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toddwchandler

0-2 On Babyback Ribs, Help Please

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Well, I read all kinds of articles about smoking baby back ribs and have pretty much ruined a rack each of the last two Sundays. 

 

Last Sunday I curved the rack and stuck skewers through it since the whole rack won't fit on the Akron Jr. I just left them on the grate, no mopping, no basting, no fouling and they turned into a dried out disgusting mess.  

 

Today I tried this:

 

https://snapguide.com/guides/smoke-baby-back-ribs-2/

 

I cut the rack I half this time so it would all fit on the Jr.  Everything was going beautifully until the foiling.  The ribs were looking good but I went ahead and fouled them with the honey, butter, and brown sugar.  After pulling the ribs after an hour in foil, a found a charred black mess all over the ribs.  It was like the brown sugar burned and turned into a nasty black mess.   I was able to ding through the burned crust and salvage a little good meet but it was mostly a disaster.  

 

I am guesssing that a lot of these articles online describing how to smoke ribs are for traditional smokers and maybe not kamado cookers.   Maybe the kamado cooks faster and I'm overlooking these ribs. 

 

Can someone one point me to a definite guide on how to smoke baby back robs on the Akron Jr?   Two racks of innocent ribs have been sacrificed and I don't want to waste any more.  Thanks guys!

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I hate to take such a lazy approach, but watch this video. I've done these two or three times and they were ridiculously good. He uses St. Louis in the video but same method applies for baby backs. 

 

The only thing i omitted was the spray he uses, I think I just poured some apple juice into the foil in the latter half of the cook because I didn't have a suitable red wine or spritzer bottle. Also I swapped out his BBQ rub for one I found locally (any pork BBQ rub will do) and I used real butter over that fake stuff in the the blue bottle he uses! Make sure your temp is 225 to 275, and make sure you're using a good thermometer to measure the grate surface as e built in dome thermo is way off. 

 

 

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I definitely need to get a new digital thermometer that has two probes so that I can monitor the grate temperature.  

 

Everything that I have cooked on my Akron Jr. seems to have cooked faster than I anticipated it would.  If I follow a tutorial that says something should take around 8 hours to reach a particular internal temp for instance, mine might take 7 hours.   My gut is starting to tell me that the dome temp is possibly reading higher than the temp really is at the grate. 

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Todd on my last Jr. the thermometer was out by 80 degrees.  It sounds to me like you are cooking way too hot.  I cook ribs all the time in the Jr. coiled St. Louis style dry rubbed and my friends rave about them.  B/B's don't take quite as long but generally the spares are close to 5 hours at 225˚F

 

Are you using a diffuser?  If not you need the smokin stone or something to give you indirect heat.  Sugar burns easily at high temps.  

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If you charred them, I guess you burnt the sugars.  I find my Jr dome probe is not reading the same temp as the maverick at the grates, even right after a boiling water test.  

 

You are are on the right track. Try again!  

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Ordering a dual probe thermometer today.

 

The dome thermometer reading being off has to be what is going on.   I had previously said that I thought it was reading higher than the actual grate temperature, but I had it backward.   I'm pretty sure it is reading lower.

 

I think you guys are right about the brown sugar simply burning.   There is just no reason that it should have at the temps that I thought I had the smoker at.

 

First thing I'm going to do when I get the new thermometer is fire up the Akorn Jr. to about 300 degrees and then compare the dome thermometer to the digital.   Should be interesting.

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7 hours ago, K'man said:

Todd on my last Jr. the thermometer was out by 80 degrees.  It sounds to me like you are cooking way too hot.  I cook ribs all the time in the Jr. coiled St. Louis style dry rubbed and my friends rave about them.  B/B's don't take quite as long but generally the spares are close to 5 hours at 225˚F

 

Are you using a diffuser?  If not you need the smokin stone or something to give you indirect heat.  Sugar burns easily at high temps.  

 

This is more or less exactly the way I cook them, St. Louis ribs vertical on rib rack dry rubbed cooked indirect. 

 

 

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@toddwchandler I agree with the thermometer issue.

 

Also I read the instructions from the link in your first post. It had the temperature at 275* (which is fine) but the total cook time was 4 hours 45 minutes (if I read it right). That is way too long for baby back ribs unless you had an exceptionally meaty rack. 

 

At 275* your expected cook time for baby back ribs would be closer to 3 hours. And if your temperature was really 325* (dome 50* high) then it would finish closer to 2 hours 30 minutes.  Regardless you need to judge when they are done with the bend test not some magical time. 

 

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I can't cook ribs right to save myself - think I have given up at this point.  I don't even really like to eat them, but I would find myself cooking them time and time again trying to chase a decent finished product.  My husband didn't complain too much about having to deal with disposing of the results, so I guess they didn't turn out that bad.  Reading along to see if I have any revelations from the input.....

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+1 to both diffuser and thermometers. The first is mandatory for low-n-slow cooking, the second nearly so as low and slow normally cooks to a temperature.

 

However, ribs are one meat that cooks to a criterion, that the meat has shrunk back from the end of the ribs. Meat naturally contracts as it cooks; bones don't. Meat should not be falling off the bone, but rather come off the bone very easily. I like ~3/8" bone, but your tastes may vary. You can always leave them on longer, or move them to an oven. 

 

I'm a great fan of foil for long cooks, wrapping the meat after ~6 hours. Ribs are done in 3-4 hours, so no foil.  

 

Have fun,

Frank

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On 9/18/2017 at 9:36 AM, toddwchandler said:

Ordering a dual probe thermometer today.

 

The dome thermometer reading being off has to be what is going on.   I had previously said that I thought it was reading higher than the actual grate temperature, but I had it backward.   I'm pretty sure it is reading lower.

 

I think you guys are right about the brown sugar simply burning.   There is just no reason that it should have at the temps that I thought I had the smoker at.

 

First thing I'm going to do when I get the new thermometer is fire up the Akorn Jr. to about 300 degrees and then compare the dome thermometer to the digital.   Should be interesting.

 

 

Pay no attention to the dome other than to note how off it is (low). From here on out when doing a low n slow, only pay attention to the pit probe. Not worth it to try and calibrate the two in your mind as it will only confuse.

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I have found that both my Akorn and my Akorn Jr dome thermometers are off. They are 50-60 degrees COOLER than the grate temps, as verified by a digital thermometer at the grate.

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This is by no means a defense of dome thermometer accuracy, but unless you've done the boiling water calibration test, you may be discarding real data. 

 

The dome thermometer on my Akorn has a 10 degree scale, and it reads

- 115+F with 118F hot tap water

- 210 with 211F boiling water

compared with a ThermoPen of known calibration placed adjacent to the test unit.  

 

That said, I see the 50-100F differences between the dome temp and sensors on the grill others ahve mentioned. And I see a 500F dome temp before I put on food, which never recovers past 400F afterward. My explanation is not that the readings are bad, but rather, that temperature varies. Here's what I conclude.

 

When I preheat to 500F for direct cooking, the fire is directly radiating heat into the dome thermometer in addition to that coming from the air (convection). When I put on the food, it blocks the fire and absorbs the radiation that's causing the thermometer to read overly high, resulting in the observed 380-400F cook temperature. BTW, a sensor on the grill does the same thing. 

 

With the deflector in place, the fire can no longer directly heat the dome thermometer, so now mine reads lower than a probe at grill level by about 50F. As a long cook proceeds, this difference drops until they agree. This tells me that an instant read probe at grill level will be a better judge of cooking temperature than a slow-read design mounted on high against a side wall. Initially. Once thermal the cooker reaches thermal equilibrium, the dome probe catches up.  

 

So criticize the dome thermometer at your peril; it may not be fooling you. 

 

Have fun,

Frank,

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So my dual probe thermometer came yesterday and I went ahead and did a little test.

 

I attached one probe to the grate.  I did not have the Smokin’ Stone Jr. in for this test and did not have any meat on the grate. 

 

I set my thermometer to alert me when it read 350 degrees and then I closed down the vents to slowly walk it up to 400 degrees. 

 

When the thermometer read 400 degrees I went out to compare the dome thermometer to the digital reading at the grate.  

 

I found that the dome thermometer was reading 320 degrees while the digital one sat right at 400. 

 

I know there is debate on whether the 80 degree variance between the two makes a difference.  I am just sharing my findings.  

 

I am curious how/if this will impact my next rib smoking session.   I’m going to try again next week, relying on the digital readings to dial on my temps.  

 

I’ll let you guys know the results.  Thanks for all of the feedback. 

 

 

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