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First-time Ribs on the Mgrills M1

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    First-time Ribs on the Mgrills M1

    First cook with ribs on the M1 was a smash hit. After some initial troubles getting the fire where I wanted it, it was smooth sailing.

    I went with a 3-pack of baby backs I picked up at Costco and I followed a method I saw in a video from Heath Riles. The ribs got a little smear of yellow mustard "glue" then I layered on several different rubs. I went with a basic SPG then 3 rubs I got from Heath's website: Honey Chipotle, Pecan and Peach. I thought it might be too much rub but in the end the layers of flavor really worked well with the ribs.

    For the fire, I went with some small splits of peach wood from Fruitawood. I followed Travis's method of starting the fire; half chimney of lump hardwood, once ashed over, dump that in the firebox, toss a log or two on top and wait for the fire to build up. Here's where I made a noob mistake. I think the coals of the charcoal had burned down too much and the 2 logs I put in weren't fully catching. So I decided to add a 12-inch split of oak just to get things moving. Well when it did all catch, the fire was way too big (see pic) and the grate temp shot up well over 300 degrees, too hot for ribs. I had been impatient and put the ribs on too early, so now I was trying to choke off the fire so the ribs wouldn't get cooked too quickly. The dampers on the firebox really do seal up tight and I was able to choke the fire off pretty quickly. After burning off some of the excess, I got the temp to settle in around 265-270. After that, it was easy to maintain temp. One or two of my small peach splits every 20-30 minutes kept it steady between 260 and 280. As this was my first low-and-slow on the M1, I was hovering and constantly checking temps. It did require a lot more attention then using a "fuse" of charcoal on my Weber kettle but it was fun and I learned a lot.

    I sprayed the ribs with some apple juice after about 45 minutes and again at the 90-minute mark. After about 2.5 hours the ribs were around 160 degrees so I pulled them and wrapped in foil with a butter bath I made of melted butter, brown sugar and apple juice. Back on the grill for another hour, at which point they were reading about 200-205. Pulled them again, unwrapped and rested for 30 minutes. Then sauced and back on the grill for another 20-25 minutes to let that sauce set. The ribs were perfectly tender at this point. I could pull the bones out clean but the meat wasn't mush, there was still some toothiness to them. One of the racks actually broke in half when I was puttiing them back on the grill for the last time.

    Final result was delicious. Sweet and spicy, tender with just the right amount of chewiness to them. I forgot to take a picture of the final product, of course. I was surprised that there was not a heavy smoke flavor as there was a steady stream of light white smoke coming out the chimney throughout the cook. I was worried the smokiness would overpower the rubs and sauce but it did not. I actually would have preferred a little bit more of a smoky flavor but overall I was very happy with the finished product.

    Lessons learned/thoughts on the M1:

    1 - Fire size really is the key to successful cooks on this grill (if using wood logs). You need to be patient, get the fire burning steadily and then slowly add to it if you need to raise the temp. This is not the grill to get if you are impatient or want something you can just light and walk away from. I could set a Weber up to burn a steady 250 degrees for 4 or 5 hours before it needed to be tended to. I don't think there is a way to do that on this grill if burning wood. You have to be prepared to monitor the temps and feed the fire every 30 minutes or so. I want to try a brisket on this but that is going to be a major commitment and a sleepless night.

    2 - I will probably remove the left-side shelf that sits above the firebox door. When trying to dump a lit chimney of charcoal into the firebox, it gets in the way and makes it more difficult to up-end the chimney. Plus the shelf is too small to really be useful. I had a sheet pan with three racks of ribs on it and I could not set the pan down there and close the lid because of the chimney placement. The right side shelf wouldn't have had this issue but I had set up my Thermoworks Smoke on that side.

    3 - I had 10 pounds of 6x3 inch splits of the peach wood. After a total of about 5-5.5 hours of live fire I used up all but maybe 1-2 pounds of them so figure for a 260-270 degree burn about 1.5 pounds per hour. I'll see how this holds up if I use different wood. I have about 25 pounds of oak 10-inch splits and 30 pounds of 12-inch pecan splits.

    4 - The grate comfortably held 3 racks and could easily have held a fourth (although probe placement may have become an issue with 4 racks). Add in the lower (charcoal) grate as a cooking surface and you could comfortably smoke 8 racks or 4-6 pork shoulders. The lower charcoal grate can be moved up fairly close to the top cooking grate so I think you'd be able to keep the temps pretty even or you could rotate your meats ever hour or two, I'll have to do a test with another air probe on the lower grate next time and see what kind of temps I get at different charcoal grate positions.

    So far I have really enjoyed using this grill. It is fun to use, it's easy to keep the fire going once you have it set and the food that comes off it has all been delicious. It doesn't result in heavy, over-smoked food. It does require patience and attention but the results are worth it. And it gives me an excuse to sit outside and have a cold drink on a nice summer day.

    Some pics below. They got a little out of order and I can't seem to re-arrange them. Anyway, the first pic is the ribs right before I sauced them, then they are kind of in order: rubbed and uncooked, after about two hours on the grill, when I took them off the grill before wrapping them, then sauced and ready for the final cook. The next two show the grill when I had the initial, too-hot fire going and finally the ribs (including the rack that broke in half) sauced and ready for the final set.

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    Piece of Cake. It is so easy to through ribs on a grill. Having them come out as good as your pictures, well that is another story.
    Happy grilling to you and PBR too


      Nice looking cook! Those pics could have been taken in my back yard. Same fence, kiddie play house, tree in the corner, similar siding on neighbors, lol.


        You are killing it good buddy. Thank you for the detailed write ups and pics. Lots of great advice.


          Those look great!


            FWIW, you are seriously making me add the M1 to my to-buy list. All your posts look amazing. Well done.


              Great job!


                Looks good!

                All new to you cookers take some time to dial them in and understand them.


                  Thanks for the great write up. I have this cooker pegged as my retirement cooker, so it was nice to see a real world cook detailed. I love the versatility of being able to cook with wood or charcoal, to smoke or to grill. I hope to have mine around this time next year!




                      Lookin goood!


                        The M1 or the new improved Hasty-Bake 357 are my "if I fell into money" cookers. The way I see it if I fell into enough for either I'd probably have enough for both.

                        Nice writeup! Yeah, most cookers w/o circuit boards and cords are not 'hurry' cookers but instead are 'take your time and enjoy life' cookers.


                        • Tuckmonster
                          Tuckmonster commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I seriously looked at a Hasty Bake as well. I really liked the adjustable grate on the M1 and just preferred the overall design but I don't think I would have been unhappy with the HB either. I do think the pull out charcoal grate on the HB is a little easier to use but I also think the M1's versatility and ability to use wood logs makes it the winner for me.

                        I have the M36 on order. This post makes me pumped. I appreciate the detail! Thank you.


                          Nice looking ribs and review. To address your statement in #1 of your lessons learned/thoughts where you state that this is not the grill to get if you are impatient or don't want to feed the fire on a regular basis using just wood. Most stick burners out there are going to require you to add wood every 30 minutes to an hour. The M1 is no different in that respect. If you want to go four or five hours without adding fuel, you are going to have to use charcoal or lump in the fire basket. This is the way I use the M1 the majority of the time when smoking on it because I usually don't want to or have the time to go out there that often.

                          I also own a Hasty Bake and can tell you from experience that smoking on one can be very frustrating because they are not air tight grills and controlling temps can be very difficult. They like to run pretty hot with not much lit fuel. You are way better off with the M1 as far as smoking goes. I added gaskets to three sides of my fire door on my HB and now can control temps a lot better but still not as easy as the M1.


                          • 70monte
                            70monte commented
                            Editing a comment
                            You are welcome. Yes, doing what you suggested with starting out with all wood and then just adding charcoal or lump later is a nice option as well. I have not tried that one yet. My longest cook on my M1 was a pork butt at almost 13 hrs. I think I re-fueled twice but only because I wanted to make sure I didn't run out. I think I could have made it with only one re-fuel.

                          • Rob whatever
                            Rob whatever commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Just got an M 36. In an attempt to preserve wood,I think I will use splits until I wrap and then add lump charcoal. Have you tried that?

                          • 70monte
                            70monte commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I have not tried all wood and then lump to finish up. There is no reason you can't. It's just replacing one heat source for another.


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