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No Foil Baby Back Ribs Fail - Need Tips and Technique


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I messed up 3 baby/loin back rib racks this weekend. Sorry, no pics. The meat between the bones, from the bottom side up, was crunchy. But the meat on top of the bones was good. The meat was also too salty.

Setup (from top down): ribs on upper grate, main grate empty, dry foil pan to catch grease, ceramic diffuser, lump.

Rub amounted to 1 tablespoon of salt per slab using a 3-pack from SAMs.

CyberQ read 250 between the main and upper grates. Cooked for 4.5 hours. Ribs were laid flat on upper grate, bones down entire cook.

Fixing the rub is easy, reduce the salt.

The hard part is figuring out how to prevent crunchy meat on no foil ribs.

I read over the recent threads on no foil ribs, but they did not get detailed on technique. What techniques shoud be used with no foil ribs?

Rib rack? This would somewhat protect the bottom side compared to laying flat.

Roll the Ribs? This would also somewhat protect the bottom side.

Foil Sheet? Cook the ribs bone down directly on a sheet of foil. The foil will protect the underside and provide a slight steaming effect (maybe?), keeping the tops exposed.

Check for Doneness Sooner? Start checking at 3.5 hours, but in my case, the tops would have been underdone.

Other thoughts and suggestions for no foil ribs? Thanks.

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The only thing I can think of is either putting the ribs on the main, or a sheet of foil on the main. It simply sounds like the bottoms got direct heat. Your set up sounds fine, I just normally cook mine on the main level. Do you have a dome thermo? If so, what was the temp?

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Yeah, I'm kinda at a loss. I never foil ribs and my setup sounds exactly like yours:

 

Diffuser in the low position, foil or drip pan, grates at felt level, ribs laid bone side down. 

 

Now my last set (3 large racks from Costco) were done at right at around 4 hours. I basted them and popped them back in just to set the sauce for maybe 10 mins. The little thin end bits were a tad overdone, but the main bulk of ribs was perfect. My temps hover between 225° and 250° (dome thermometer) most of the time. 

 

I'm curious to see what others say. 

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Is there a reason you cooked on the upper grate?

I recall seeing someone else do that. No other reason. I am thinking the bottoms were getting the brunt of the heat, whereas if I put them on the main grate, the bottoms would have been better protected from the diffused heat coming up the sides.

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Is there a reason you cooked on the upper grate?

I recall seeing someone else do that. No other reason. I am thinking the bottoms were getting the brunt of the heat, whereas if I put them on the main grate, the bottoms would have been better protected from the diffused heat coming up the sides.

That's what I'm thinking. Otherwise, everything looks great. I always cook on the main, or put your temp probe on the level with the ribs.

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My last rib cook I did 6 racks from Costco on my BJ without the extender rack. I used a rib rack for 5 of the racks and cut the last rack in half and stood it up leaning against both ends of the rack. I turned them all around at about 2 1/2 hrs, to try and get even cooking and everything worked out great. The only thing I can see with your setup was using the upper grate, without anything between it and your diffusers plates. I think this put too much heat on the bottom of your ribs.

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I agree with everyone who said that the issue was with putting ribs on the top rack. Even with a diffuser in place, the hot air can accumulate up there.

 

Here are two pieces of evidence.

 

First, there are a lot of kamado pizza fans who swear by putting the pizza on the top rack to get better results and a crispier crust. That wouldn’t happen unless heat accumulated up there. In addition, if your lid is heat soaked, it’s going to be giving off heat to your food to a greater degree on the top rack than if it was on the main rack (although I think this is a minor factor).

 

Second, pretend that an atomic bomb went off, and you see a cement wall that could shield you from the heat blast. Do you stand far away from the wall, or get right up against it? The same thing happens with your meat.

 

For me, I don’t foil my ribs. Here’s my setup:

 

Grill at 225ºF.

Diffuser in place. 

Use main rack.

Bone side down.

If I need extra room, then I use the upper rack.

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The only thing I can see with your setup was using the upper grate, without anything between it and your diffusers plates. I think this put too much heat on the bottom of your ribs.

Agree, next time ribs are going on the lower rack unless there is a lot of other food on the main rack to absorb some of the rising heat.

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I agree with everyone who said that the issue was with putting ribs on the top rack. Even with a diffuser in place, the hot air can accumulate up there.

Agree, the large void of space between the lower rack and the upper rack allowed for too much heat to accumulate below the ribs causing the bottoms to cook much faster than the tops.

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