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My first run at ribs - 6 hours, a smokenator, not enough beer, too much cold

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    My first run at ribs - 6 hours, a smokenator, not enough beer, too much cold

    The smokenator arrived last week. I know I was supposed to do calibration cooks first, but I couldn't bring myself to set fire in an empty weber. "Chicken" I thought ... "How hard can chicken be?"

    Well, given that the chicken was a test run for the ribs, harder than you'd thing. See, first, I had to make up some Memphis dust. That was easy. Then I had to make up what turned out to be a massive jar of the Classic Kansas BBQ sauce. I've always stuck to cold mix vinegar sauce in the past, and avoided sauces. Simply following the recipe worked though, and I didn't end up with any lumpy chunks from the sugar.

    I skipped the sieve part of the instructions though - I LIKE lumpy bits of onion in my sauce thankyouverymuch!

    So the cook of the chicken went fine, giving me lots of confidence for my first ever rib cook. The ribs came from Costco here in London and were sold as pork loin ribs.

    On Friday at lunch time, I stripped the membrane off of the back of the ribs, salted them and stuck them back into the fridge, covered. During my dinner beak, I dragged them back out and coated them in memphis dust. I'm still not sure whether I used too little, enough, or too much...

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    That's Friday night sorted. Onto Saturday.

    I learned a few lessons on Saturday:
    * If you're cooking, cook. If you're sharpening knives, sharpen knives. But don't try and do both on the same day. You'll murder yourself running up and down the stairs
    * Start earlier than you think you need to
    * Everything is a variable. Water pan surface area - variable. Wrapping the ribs in foil for a bit? Variable. 8C ambient temperature change ? Variable. Try to reduce the number of variables you have

    The cook started well. I have up trying to light the initial coals with the chimney upside down - even with a firelighter on a beer can (so close to the coals), you don't get enough draw in the tiny part of the remaning chimney. I also gave up trying to light the coals with oil-soaked kitchen town and just stood one side of the chimney on a beer can to force all the coals to other side. That and a Blitz firelighter, and I had coals. But I was 45 minutes behind schedule at that point.

    The next problem was the wind. I haven't built a decent wind break yet, but a couple of planks left over from another project helped enough that I could stabilise temperature with just a small water pan in the grill.

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    For the first 2 hours things went well. Temperature (measured with my Christmas present Maverick ET733) was stable between 224F and 228F.

    But because I'd removed the water pan to get more coals in, each time I wanted to add coals, I had to drag the replacement water pan off to the side to flip up the grill. The fact that it was an aluminum pan caused it to deform and spill water. That killed my temp for a bit and made a heck of a mess inside the kettle. I need to find a steel water pan for the next go!

    Temps started to go up quickly, so I added the original pan back in as well, but by that point the ribs were starting to actually look like we might be eating them (which was a huge relief to me!)

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    And that's where the pictures end for the in-progress.

    You see, firstly, I forgot that it gets dark by around 16:30 at the moment. Then I forgot that when it gets dark, the temperature drops. A lot! 8C to 2C in a very short period. And I'm from warmer climes, so , brrr! But after 3 hours, there was no way I was abandoning hope.

    Out came the Cree torch, and the foil. I wrapped the ribs and put them back for an hour.

    After wrapping them in foil, my kettle that had been stable within 4 - 6 degrees F all day suddenly wouldn't go above 182. I'm assuming it had something to do with which way around I'd used the foil. So back out, clips off the weber lid, lid off, water out, hot water on my shoes, swearing, lid on, clips on. Yay - 224F. For about 15 minutes. Then 240F. Then 250F... Booo!

    The next hour was a fun game of close vents, shiver, watch thermometer, shiver, close vents, swear, shiver, wait. Holding a torch in your mouth with braces on is less fun than you'd think - note to self, time to buy a head lamp. And a decent light for outside if I'm going to persist with this madness.

    After an hour in the foil, I unwrapped the ribs and basted them with the barbeque sauce. Man, that stuff is tasty by itself even! I left them like that for 40 minutes, then had another look. The sauce had largely cooked into the ribs, and they were fairly dry to the touch. So I gave them another coat, slapped the lid back on and waited 20 minutes before pulling them out.

    6 and a bit hours after they went in, they came out.

    There are a lot of things I'll change for my next cook, but I won't change the basics... I love the rub and the sauce and so did everyone else.

    The only downside is that I still have well over half a jar of sauce and rub left. So I guess I'll be out in the garden again this weekend trying to get through it. Yeah, I know it keeps, but I don't have to tell anyone else that, do I ?

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    #2
    Nice work! Killer smoke ring!! Now what is that yummie biscuit/onion thing on the plate? that looks awesome as well

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by OGMrWhite View Post
      Nice work! Killer smoke ring!! Now what is that yummie biscuit/onion thing on the plate? that looks awesome as well
      It's a focaccia loaf. My wife found a few at a food market and they went well with it !

      Comment


        #4
        Nice cook... Your ribs look perfect. Job well done!

        Comment


          #5
          Those look AMAZING! WTG

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Wartface View Post
            Nice cook... Your ribs look perfect. Job well done!
            Thanks !

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Jon Solberg View Post
              Those look AMAZING! WTG
              Thanks !

              Comment


                #8
                Looks terrific, I enjoyed reading the commentary. Most of my cooks go about like this. Last night I started the grill at 49F, more food on and it was 35F, too lazy for a jacket so out in just shorts at 29F. Stepped in some wet coal dust stuff and tracked it into bed so that was lovely, then I needed a new basket of coals. I lit them up with my torch, and in slow motion I could see this burning ember fall out of the bottom, I knew it was gonna get my foot but I was helpless to stop it. Shook my foot but no good, by the time I put the chimney down it had burnt a pretty good hole.
                I can be lazy, but I think I will remember shoes and gloves at least.
                Last edited by _John_; January 25, 2015, 03:17 PM.

                Comment


                • Huskee
                  Huskee commented
                  Editing a comment
                  lol

                #9
                A, great write up and very humorous, especially at the end. Trial and Error method of learning (The best way but not always the most economical and can be hazardous to your health) was very present during your cook. And last but not least was your cook results. Quality, looks like you hit a home run.

                Congrats!!.....................................hop e you weren't burned to bad.

                Comment


                  #10
                  Very nice! I bet your neighbors were going crazy from the smell! Great commentary!
                  Last edited by smarkley; January 25, 2015, 04:26 PM.

                  Comment


                    #11
                    Originally posted by John View Post
                    Shook my foot but no good, by the time I put the chimney down it had burnt a pretty good hole.
                    I can be lazy, but I think I will remember shoes and gloves at least.
                    I was going to say I'm glad it's not just me, but ouch!

                    Comment


                      #12
                      Originally posted by smarkley View Post
                      Very nice! I bet your neighbors were going crazy from the smell! Great commentary!
                      That was the one downside - ribs don't put out as much of a smell as some bigger joints, so I didn't get the torture part of the cook right. Next time I'll do something that teases more

                      Comment


                        #13
                        I am pleased to call you a fellow Pit member! You persevered despite the obstacles. Ya done well son!

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                        Comment


                          #14
                          Originally posted by Huskee View Post
                          I am pleased to call you a fellow Pit member! You persevered despite the obstacles. Ya done well son!

                          [ATTACH=CONFIG]n57177[/ATTACH]
                          D'awwww, thanks.

                          But hard work is its own reward.... Ah, who'm I trying to kid? RIBS were the reward

                          Comment


                            #15
                            Regarding the stubbornly low temperatures: I crack the lid by maybe half an inch and point a blow dryer through the top of the smokenator to great effect.

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