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Baby back ribs took longer than ever


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For my brother-in-law's 30th birthday he requested everyone's favorite food that they make. I happened to be the main course with baby back ribs. I got a pack of three racks at Costco (never gotten them there) and did them the day before, which was this past Saturday. I figured I would cook them and then we would basically steam them back to life in the oven the next day. I seasoned them several different ways and got the KJ3 up to 225, let it heat soak, and put the ribs on a rib rack at 11:45am.

 

PXL_20220521_164956102.thumb.jpg.f1d65a1691c90c02895f98d49a9939c7.jpg

 

These were fairly thick and long slabs, and as you can see they pretty much filled up the whole grill. I figured they would take 7 to 8 hours bunched in there like that. I was wrong. After 6 hours here they are...PXL_20220522_003353964.thumb.jpg.6d082e6a67dd881d18faf7c19a524081.jpg

 

Beautiful (in my opinion), but nowhere near done. I didn't end up pulling the front and the back ones off until 10:45 that night, and the ones in the center went a full 12 hours to 11:45. I kept testing them to see when they would crack, and they just weren't ready until then. The flavor the next day was fantastic, but the consistency was all over the place. One of them was fall apart tender, One of them would come off the bone easily but still had some resistance (which I prefer), and the third was a little dry. The weekend before I did 2 slabs at 225 directly on the grates, and they both were fantastic. I let the dome temp sit around 215 most of the day with these in the picture, assuming the grate temp was 225 or so. I flipped them around every few hours, and it did rain its butt off the last 4 hours. Have any of you run into this before? I always let the meat speak for itself when it's done, these just decided to give me the silent treatment for a while.

 

Btw, my dome thermometer is calibrated, and I stopped using my maverick years ago because it took some of the fun out of it all. Thanks in advance!

 

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I am with you on this.  Confused.  To me, ribs are the most inconsistent thing I cook.  I do them exactly the same way each time and never get the same results twice in a row. Almost wonder if the bone volume inside the meat has something to do with this.  I am sorry but I dont have an answer. Watching along with you to see other suggestions.

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12 hours for baby backs? Never had that happen. I always thought the 3-2-1 method was long, but you’ve set a new mark!

I cook ribs at 300° and they usually take just under 3 hours, but the cooking temp difference shouldn’t account for that much of a time difference. From what I can see, it looks like you’re using the SloRoller. I wonder if it has anything to do with airflow since the ribs take up so much space, even up into the dome when stacked on edge. Might have impeded the convection aspect of KJ cooking.
 

I’ve only cooked ribs on my KJ once and only did 2 racks because of the space limit. It’s the reason I keep my Pit Barrel Cooker around. It cooks ribs beautifully and I can hang 8 racks at a time in that thing.

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One thing that you can't entirely control is how much moisture is in the meat.  I think that this can have a large influence on cooking times.  You bought these from what was to you "an unfamiliar source."  Who knows where Costco sourced them from.

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Maybe wrapping might have helped?  I'm not as experienced with back ribs as I am with spare / STL, but that sounds crazy.

 

Also, heat rises, right?  Maybe the dome temp was reading higher than the actual temp at grate level?  I can't imagine it would be significant either way, but even if the meat was weird, temp sounds like the most likely culprit.

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I learned long ago that the meat is done when it wants o be done. Could be meat was cold, moisture in the meat thickness of ribs, the bone thing (?). When I use rib racks it does take a little longer to cook, possible do to  less meat directly exposed to heat from deflector plate. But 12 hrs?????? Did you rearrange the ribs during the cook? 

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I have done hundreds of racks of ribs over the years on various smokers. They are my favorite thing to cook and eat. I can tell you for a fact that 225 is too low. I find 250 to make a big difference. Also wrapping is crucial. If you want a firmer rib with more resistance wrap in butcher paper to keep them from steaming themselves. This will speed up your cook while still retaining moisture. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/28/2022 at 8:09 AM, len440 said:

I learned long ago that the meat is done when it wants o be done. Could be meat was cold, moisture in the meat thickness of ribs, the bone thing (?). When I use rib racks it does take a little longer to cook, possible do to  less meat directly exposed to heat from deflector plate. But 12 hrs?????? Did you rearrange the ribs during the cook? 

I flipped them over and changed swapped the front and the back ones, but the middle ones were too long to be anywhere but there.

 

On 5/29/2022 at 11:31 AM, Andy B said:

I have done hundreds of racks of ribs over the years on various smokers. They are my favorite thing to cook and eat. I can tell you for a fact that 225 is too low. I find 250 to make a big difference. Also wrapping is crucial. If you want a firmer rib with more resistance wrap in butcher paper to keep them from steaming themselves. This will speed up your cook while still retaining moisture. 

 

I think it may come down to being over filled. Those things probably insulated each other for a really long time. I've noticed with the rack they take a little longer, but never that long. They were pretty thick racks with some big bones. Who knows.

 

The two I did the weekend before were also at 225, but I did wrap them in butcher paper eventually, and they were great.

 

In the end, it was my fault for not firing up the big Joe. It had been awhile since I'd done a burn off, so it was gonna be a white smokey mess. The next day I burned them both off so I don't run into this the next time I do something bigger. Lesson learned...

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On 5/25/2022 at 9:41 PM, RoodyPooBBQ said:

Maybe wrapping might have helped?  I'm not as experienced with back ribs as I am with spare / STL, but that sounds crazy.

 

Also, heat rises, right?  Maybe the dome temp was reading higher than the actual temp at grate level?  I can't imagine it would be significant either way, but even if the meat was weird, temp sounds like the most likely culprit.

my only "argument" to this would be that the dome temp was held for 12 hours according to OP.... I don't see how the dome temp could have been held that long of the temp at the rack wasn't that same temp. something does seem odd with a 12 hour cook for ribs.

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