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Benm3

Some thoughts on Heat Deflectors & St Louis Style Ribs

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I did another set of test run on St. Louis style ribs this past weekend in preparation for a big cook this weekend.  The 3 racks of ribs were dry rubbed and then cooked unfoiled in a rib rack standing up for 5 1/2 hours at 225.  I used my Flameboss, so temps were very stable throughout the cook.  

 

Details:  

- Used Hickory and Apple for smoke (Really like this combo for ribs, one large chunk of Hickory and 3-4 smaller chunks of apple, creates a great, not overwhelming smoke profile which can overpower ribs)

-Started at 225 for the first 3 hours, then raised to 250 for the remainder 2 1/2 hours.  

 

Results: 

- Ribs still have some bite to then, were not fall off the bone tender (this is fine)

- Some of the rack ends were a bit drier than the rest

- Good ribs, but in my opinion not perfect yet

 

Some thoughts:

-I have been putting the pit probe attached to the dome thermometer stem.  This give me an exact match wise with my Tel Tru dome thermometer, but I am not sure if that is the best place to put the controller probe as I am cooking on the grate and not in the dome.

- I am thinking of moving the pit probe back to the grate to get a more accurate cook temp, although this has always given me a discrepancy between the grate and dome temp.

- I had a chance to see the new KJ with the new hinge this weekend and I do love how easy it is to raise and lower the lid.  Additionally, I notice how much the heat deflector covers the diameter of the grill.  The Pit Boss deflector has significant gaps around the circumference of the heat deflector while the KJ one does not.  I think there may be advantages and disadvantges to both designes, the KJ full coverage is better for low and slows as it shields the item cooking better while the Pit boss design may be better for pizzas as it allows more heat to come up and over the deflector.  

- I had a crazy though last night to try to mimic the coverage of the KJ deflector, so I went online and ordered both a 19 inch deflector from Ceramic Grill store and the 20 inch Kamado Joe set to see which one fits best.  My thinking here is to only use them on low and slow and indirect cooks besides pizza to give full protection to the meats being cooked above to eliminate exposure to direct heat.  

- The grate diameter of the Pit boss grate is 20.5 so both deflectors should work.  

 

Any thoughts?

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I agree on putting a controller Pit probe near the food, not near the dome thermometer. 

 

A deflector that is wider than the ribs will protect the ends better. It will also push more heat to the felt line and char your gasket faster, so I would limit use to low temp cooks and/or pre-order a spare gasket.  The 19" should be enough to block any direct heat and line of site IR from hitting food above and should give substantially more room for airflow than the 20".  You still may have some uneven heating so play with the distance between the deflector and the cooking grate. 

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With respect to your heat deflector comment(s), I would make the following observations.  You don't need the heat deflector to cover the entire width of the grill.  That really kind of defeats the whole purpose of convection cooking.  Rather, you want the deflector to cover 85% - 90% of the width.  Take a look at the BGE Plate Setter (I know it's called something else nowadays).  There are major gaps between the side and the deflector.  In spite of those gaps, there are some great cooks turned out every day on BGEs.  

 

Where you will run into trouble is when the deflector doesn't cover enough of the grate to shield the cook from direct heat.  That leads to overcooked ribs, etc.

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23 minutes ago, CeramicChef said:

With respect to your heat deflector comment(s), I would make the following observations.  You don't need the heat deflector to cover the entire width of the grill.  That really kind of defeats the whole purpose of convection cooking.  Rather, you want the deflector to cover 85% - 90% of the width.  Take a look at the BGE Plate Setter (I know it's called something else nowadays).  There are major gaps between the side and the deflector.  In spite of those gaps, there are some great cooks turned out every day on BGEs.  

 

Where you will run into trouble is when the deflector doesn't cover enough of the grate to shield the cook from direct heat.  That leads to overcooked ribs, etc.

For cooks other than ribs, I have had no problems.  Whole chickens, ducks, pork butts, etc.  It the ribs that I seem to have the most trouble with with the exposed gaps.  The Pitboss Plate setter is a exact design replica of the BGE's down to the legs.  Come to think of it, I also have trouble when cooking large amounts of chicken drumsticks, as the drumsticks over the gaps cook faster/char more than the ones that are protected.  The KJ Plate setter covers almost the entire firebox so there is very little direct line of site to the grate.  

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1 hour ago, Benm3 said:

.......... It the ribs that I seem to have the most trouble with with the exposed gaps. 

 

usually the ends of the ribs have very lean meat with little to no fat.  I usually cut these pieces off and save or grill them because the absence of fat that causes them to dry out.

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So I had the exact same question on my pit boss.  It is here in this thread. https://www.kamadoguru.com/topic/34704-adding-smoke-wood-for-longer-cooks/?page=2

I used a sheet pan (cookie sheet) to fill the gap and act as a drip pan. This seemed to worked well to keep the end ribs from overcooking.  I too am doing a big rib cook this weekend on my Pit Boss. (8 or so racks of St. Louis).  I am going to use the setup in that thread, but instead am ditching the rib rack and using both levels of grates to hold a total of 4 racks of St. Louis ribs. Then do two full cooks.  I just dont like the way the ribs sit in the rack I have.  I would love to see your setup. 

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1 hour ago, soccerdad said:

So I had the exact same question on my pit boss.  It is here in this thread. https://www.kamadoguru.com/topic/34704-adding-smoke-wood-for-longer-cooks/?page=2

I used a sheet pan (cookie sheet) to fill the gap and act as a drip pan. This seemed to worked well to keep the end ribs from overcooking.  I too am doing a big rib cook this weekend on my Pit Boss. (8 or so racks of St. Louis).  I am going to use the setup in that thread, but instead am ditching the rib rack and using both levels of grates to hold a total of 4 racks of St. Louis ribs. Then do two full cooks.  I just dont like the way the ribs sit in the rack I have.  I would love to see your setup. 

You're method is much more economical than what I am doing.  LOL.  I figure ceramic deflectors are always good either for pizza or for deflecting heat.  I just made a batch of neopolitan dough that is not cold fermenting.  I get the 19 inch deflector today so I'll test fit it and post some pics of it.  

 

2 FULL COOKS?  That's about 11 hours total. I've found the Pit Boss, unfoiled at 225 it takes about 5 1/2 hours for competition style tenderness, which means the meat pulls clean when biting from the bone, but rest of meat will stay intact.  I'm a perfectionist so have done multiple runs of ribs to test, both St Loius and Baby Back.  I've been doing St. Louis lately, but may go back to Baby back.  Even though it sometimes doesn't seem like it, the meat to bone ratio is actually a bit great on Baby Back vs St. Loius.  

 

You could probable squeeze 6 racks in at a time without the rib rack, but you would have to use both grids, the lower and upper.  Suggestion:  Hacksaw the handle for opening the lower grate hinge side to give you added room on the grate as I find the standing up handle takes up useful space.  I actually have a set up to go 3 grates high which would solve your 8 rack cook space need.   Take a look at this post:

So a couple of things I am going to do this weekend on my cook.  I am doing 3 racks of St. Louis Style, although may also pick up a pack of Baby Backs to do as well.  I plan to bump the temp a bit from 225 with the temp probe clipped to the thermometer to 250-275 with probe at grate level.  I've been reading Aaron Franklins new book and he cooks everything at 275 although may be slightly different since he uses large offset smokers.  He also foils the ribs for the last 2 hours which is un-needed in the moist environment of a Kamado.  My last batch was near perfect except for the ends which were drier and overcooked, but the increased coverage of the larger heat deflector should solve that. 

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Hmmm.  Costco has baby backs for the exact same price as St. Louis.  The BBs are a little narrower, and I should be able to fit at least three on a rack.  And they may cook a little quicker.  Now if I only had your racking system, I could cook 9 racks at once. Or since BBs are not quite a big, use my rib rack and do 5 on it and 3 on the top grid if I can rig it.

 Good suggestion on the handle.  I already noticed it was in the way. 

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7 hours ago, soccerdad said:

Hmmm.  Costco has baby backs for the exact same price as St. Louis.  The BBs are a little narrower, and I should be able to fit at least three on a rack.  And they may cook a little quicker.  Now if I only had your racking system, I could cook 9 racks at once. Or since BBs are not quite a big, use my rib rack and do 5 on it and 3 on the top grid if I can rig it.

 Good suggestion on the handle.  I already noticed it was in the way. 

BB do cook quicker.   About 1 1/2-2 hours quicker.   I don't think you can use the rib rack with the top grid.  I don't think there is enough clearance.  You'll have to lay them flat, 4 on the main grid, and 3 top, Maybe you can squeeze in 5 on the main.....maybe the BB will work.  I got the larger deflector and took some pics. I'll post them in a sec.

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Large Ceramic Diffuser B.jpg

Excuse the dirty Drip Pan.  It was from my trial run rib cook from last weekend.  To give you a reference.  The drip pan is 15.5 inches in diameter.  This is the  19 inch stone from Ceramic grill store.  

 

Large Ceramic Diffuser.jpg

 

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