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Dry Last Meal Ribs Help

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  • nickrebo
    Former Member
    • Jun 2018
    • 7

    Dry Last Meal Ribs Help

    Debriefing on my 3rd rib cook ever. Followed the Last Meal Ribs recipe verbatim each time. Lots went well this time, a couple things to hone.

    Skinned and trimmed and dry brined 2 St. Louis racks the night before.
    Memphis dust dry rub morning of.
    Using 22” kettle with slow n sear
    8 oz of apple wood chips on a chimney full of the blue bag briquettes (4oz at onset, then 4 more oz. 30 min later.
    St Louis ribs were large for the kettle, so I put them on a rack holder and turned them a bit to keep from touching the lid
    Kept temp between 218-235 according to my temporary grill thermometer (thermoworks blue dot with meat probe attached 1” above the grate with foil)
    Rotated the Ribs once at around 2 hours
    At 4 hours 17 min, did a bend test and they cracked. Was expecting them to take longer, but didn’t want to overcook, so I pulled em.
    Brushed some sauce on and put them in the direct zone for about a minute or less each side.
    Immediately pulled off the grill and wrapped them in foil, then wrapped the foil in a beach towel, which I placed in my cooler and poured boiling water on the towel. Didn’t touch them till dinner time around 2 hours later.


    Beautiful bark, not black like brisket, but not much maroon left. Was able to cut them pretty easily, but soon realized that my first attempt st cutting spare ribs into st louis cut, I’d left quite a bit of section above the ribs that had other bones so hard to cut. Pretty fatty and lots of random bones up there so I think I’ll cut all that off next time.

    There was less of a pink ring than I expected, but certainly enough smoke flavor, so not a major concern.
    So here’s the major self-critique: a couple bites felt a little dry/chewy. The guests didn’t notice, as feedback was excellent, but judges would have. And I sure did. What might be the cause? The foil/towel/cooler dried them out?

    Thanks for imparting your wisdom to thr rib Rookie!
    Attached Files
  • Mudbeaver
    Former Member
    • May 2018
    • 457
    • Marathon NY

    I would have to blame the cooler, but I’m no expert


    • Mosca
      Charter Member
      • Oct 2014
      • 3103
      • PA
      • Large Big Green Egg, Weber Performer Deluxe, Weber Smokey Joe Silver, Maverick 732, DigiQ, and too much other stuff to mention.

      Those were full racks, not St Louis cut. St Louis cut trims off the tips and squares up the rack. That being said, the tips are pretty good eating; they take some work, but they are tasty.

      Four hours is pretty fast, especially at that low of a temp for that big of a rack. I go with the "pull back" test first. If the meat is pulled back and the ends of the bones are exposed, then I bounce them a little bit to see if the bend test agrees. Your racks might have needed more time. For me, "fall off the bone" is better than tough and chewy. So if I err, it will be in that direction.

      Edit: by the picture, the bones were exposed, so there you have it. I'd have had to have been there to tell you more.


      • nickrebo
        nickrebo commented
        Editing a comment
        Very helpful feedback. Thank you. First attempt at converting uncut spare ribs into St Louis cut. Next time, Will be more aggressive in the pruning.

        Starting to make sense that they were likely yanked too early. Will be more patient next time. And maybe they were touching the ends of the grill or the lid, thus cooking at more than 225 in places. Trimming will help them fit better next time.

      • RonB
        RonB commented
        Editing a comment
        nickrebo - Don't forget to cook the cut offs. They provide a little snack for the cook, or maybe the dogs.
    • Steve R.
      Club Member
      • Jul 2016
      • 2150
      • Elizabethtown, KY
      • Current line-up of cookers: Weber 26" kettle w/ SnS and BBQ Guru adapter; Weber Ranch Kettle w/ Guru adapter.

      At 4 hrs, 17 min at that temp, I suspect they didn't cook long enough to render the fat and tenderize. This will affect the dryness to some extent. That's all I can come up with.


      • Troutman
        Troutman commented
        Editing a comment
        Agree, I usually go 5.5 hours or so on mine for bite through tender. I also don't cambro mine but I can't believe that hurt anything, probably helped if anything.
    • SMO
      Club Member
      • Jan 2017
      • 124
      • Chanhassen, MN

      I have a hard time with the "crack test". For me, a toothpick between the bones is easier to judge when done. I too suspect that they needed to cook longer. That would have probably given you a smoke ring also.


      • smn1285
        Former Member
        • Feb 2017
        • 140
        • MD

        Don’t salt/dry brine ribs overnight either. They only need like an hour before. I woulda put them back on after wrapping to get more tenderness as well. The old trick of wrapping with honey, butter, and brown sugar works wonders getting some moistness in there too.


        • Huskee
          Pit Boss
          • May 2014
          • 14666
          • central MI, USA
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          I disagree with the above, if you have the time I say DO dry brine overnight. The longer the better. I also agree they just needed to cook longer. With ribs, especially the fattier ones, longer cook times lead to more breakdown/rendering of fats and collagen and lead to a more tender juicier rib. Sometimes cracking can happen before they're "done", especially if you grab the very end with tongs and lift the rack. Try grabbing about 1/3 of the way down the rack and lift, watching for a good wide crack. I also think they were trimmed to St Louis style less than perfect, looks like plenty of the rib tips may have been left on those. Rib tips are the white pencil-like soft bones on one side that frustrate the crap out of you when you're trying to slice the finished product.


          • nickrebo
            nickrebo commented
            Editing a comment
            Excellent feedback - thank you! I will aim to have the butcher cut my St. Louis ribs in the future. And you’re absolutely right, I was very frustrated trying to cut my ribs before serving!

          • Sweaty Paul
            Sweaty Paul commented
            Editing a comment
            Recently dry brined 4 racks StL ribs overnight, about 10 hours. Best ribs for flavor that I’ve ever had. Really spectacular. Very juicy.
        • SmokeUp
          Club Member
          • Jul 2018
          • 2

          Followed the same recipe here in Australia.

          Dry brine over night. Rub 1hr before.

          225f for 5.5hrs on Yoder YS640.

          Ribs are over smoked and dry.

          It looks like the ribs here are just too lean and small?
          Attached Files


          • Huskee
            Huskee commented
            Editing a comment
            Could be. Next time try the bend test as described in the article at the 3 hr mark, and go about every half hour from there. Thinner smaller ones may only need 3 or 4 hrs. If there's not
            enough fat in them they may pass that done mark and head toward jerky rather fast.
        • fracmeister
          Founding Member
          • Jul 2014
          • 1120
          • Sprang, TX
          • Dances with lemmings

            (and smokes on a Yoder 640, raises bees and shoots a .408 WIndrunner) "come la notte i furti miei seconda"

          While not disagreeing with any prior comments I am guessing you could just have bought some poorer quality ribs. There is always that dang stringy pig!


          • EdF
            Club Member
            • Jul 2016
            • 3186
            • Atlantic Highlands, NJ
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            For me, it tends to be 5 hours on the BGE or 4 on the KBQ, for back ribs. As advised, start checking earlier, and don't discount that it might have been a 1 time pig experience.


            • Polarbear777
              Club Member
              • Sep 2016
              • 1609

              Since we have to take ribs to 180F+ To break down the connective tissue, the meat fibers themselves are well done and dry. Fibers get really dry above 140F. We have to rely on collagen breakdown and fat to make the end result seem juicy. Usually if they are dry and tough, they are under done because not enough collagen (which holds it together) has not broken down yet and that takes time. Thickness has everything to do with heat penetration so the thinner they are the earlier you check. If you cook too long and the fat renders away and collagen moisture gets cooked away also they can get very dry. If they are dry but too tender (falling off the bone completely) they are over done.

              Usually takes me 4.5 - 5 hours at 225F, but the thin areas can sometimes over cook when you want the middle ribs to be perfect.

              The tooth/taste test test is the most accurate (pull one off the end to eat while still cooking to check), but it’s problematic because you might have to keep checking at eat them all.

              The good news is even if they aren’t prefect they are still really good.


              • EdF
                EdF commented
                Editing a comment
                "Eat them all"!
            • SMO
              Club Member
              • Jan 2017
              • 124
              • Chanhassen, MN

              For me, I can't get the hang of the crack test. I went to the toothpick between the bones and have gotten the ribs off at a better point. Just a personal preference I guess.


              • EdF
                EdF commented
                Editing a comment
                backs or spares? I don't think the crack test works on backs very well.

              • SMO
                SMO commented
                Editing a comment
                Backs or spares, I have gotten into the habit of doing the toothpick test EdF I just seem to be able to judge better that way. If it goes in with little resistance I know it it time.

              • EdF
                EdF commented
                Editing a comment
                If it works, it works!



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