse those ribs off to preclude any more salt absorption than has already occurred, dry them thoroughly, and refrigerate until it's time to start smoking. Should be fine ...

                    I already posted elsewhere (my "Pulled the Trigger" post) about today's first attempt at ribs on my new PBC. I'll just add a few things here in response to comments and "the plan".

                    First of all, I have made some pretty good ribs on my Weber 22" Kettle charcoal grill. My first attempt on the PBC did not exceed those. I didn't cut the rack in half because I wanted to see for myself how badly overcooked they got. They didn't, so I guess I'll keep leaving them full length until I do burn them or see them dragging in the coals.

                    Not a big fan of the bend test. The most reliable test I've used is to just cut off the smallest rib on the end and eat it. Bone clean, ready to go. Still raw, spit it out (OK, that's never really happened).

                    I dry brined with a modest amount of Kosher salt for one hour. Then a few skirts of water (mist, really) and then Meathead's Memphis rub. Never tastes like ham.

                    These ribs I did put my own homemade sauce on and hung it for another 30 minutes. Not impressed. On the Weber I sauce and put the ribs directly over the coals for 30-60 seconds and that turns out the way I like it. Not sure how I'll do it next with the smoker (probably no sauce in the smoker but just serve it on the side, or maybe sauce and then under the broiler).

                    Anyway, I look forward to hearing how yours turn out.


                      I’d say go for it. I mean, you’re not going to throw them away, right? Might be a little salty, but that rub lists the first two ingredients as brown sugar and sugar, so that might offset it some.
                      I always cut the racks in half for the PBJ. St. Louis cut take about 3:30-45. The meat has usually pulled back about 1/2”+ by then, and they’re tender but not fall-off the-bone. It probably will be a different time with the PBC. I never sauce or wrap, personal preference.
                      Good luck, and let us know how it goes.


                        Will do, yall. This will be an experiment!

                        The moment Kathryn mentioned that the salt may start to cure the ribs, I remembered a Steven Raichlen Project Fire/Smoke episode in which he purposely brines the ribs overnight to get a bit of a curing effect.

                        So we shall see. Working to have them done for a late lunch tomorrow.


                          Dry brining ribs for a week will not make them any more salty than dry brining for one day. The salt is already applied and absorbed after a day so they can’t possibly get more salty without adding more salt. I wouldn’t worry at all about waiting until tomorrow.


                            This weekend just got away from me lol. Didn't get the ribs on the PBC until 5 pm. When I cut the ribs in half, it does look like some curing had occurred. The color of the meat was a significantly deeper pink. We shall see how these turn out.

                            I did do the 15-10-10 lighting method and I think I like it. PBC has settled in a 265 and is just purring along.



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