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Friday's rib cook, still learning

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  • Mbloto
    Club Member
    • Apr 2019
    • 75
    • Northern Illinois

    Friday's rib cook, still learning

    Yesterday I made a last minute decision to make some ribs. There was rain predicted for today and had promised my neighbor I would smoke some ribs this weekend.

    I ran over to Meijer’s to pick up some spareribs, which I prefer over backs. I like Meijer’s because none of their meat is “enhanced” with injected fluids, seems like all the other stores in the area only sell “enhanced” pre-packaged ribs. And my usual butcher, Ream’s in Elburn IL, doesn’t carry spares, I would have to call and order them a day or 2 in advance. They always have backs but not spares.

    I usually buy the whole spare rib and trim it to St. Louis style myself, freezing the trimmed tips for another cook (tips are another cut I love). But when I got to Meijer’s I noticed that they had St. Louis cut in the cooler. Since I was in a bit of a rush I decided to get these and save some time.

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    I peeled off the silver skin, trimmed them up (cut off the flap and squared them up a bit), salted them and popped them in the fridge or about 2 hours.
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    I then made up a batch of sauce (my own recipe). Got the grill set up with a 2x2 snak, a few pieces of Applewood and a pan with 2 quarts of boiling water.

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    Took the spares out of the fridge, brushed with olive oil and applied my favorite pork rub, about 2 tablespoons per slab.

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    Placed them on the 230 degree grill and threw another piece of Applewood on the lit coals. I decided to try using a rib rack for the first time, as the snake method doesn’t allow a lot of room. This was a mistake as the large slabs don’t fit well, with the ends curling over each other. So I decided to fold them over and use 2 slots for each slab.

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    2.5 hours later I didn’t like the way things were looking. Seemed like the spares weren’t cooking evenly top to bottom when placed on end. The snake had burned down enough to allow more food grate area so I cut the slabs at the bend and laid them flat on the grill.

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    Now I like my ribs sauced, so at hour 4 I coated both sides with my sauce, cooked for 30 minutes, then brushed on a second coat and cooked another 30 minutes. Then placed each piece over the hot coals for about 1 minute per side to caramelize the sauce and took them off.

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    They came out pretty good, smoky and sweet. I don’t care for “fall off the bone” tender, as I prefer some “bite” to the meat. These could have used another 30-60 minutes which would have made it a 6 hour cook instead of 5 hour.

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    A few lessons learned here. I’ll be skipping the rib rack in the future as it doesn’t really hold the full racks of ribs very well and if I cut the rib racks in half it won’t allow me to use the “lift & bounce method” to check for doneness. So I’ll use the S&S next time. But since I had a problem keeping a low temp with the S&S in the past, I’ll skip covering the coal grate with foil as this may be funneling too much air into the bottom of the S&S (maybe just a small piece to catch the drippings). I know I can use both the coal grate and food grate to get more ribs on but I think that would cause a greasy mess in the bottom of the kettle.

    I will also do a better job of trimming the racks of ribs. This time around the ribs at the small bone end were falling off the bone while the ribs at the large bone end were a bit too chewy. I need to achieve a consistent thickness if I want an even cook. So I will be chopping off a few ribs from each end. These can always be thrown on the grill as a “cook’s bonus” to munch on during the cook, along with the flap.
  • Mudkat
    Club Member
    • Feb 2017
    • 2128
    • At a river near me, MD
    • Weber Smokey Mountain 14.5"
      Weber 22" Kettel
      Weber Smokey Joe (2)
      One Grill 45" Rotisserie
      Lodge 5 qt. Dutch Oven
      Lodge 10.5" Double Loop Skillet
      Cast Iron 9" Skillet
      Cast Iron 12" Skillet
      Weber 22 Grill Grates
      Home Built 55 Gallon Ugly Drum Smoker - "MUDS"

    They look really good!


    • Mbloto
      Mbloto commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks. They will get better.
  • Spinaker
    • Nov 2014
    • 10377
    • Land of Tonka
    • John "J R"
      Instagram: JRBowlsby
      Smokin' Hound Que
      Minnesota/ United States of America

      Dexter (Beagle mix)
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      Broil King Keg
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      Pit Barrel Cooker
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      Weber Spirit Gasser
      FireBoard (Base Package)
      Thermoworks ThermaPen (Red)
      Thermoworks MK4 (Orange)

      BBQ Dragon
      Big Green Egg Plate Setter
      Benzomatic TS4000 Torch X 2
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      Bayou Classic 44 qt Stainless Stock Pot
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      Digi Q DX2 (Medium Pit Viper Fan)
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      Apple, Cherry & Oak Log splits for the C-60

      Buck 119 Special
      Dexter 12" Brisket Sword
      Next Major Purchase
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    This looks like a fine cook.

    When doing ribs, I like to cook them at about 275 F. I think I get a better product when it comes to the bark and texture. I, like you, prefer the slight bite or tug off the bone. Anyone can cook fall off the bone ribs. (simply wrap them in foil and braise them.) The real challenge is getting that bite just right. My point is don't worry too much about hitting 225 F. That is just a benchmark and nothing else. As I said above, I always cook my ribs at about 275 F and they come out just the way I like them.

    I also prefer not to use a water pan. I usually find that it creates a bit of a steam bath in the cooking chamber. But that is purely personal preference. I know many here like to use them.


    • Spinaker
      Spinaker commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah, that is nothing to worry about. Mbloto

    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      +1 on 275*. Just did 3 racks at that temp. 3 hours to get color, smoke and slight pull back. 1 hour in pink butcher paper, then 20 mins to tack up my bourbon whiskey sauce. Perfect bite through.

    • Mr. Bones
      Mr. Bones commented
      Editing a comment
      Hate to be ad nauseam, but, yup 275° is what I shoot fer. average...
      I never sweat it fer even a New York Minute, if it swings 50° one way, or t'other; truth be told, its done whan it's done, an probe tender (toothpick, in th case of ribd) done
      ymmv, I reckon...
  • RonB
    Club Member
    • Apr 2016
    • 11828
    • Near Richmond VA
    • Weber Performer Deluxe
      Pizza insert
      Smokenator 1000
      Cookshack Smokette Elite
      2 Thermapens
      lots of probes.

    If you want to use rib racks, get two. That way they won't curl over. And you can flip them top to bottom about half way through to even out the cookin'.


    • Mbloto
      Mbloto commented
      Editing a comment
      Great idea!
  • Huskee
    Pit Boss
    • May 2014
    • 14545
    • central MI, USA
    • Follow me on Instagram, huskeesbarbecue

      Want a free bottle of whiskey? Check out my link to Flaviar.com, you join with it, we both get a $50 bottle free.

      Smokers / Grills
      • Yoder loaded Wichita offset smoker
      • PBC
      • Grilla Silverbac pellet grill
      • Slow 'N Sear Deluxe Kamado (SnSK)
      • Dyna-Glo XL Premium dual chamber charcoal grill
      • Weber 22" Original Kettle Premium (copper)
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      • Weber Jumbo Joe Gold (18.5")
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      • Brinkmann cabinet charcoal smoker (repurposed)

      • (3) Maverick XR-50: 4-probe Wireless Thermometers
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      • Thermapen MkII, orange
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      • Instant Pot 6qt
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      • Slow 'N Sear Original, XL, and SnS Charcoal Basket (for Jumbo Joe)
      • Drip 'N Griddle Pan, 22' Easy Spin Grate, and Elevated Cooking grate, by ABCbarbecue
      • Pittsburgh Digital Moisture Meter

      • Favorite summer beer: Leinenkugels Summer & Grapefruit Shandy, Hamm's, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
      • Fav other beer: DAB, Sam Adams regular, Third Shift amber or Coors Batch 19, Stella Artois
      • Fav cheap beers: Pabst, High Life, Hamm's & Stroh's
      • Most favorite beer: The one in your fridge
      • Wine: Red- big, bold, tannic & peppery- Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauv, Sangiovese, Syrah, etc
      • Whiskey: Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, E.H. Taylor, Blanton's, Old Forester 1870, Elijah Craig, Basil Hayden's. Neat please.
      • Scotch: Current favorite- The Arran (anything by them), Glenmorangie 12yr Lasanta, sherry cask finished. The Balvenie Double Wood, also like Oban 18yr, and The Glenlivet Nadurra (Oloroso sherry cask finished) among others. Neat please.

      About me
      Real name: Aaron
      Location: Farwell, Michigan- near Clare. (dead center of lower peninsula)

      • Healthcare- Licensed & Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) for MidMichigan Health, a University of Michigan Health System.

    I cook at 225-250 on average, my main target is 240 for whatever reason. I don't use rib racks. I have cooked at 275 like Spinaker and that's a fine fine temp too. I like a lot of smoke on my ribs & a lot of rub, since I think pork is quite tasteless and i want my ribs to have all the smoke exposure they can, so I cook on the lower end of the spectrum to prolong smoke and develop a chewier bark since all my guests seem to prefer that.


    • Mbloto
      Mbloto commented
      Editing a comment
      Love that chewy bark!

    • JeffJ
      JeffJ commented
      Editing a comment
      The beauty of ribs is the amount of surface area relative to the meat. And yes, I also like a lot of smoke and rub for the reasons you cited.
  • FireMan
    Charter Member
    • Jul 2015
    • 7150
    • Bottom of Winnebago

    Well, for openers, those wibs look mighty fine! Liked your sear touch & the bark. Now, for when you do them next time, I think tomorrow will be just about a good time. 🕶


    • Santamarina
      Club Member
      • Aug 2018
      • 652
      • Wildomar, CA

      Looking good! I haven’t done spares (or StL) in years, as my family prefers backs. Might have to give them a go next time!


      • Mbloto
        Club Member
        • Apr 2019
        • 75
        • Northern Illinois

        Just a quick update.

        If one trims the spares to a 7-8 bone St. Louis cut (tips removed) and uses 2 racks, its works perfect for smoking multiple racks of spares.


        • BAT
          Club Member
          • Jul 2018
          • 4
          • Land of Lincoln

          Looks awesome, and also a fellow Reams fan here!!!




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