Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boxing Day Ribs

And possibly the last smoke of the year. Time for some ribs. I had 6 slabs frozen from when they were on sale. I thawed them all out for a Boxing Day smoke.

Winter seems to have arrived and the temperature is 31° and it's cloudy. Occasionally we'll get some snow during the day. It's windy as well with winds reported at 18 mph out of the NNW. At 4:00 PM the wind is up to about 25 mph and can be heard occasionally howling. (gusts over 30 mph.)

I plan to do something different today. I just watched a competition on TV and every competitor wrapped their ribs part way through. I'm going to do a 3-2-1 (3 hours on the smoker, foil and hydrate for 2 hours followed by another hour unwrapped and perhaps add some sauce.

Though I trimmed the ribs a bit, I didn't do the St. Louis style trim so they wound up overlapping on the smoker. Hopefully that's not a problem. I will be moving them when I foil and again when I remove the foil for the last stage. While foiling I plan to add some apple juice and beer (but not both) to some of the ribs to see if that makes a difference.  (Probably 2 beer, 2 apple juice and 2 w/out.) I also did something else I've not done in the past - added salt and sugar to my rub. Not a lot really, but enough to perhaps make a difference. One more thing... I'll sort of stagger the removal from the oven  so that I can sauce the two top ribs and they will be beer and apple juice braised during the foiled period. That way I'll get to taste them with and without sauce. I'll try the toothpick method to mark them again.

I used a rub based on previous efforts with the primary exception that I actually added salt and sugar. Actual constituents were:
  • 1 Tbsp Thyme
  • 2 Tbsp ground Sage
  • 2 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp Oregano
  • 1 Tsp Chili Chipotle powder
  • 2 Tsp ground Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Ancho powder
  • 1 Tbsp Onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard powder
  • 1 Tbsp whole Mustard powdered
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/3 C Brown Sugar
I mixed in enough peanut oil in to make a slurry. 

The ribs were on the small size - likely a grower harvesting his herd a little early due to the drought problems. They all had a bit of the sternum attached so I cut that off and then trimmed about 3 more ribs from that end of each rack. It is interesting to note that all of the ribs came from the same side of the pig. I wonder what they do with the ribs from the other side of the pig.

The main rack pieces will go into the 18" WSM which has been equipped with a third grate positioned between the other two. That will put two racks on each grate. The trimmed pieces are going into the mini (converted WSM from a Smokey Joe.) The breast bone pieces are on the botton stacked like Lincoln logs three across in two layers. ;)

I'm using a Maverick ET-73 to measure the smoker temperature in both smokers. The meat probe is in the mini and the regular cooker probe is in the WSM. With ribs I really don't need to measure meat temperature.

Ribs in the WSM
timetemp comment
11:15 AM
Meat on!
12:11 PM181°Time to add more air I think. Went from one bottom vent to two bottom vents wide open.
12:55261°nice recovery.
1:10288°Closed one of the bottom vents to half.
2:45250°Ribs foiled and put in a 250° oven for 2 hours. (Empty cooker is at 255°. closing down to one vent part open.) There was still plenty of water in the pan.
4:00197°Will open up and stoke the fire before putting ribs back on this smoker.
Lifted the middle section off to add more charcoal and smoking wood.
4:33128°I'm going to lift the middle section to allow the fire to rekindle a bit more.
Meat back on the smoker. Some of it was pretty much done already. It cooked a lot while in the foil. Closed bottom vents to one full open.
5:36204°Meat off!

Rib trimmings in the miniWSM
timetemp comment
Meat on!
12:11 PM192°While opening bottom vents on the WSM I straightened the middle of the mini. That seems to have resulted in dropping temps. 
12:40150°Opened the bottom vent almost full.
2:35 149°
2:45143°Added some more smoking wood and more lump.
4:00196°Moving along just fine.
Rearranged the riblets on the top grate for better exposure. They look nearly done (meat pulling back on the bones.)
One of the packages in the oven is leaking and smoking the place up so oven off - time to unwrap these and put them on the fire. (Reassemble the WSM now)
Meat off!

Foiling the ribs almost overcooked them. They all produced liquid - even the ones that had no liquid added when foiling. The liquid washed away some of the smoke flavor. Here is what the tips looked like when ready to come off the mini.

Here is a comparison of the tips and a slab that was foiled.

  1. Don't foil every blasted slab. Try one or two slabs.
  2. Cool foiled ribs at 225° (not 250°)
  3. Foil ribs meat side up to reduce leaching of the smoke and rub flavors.

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