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Baby Back Ribs "taking forever"

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  • MarkN
    Club Member
    • Aug 2019
    • 43
    • Northern Indiana

    Baby Back Ribs "taking forever"

    Sorry for the long post but …

    My wife and I traveled the 4 hours drive to visit her mother for Labor Day weekend, and my wife volunteered me to make ribs for a Sunday cookout for her family (mom, several brothers and a sister plus spouses). No problem. I looked for St. Louis cut ribs but could only find baby backs. Picked up a couple of racks that were pretty good size and was ready to go.

    The plan was to start cooking at Noon, smoke them on the Weber grill for a few hours, then move them to the oven to finish so I could grill brats. The goal was dinner around 5PM (figuring on about 4 hours plus a little extra for the baby back ribs). After 3 hours on the Weber at 225°F (first time I popped the lid) the ribs were doing fine but were not ready. Moved them to the oven set at 225°F and prepped the grill for the brats.

    At 4 hours, I checked the ribs. Several spots checked with an instant read thermometer showed 140°F and a bend test confirmed they were not ready. At 5 hours, I checked the ribs. Several spots checked with an instant read thermometer showed 150°F and a bend test confirmed they were not ready. At 5 1/2 hours, I checked the ribs. Several spots checked with an instant read thermometer showed 160°F and a bend test confirmed they were not ready. People were getting hungry so I started the brats.

    At 6 hours, I checked the ribs. Several spots checked with an instant read thermometer showed 170°F and a bend test confirmed they were not ready. The brats were ready so we began dinner with a promise of ribs to come shortly.

    At 6 1/2 hours, I checked the ribs. Several spots checked with an instant read thermometer still showed at 170°F and a bend test confirmed they were not ready. I upped the oven temperature to 240°F and announced we would have ribs for dessert.

    At 7 hours, I checked the ribs. Several spots checked with an instant read thermometer still showed 170°F and a bend test confirmed they were not ready. At 7 ½ hours, I checked the ribs. Several spots checked with an instant read thermometer still showed 170°F and a bend test confirmed they were not ready. One of my brothers-in-law volunteered to try one, so I cut off an end rib and gave it to him. He said he knew what I was looking for (meat to come clean off the bone but not falling off) and while he confirmed these ribs were not there yet, they were better than anything he had ever served. So I said “What the heck” (or words to that effect) and finished the ribs (painted with a little BBQ sauce, put under the broiler until the sauce bubbled and cut them up for serving).

    The taste was what I was shooting for but they just weren’t done. Were they going through a “stall” like one sees with a brisket? My past experience had always been that baby back ribs take 3-4 hours and St. Louis cut 5-6. 7 ½ hours and still not done? What’s up with that? Was it the ribs themselves? Was it me?

    Any thoughts?
  • barelfly
    Club Member
    • Dec 2017
    • 675
    • New Mexico

    #2
    That is a long time for bb ribs. As a “crutch” you could have wrapped in foil and turned the temp in the oven to get them finished. But it could have just been those two racks of ribs acting up.

    Were you on a webber kettle or a WEBER gasser?

    Comment

    • jgreen
      Charter Member
      • Oct 2014
      • 2493
      • Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
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      #3
      Did you have a good thermometer for the grill? Maybe at meat level it was running Les than 225. You also mentioned they were a good size and I have found that larger BB’s do take longer to cook although your time sounds unusual.

      Comment

      • Medusa
        Charter Member
        • Sep 2014
        • 660
        • For those who are about to Cook - WE SALUTE YOU!

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        #4
        Originally posted by MarkN View Post
        My past experience had always been that baby back ribs take 3-4 hours and St. Louis cut 5-6. 7 ½ hours and still not done? What’s up with that?
        Your times are pretty spot-on for the ribs mentioned above. You say you moved them to the oven to finish them? I'd check the oven temp and see if it is way off. Something is rotten in Denmark

        Good luck! --Ed

        Comment

        • MarkN
          Club Member
          • Aug 2019
          • 43
          • Northern Indiana

          #5
          I used a regular Weber kettle charcoal grill using a Maverick ET-732 to check the temperature. I did not verify the temperature of the oven, so that is one possibility.

          Comment

          • Steve R.
            Club Member
            • Jul 2016
            • 1925
            • Elizabethtown, KY
            • Current line-up of cookers: Weber 22.5" Original Premium kettle w/ SnS and BBQ Guru adapter; Old Country Over and Under smoker; PBC; Weber Ranch Kettle w/ Guru adapter.

            #6
            Were these bbr's thicker than normal? Maybe a lot of extra loin meat? Also, life is too short to cook at 225, imho.

            Comment


            • Bobmcgahan
              Bobmcgahan commented
              Editing a comment
              Agreed. For ribs, I cook at 245-250. It makes a difference. I only cook at 225 for pork butt and I plan to smoke for 19-20 hours.
          • Reds Fan 5
            Charter Member
            • Sep 2014
            • 238
            • Western Springs, IL
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            #7
            As a general rule, always good to plan for longer cook time with ribs. My kettle runs a little hot even with SnS and no leaks so my temp for ribs is 235-245. I'm typically finished in 5 hours but I've had spares go six+. Not sure how reliable instant read is on ribs--too easy to poke through the meat or hit bone with the probe. Agree with others here--likely issue was inaccurate cooker temp readings.

            Sorry for the challenging cook, especially with the pressure to cook for the extended family. Good luck with your next run!

            Comment

            • MarkN
              Club Member
              • Aug 2019
              • 43
              • Northern Indiana

              #8
              Yes, the meat was thicker than most I had seen. I used the meat thermometer only as a preliminary check, always verifying with the bend test. I just now checked the oven with my ET-732 and the oven "dinged" 225°F while I was reading only 207. Maybe it was the combination of these things that caused the slow cook.

              Comment

              • Santamarina
                Club Member
                • Aug 2018
                • 605
                • Wildomar, CA

                #9
                Every once in a while I get baby backs that take longer, but as it seems you discovered, low cook temps may have been the culprit. I usually run ribs a little hotter - 250-275°F. If wrapping and taking inside to finish I’ll run the over up to 325°F to finish them. When running hot on ribs make sure your water pan is WELL supplied, it’s easy for those little things to dry out.

                Comment

                • klflowers
                  Club Member
                  • Sep 2015
                  • 2406
                  • Tennessee

                  #10
                  My last baby back cook went close to 6 hours at 230. Luckily I was cooking them for the wife and I, we ended up eating some wings and had the ribs the next day.

                  Comment

                  • RonB
                    Club Member
                    • Apr 2016
                    • 11205
                    • Near Richmond VA
                    • Weber Performer Deluxe
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                    #11
                    I now shoot for 250* - 275* for ribs, and if I get even a hint that they are behind schedule, I start bumpin' the temp up. And I continue to bump the temp until I think they are on schedule. If they are done early, I cambro them. And if I am going to sauce them, I do that just before serving and broil them in the oven until the sauce is where I want it.

                    Comment


                    • Medusa
                      Medusa commented
                      Editing a comment
                      This works for me. Have had the kettle run hot due to leaks but the faux always comes through. I've held 'em for over 1 1/2 hr and the foil pan (bottom) is still hot to the touch.
                  • mountainsmoker
                    Club Member
                    • Jun 2019
                    • 1467
                    • Bryson City, NC

                    #12
                    BB's being composed of loin meat can be a bear to cook, so much so I quit cooking them. I always cooked them at 275 when I cooked them and they were nearly always done in 4 hours done aaaand then there were the ones take took longer and throw every thing off. It happens less with spares that BB's I have found.

                    Good luck on your next smoke.

                    Comment

                    • mgaretz
                      Founding Member
                      • Jul 2014
                      • 721
                      • San Ramon, CA
                      • Mark Garetz
                        Rec Tec pellet grill
                        Weber Genesis Gasser
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                      #13
                      Next time give Blasphemy Ribs a try. Done in 2.5 hours.

                      Comment


                      • jfmorris
                        jfmorris commented
                        Editing a comment
                        My favorite method now, if I am cooking 3 slabs or less! I up the heat too.
                    • Bobmcgahan
                      Club Member
                      • Jul 2018
                      • 74

                      #14
                      As an aside, I have found ribs on the Pit Barrel Cooker amazing. I'm sure the wife wouldn't appreciate yet another smoker but for $299, it's a worthy addition to the arsenal. Cooks at 275 degrees and done in four hours. My two cent.

                      Comment

                      • Huskee
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                        • May 2014
                        • 14035
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                        #15
                        I recommend skipping the 'extra thick & meaty' back ribs. As you found out and has been mentioned, they're thicker generally speaking because there's more loin meat on them. Butchers often do this because pork loin is dirt cheap, whereas baby back ribs are expensive, and many people think thicker baby back ribs are better, win win for the butcher.

                        When you have to heat up that extra thickness of meat, not only does it take longer, but by the time the center meat gets up to the 190ish range where it's luscious and "done", the outer layers of loin meat are now dry and unappealing. I recommend looking for baby backs under 3lbs, say 2.5 to 2.75 lbs/rack. If you can't find them that small, fillet the top layer of meat off so the rack is more uniform across, and use that meat for stirfry or something while you're smoking them. Something Meathead's ribs article doesn't cover is the starting size of baby back ribs. I have had them take 9hrs before, and they weren't very good by the time they were finished. Lesson learned. This why baby back ribs are popular, small, thinner loin backs!

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