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MichBadger

First cook fail - Baby back ribs

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Hello all,

 

I was surprised on Christmas morning by my wife with a new Akorn.  Although I had looked at Big Green Eggs in the past, this was a complete surprise to me as I have no experience with smokers or even grilling, other than simple steaks, burgers and chicken breast on my trusty Weber propane grill.  I'm not sure where she got the idea other than hearing me complain about having to pay between $15-$20 pound for smoked brisket at the local take out smoked meat place or Dickeys and still being disappointed by the product.  (I haven't been on this forum enough to know if Dickeys is viewed as a cuss word around here??)

 

My starting goal on the Acorn is to do brisket and BB ribs.  I've tried brisket in the oven twice, with mixed results.  Neither attempt was good enough to leave the family raving for more.  I do make ribs in the oven about twice a month, using a low and slow method of sealing them up in a cake pan for about 5-6 hours at 225.  After adding some sauce at the end, the family loves them, as do I.  They are completely fall off the bone style, which I know is not what a lot of people like, but we do.

 

So I assembled the Akorn on the day after Christmas, bought a bag of Royal Oak lump and set out to season the grate.  We were leaving for a ski trip the next day, so I didn't have time to even think about messing around with meat.  I started with a very small pile of lump, just to see what I could do for temperatures.  After about 2 hours, I couldn't get the temperature over 300 so I went back and added more.  I did another 2 hours between 300 and 450 trying to make adjustments to see what I could do.  I did fairly well at reaching and holding temperatures using tips from here.

 

Before we left for the trip, I ordered the Weber grate and a cast iron pan from Academy Sports to use as a diffuser, based on tips I read on here.  I'm still not sure what else I can use that cast iron pan for, but I've never had one before and hope I can find some uses.  I also started researching instant read and dual probe thermometers as I don't have either.  My grilling was based on using time and experience.  I haven't ordered a thermometer yet, but considering the Maverick ET-733 after my cook experience.

 

After the trip, I got up all excited yesterday morning to fire up the Akorn and get going on a couple of racks of ribs I had bought on the way home.  I filled up the Akorn to the tabs with the lump and some hickory chips mixed in.  I lit the fire using a small piece of some old paraffin based starter I have at home.  I added the diffuser and grate and I slowly brought up the temperature and was headed to about 250 to 275.  I did overshoot to about 350 and did some burps to get it back under 300.  I did get it to settle at about 275 before I put the ribs on, about 90 minutes after I had lit it.  I thought this would still work, but after doing some more reading, realizing I probably needed to be closer to 225.  The temp stayed steady between 275 and 300 the entire time I cooked for with very little change.  I did open the Akorn at about the 3 hr mark and threw a couple of sweet potatoes on the grate.  (In my mind, I was headed for 5 hours of cooking.)  I didn't check the meat at the time, even though looking back now, it was probably already done or past done.  It was very dark at that time, but I assumed it was the brown sugar based rub doing it's thing.  Once again, I don't have any experience with smokers or rubs, so not even sure I would have known how to check them.   After about another hour (4 total now), I opened it up again and realized my ribs were as dark as my lump charcoal.  I took them off and could barely get a knife through to separate the ribs.  I had made a nice double rack of rib jerky at this point.  I took some nice "before" pictures of the ribs going on the grill, but I couldn't even get myself to take the "after" picture.

 

So anyhow, I think I have pointed out some of my failings up above, but I'm also looking for other tips.  I've started to read about 2-2-1 or 2-1-1 or other methods with using foil and wondering if I need to read more into that that in order to make ribs.  I do think with a little more practice I could keep the temperatures down around 225.  I also think that a meat thermometer needs to be in my immediate future.

 

Any other analysis would be appreciated.  Thanks.

 

Ken

 

 

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4 hours ago, MichBadger said:

Hello all,

 

I was surprised on Christmas morning by my wife with a new Akorn.  Although I had looked at Big Green Eggs in the past, this was a complete surprise to me as I have no experience with smokers or even grilling, other than simple steaks, burgers and chicken breast on my trusty Weber propane grill.  I'm not sure where she got the idea other than hearing me complain about having to pay between $15-$20 pound for smoked brisket at the local take out smoked meat place or Dickeys and still being disappointed by the product.  (I haven't been on this forum enough to know if Dickeys is viewed as a cuss word around here??)

 

My starting goal on the Acorn is to do brisket and BB ribs.  I've tried brisket in the oven twice, with mixed results.  Neither attempt was good enough to leave the family raving for more.  I do make ribs in the oven about twice a month, using a low and slow method of sealing them up in a cake pan for about 5-6 hours at 225.  After adding some sauce at the end, the family loves them, as do I.  They are completely fall off the bone style, which I know is not what a lot of people like, but we do.

 

So I assembled the Akorn on the day after Christmas, bought a bag of Royal Oak lump and set out to season the grate.  We were leaving for a ski trip the next day, so I didn't have time to even think about messing around with meat.  I started with a very small pile of lump, just to see what I could do for temperatures.  After about 2 hours, I couldn't get the temperature over 300 so I went back and added more.  I did another 2 hours between 300 and 450 trying to make adjustments to see what I could do.  I did fairly well at reaching and holding temperatures using tips from here.

 

Before we left for the trip, I ordered the Weber grate and a cast iron pan from Academy Sports to use as a diffuser, based on tips I read on here.  I'm still not sure what else I can use that cast iron pan for, but I've never had one before and hope I can find some uses.  I also started researching instant read and dual probe thermometers as I don't have either.  My grilling was based on using time and experience.  I haven't ordered a thermometer yet, but considering the Maverick ET-733 after my cook experience.

 

After the trip, I got up all excited yesterday morning to fire up the Akorn and get going on a couple of racks of ribs I had bought on the way home.  I filled up the Akorn to the tabs with the lump and some hickory chips mixed in.  I lit the fire using a small piece of some old paraffin based starter I have at home.  I added the diffuser and grate and I slowly brought up the temperature and was headed to about 250 to 275.  I did overshoot to about 350 and did some burps to get it back under 300.  I did get it to settle at about 275 before I put the ribs on, about 90 minutes after I had lit it.  I thought this would still work, but after doing some more reading, realizing I probably needed to be closer to 225.  The temp stayed steady between 275 and 300 the entire time I cooked for with very little change.  I did open the Akorn at about the 3 hr mark and threw a couple of sweet potatoes on the grate.  (In my mind, I was headed for 5 hours of cooking.)  I didn't check the meat at the time, even though looking back now, it was probably already done or past done.  It was very dark at that time, but I assumed it was the brown sugar based rub doing it's thing.  Once again, I don't have any experience with smokers or rubs, so not even sure I would have known how to check them.   After about another hour (4 total now), I opened it up again and realized my ribs were as dark as my lump charcoal.  I took them off and could barely get a knife through to separate the ribs.  I had made a nice double rack of rib jerky at this point.  I took some nice "before" pictures of the ribs going on the grill, but I couldn't even get myself to take the "after" picture.

 

So anyhow, I think I have pointed out some of my failings up above, but I'm also looking for other tips.  I've started to read about 2-2-1 or 2-1-1 or other methods with using foil and wondering if I need to read more into that that in order to make ribs.  I do think with a little more practice I could keep the temperatures down around 225.  I also think that a meat thermometer needs to be in my immediate future.

 

Any other analysis would be appreciated.  Thanks.

 

Ken

 

 

It seems weird to me that they would be that dark at 3 hours even with the higher temps.  I hope ribs are a little more forgiving than that on temperatures.  I've cooked them one time right after I got my kamado, with the help of a family member who cooks in BBQ competitions.  Our temps were more around 250 because I was still figuring temp control out on it.  We basically used the 2-2-1 method.  We did not use a temp probe.  When the meat looked to be pulling from the bone, they were done.  So my guess would be that yours burned because you had them unwrapped for that long without basting or adding liquid.  I'm sure some others with more experience will chime in on that specifically.  But I would recommend using foil based on my very limited experience.

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You don't need to foil, that just adds more variables. Your ribs were simply over cooked. 275°-300° is fine for ribs, but 3-3.5 hrs at this temp is plenty.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I have that maverick, it's been a good one. Last year for Fathers Day, my wife got me an igrill 2, which I really really like because I can keep up with the temps on my phone, and back in the summer, I could monitor it from anywhere in my 1 1/2 acre yard, so I could put something on to cook and go work in the garden and still be able to keep up with temps. Absolutely love it. I just need to get a couple more probes for it, it will take up to four

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On 1/3/2017 at 11:21 PM, shuley said:

I had an Akorn and the dome temp was off. I'd look into that.

 

I have had my Akorn for a little over 2 years and the dome temp has consistently been lower by about 30-50 degrees than what my Maverick displays.

 

Devin

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A Maverick showed up yesterday thanks to Amazon prime.  I'm more excited about being able to measure meat temperature as my previous grilling method was to cut the meat open to look at the inside or guess based on time.  I hope to try again with some ribs this weekend.

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3 hours ago, MichBadger said:

A Maverick showed up yesterday thanks to Amazon prime.  I'm more excited about being able to measure meat temperature as my previous grilling method was to cut the meat open to look at the inside or guess based on time.  I hope to try again with some ribs this weekend.

 

Personally, I like to use a rib rack and you may wish to as well if you don't have one. This forum thread started by Philpom :good: helped me immensely when I began using my Akorn for "low and slow" cooks:

 

https://www.kamadoguru.com/topic/500-starting-a-fire-for-low-and-slow-definitive/

 

Devin

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I too have an Akorn and can attest that the dome thermometer takes a long time to get dialed in, or heat soaked so to speak. On really long cooks, it will eventually settle in and read pretty accurate with a digital thermometer. But on shorter cooks, I've seen it off by as much as 50 degrees through the majority of the cook. If I had to make an assumption to what happened with your ribs, I imagine that the grill was actually a lot hotter than the 275-300 that your dome was reading and in essence cooked the ribs too quick.

 

Over time I've learned how to judge the dome thermometer, but typically when cooking anything that needs to be done low and slow I still use my Maverick as a reference. Just don't get too carried away about every minor temp fluctuation when using a digital thermometer. If you do your going to spend your entire cook playing with the vents and chasing a 1-2 degree temperature change. My maverick actually bit the dust recently (my fault) so I've been strictly relying on the dome temp and an instant read pocket thermometer with great results. 

 

As far as how to cook your ribs and what method to use. I just throw them on and let them cook until they pass the bend test, usually adding a little sauce the last hour or so. But if you really want fall off the bone ribs, your probably going to need to foil at some point during the cook. What time to wrap them really depends on what type of ribs your cooking with and what your actual grate temp is. 

 

All in all it's a learning process so don't get discouraged. I've been grilling and smoking for years and years and I still screw something up from time to time. Given the price and difficulty of brisket though, I would start with ribs and pork shoulders until you are comfortable with the grill. Brisket is pretty unforgiving and while everyone in the family loves it when I cook one, I'm generally not happy with it myself. No matter how good it tastes or looks, I can always find something about it that I could have done better.

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I have done Ribs.. I like 2-1-1  and I like to wrap in foil on the first (1) with cocola(makes them tender like your family likes).. Then unfoil and baste them with your fav sauce for the last hour. Don't get down.. Theres def alot of veterans on here willing to help you. Good luck on your next cooks. 

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All, 

Thanks for your comments and tips.  I cooked some Ribeye steaks last night using the Maverick for the first time.  I did a reverse sear process and started with the both the meat and a temp probe clipped to the upper rack in my CGA cooker.  The temp probe was probably 4 inches from the dome thermometer and was showing temps 40-50 degrees higher than dome thermometer was showing. I had tested the Maverick probes in boiling water first to ensure they were reading correctly.   I also put the dome thermometer into my kitchen oven before assembly, and it seemed be be pretty close as well.  I'm not sure if the single degree temperatures in Michigan were affecting the dome thermometer temps, but I have more faith in the Maverick temps at this point.

The steaks came out perfect at medium rare, so it has given me a bit more confidence that I can try this again and nail it.  I'll probably split a rack in half and do some testing of foiled vs non foiled.

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Non foiled will come out tender but they won't be fall off the bone tender, if that's what your looking for. I like a slight tug with my ribs as well as something that I can grab and eat by the bone without the meat falling off in my lap lol. But my mom and aunt like ribs that literally fall off the bone when you pick them up, which results in eating them with a fork. There is no right or wrong way, it just comes down to personal preference. So when I'm cooking ribs for the entire family I always throw a rack in foil for them, I'll second what skreef said about the 2-1-1 method for baby backs if your going to foil them. I always do the first two hours with just the seasoned ribs and some apple and cherry chunks for smoke, then when I foil I usually add a little apple juice to the foil, unwrap after one hour of foil and add a light layer of sauce. Occasionally I'll add another layer of sauce after 15 minutes, but I never sauce during the last 30 minutes to give the sauce time to carmalise and become sticky.

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