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Ribs, how to keep them moist on the BBQ


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#1 wawa

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 05:53 PM

Hello all

I have a set of baby back ribs ready in the freezer and now that the sumer is finaly arriving I wish to grill/smoke them.
Last time I did it, I used a Dry rub and let set overnight, then slowly cook for 2-3 hours in the BBQ with some wood chip for smooky flavor. The taste was perfect, meat well done and falling of the bone but the ribs were a little dry. I remember reading somewhere, but cant find it back, that some people spray the rib regularly during the cooking/smoking process. Something like water, cider vinegar and other liquid, put in a spray bootle, and spay a little every 15-20 minutes. At the and of cooking, of course rubs with BBQ sauce.

Anyone heard of that liquid to spray, have any receipt and success with that sort of technic?

Thanks
wawa

#2 Marlene

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:34 PM

I use a combination of bourbon, apple juice and maple syrup. both on ribs and on slow smoked pork shoulders. It seems to work well.
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#3 heidih

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:40 PM

Baby backs are generally quite lean- I do not treat them like regular pork ribs. Their cooking time is much much less. I would precook just a bit with sauce on in the oven - perhaps a half hour at 400 and then just finish with the sauce on the grill

#4 Marlene

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:56 PM

Really? I slow cook baby backs. 3 or four hours usually. In the oven at 250, on the smoker at 230 or so and on the bbq, on indirect heat at 250 then finished at a higher heat with sauce.
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#5 Slamdunkpro

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:58 PM

Hello all

I have a set of baby back ribs ready in the freezer and now that the sumer is finaly arriving I wish to grill/smoke them.
Last time I did it, I used a Dry rub and let set overnight, then slowly cook for 2-3 hours in the BBQ with some wood chip for smooky flavor. The taste was perfect, meat well done and falling of the bone but the ribs were a little dry. I remember reading somewhere, but cant find it back, that some people spray the rib regularly during the cooking/smoking process. Something like water, cider vinegar and other liquid, put in a spray bootle, and spay a little every 15-20 minutes. At the and of cooking, of course rubs with BBQ sauce.

Anyone heard of that liquid to spray, have any receipt and success with that sort of technic?

Thanks
wawa

  • Back ribs are leaner than spares so they are pretty easy to dry out
  • If your rub has a lot of salt in it it can pull moisture out of your ribs if you leave it on that long
  • If your ribs were falling off the bone they were overcooked and that contributed to the dryness
That being said, spraying the ribs will help keep the bark soft but every time you spray them your cooker has to come back up to temperature so you increase your cooking time.

#6 Norm Matthews

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:56 PM

I smoked some baby backs about a week ago @ 280º for two hours, indirect heat with hickory chunks smoking beside the lump charcoal, then wrapped in foil and cooked another hour, then finished over hot coals with some sauce being baked in. They were moist and tender but not falling off the bone. If they were then they cooked at too high a temperature for too long. That is why they tasted dry. I spray mine with apple juice and put Oklahoma Joe;s rub on then the night before.

Spare ribs take about 5-6 hours and beef back ribs take even longer. Baby backs do not take as long.

Edited by Norm Matthews, 31 May 2011 - 08:12 PM.


#7 Angela Knipple

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:57 PM

When my dad cooks ribs, he keeps the grill relatively hot to give it just enough time for the connective tissue to soften without making the meat mushy or dry. To keep it moist, he swears by a pan of diluted apple juice in the smoker. He never sprays the ribs because that does interfere with the bark.

And I have to agree with Slamdunkpro - if your rub has a lot of salt, don't leave it on long.

As far as doneness, what you're looking for is to have the meat tender enough to pull away from the bones at with only slight pressure, but you don't want it falling off them on its own.

#8 ChefCrash

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 08:05 PM

I'm finding that the rub plays a big roll in keeping my spareribs moist. The only salt in my rub is from the celery salt.

My rub:
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c onion powder
1/2 c paprika
2 T cumin
1 T celery salt
1 T black pepper

#9 mgaretz

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 11:59 PM

I put my baby backs in the slow cooker with just BBQ sauce generously slathered on top. If there's a lot then they get stacked in layers arches running opposite so they only touch each other on the edges. Then I cook them all day on low (7-10 hours). Then I carefully lift them out and finish on medium indirect heat on the BBQ. I used to cook them about 6-8 minutes on side, basting with sauce when they go on and the agin when they get turned. But recently I have been just leaving them bone side down for about 20 minutes bone side down and basting the top 3 times.

#10 Ashen

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 02:09 AM

I did some sideribs on my water bullet smoker yesterday . 2 hrs at 220-230F . I had just water in the drip pan , but I boiled it first so that it wouldn't take so long to heat up in the smoker. Dry rub just before they went on the smoker. After the two hrs I started spraying with a mop every 20 mins to half hour for approx 2 more hrs. The mop was just water and apple cider vinegar. I would normally also have apple juice as part of the mix but I didn't have any. Final doneness determined by internal temp not by timing .

Thermapen to 185 F in the thickest part of the meat between bones. This was actually about 5 degrees higher than I had wanted to go but it stayed very moist and the collagen had broken down nicely.

It really pays to get a decent thermometer so you don't over cook your meat.
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#11 BadRabbit

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 05:59 AM

For spare or St louis ribs I use 3-2-1 and for baby backs I use 2.5-1-1

The first number is hours in the smoker at 220
The second number is wrapped in foil with about 1/2 cup of apple juice or beer and smoked at 190.
The third number is back at 220 with smoke to firm them back up after what is basically a braise in step 2 (this time is varied by rib sometimes they're ready in half the time; sometimes it takes twice as long).


I have found that ribs are better judged by feel than with a thermometer (and I'm a fanatic about using a meat thermometer in other instances). Ribs are just too thin and have very different thicknesses from one end to the other. I usually just use a toothpick and put it in between bones towards the thick end. When it goes through without resistance, they are done.

If you don't care about presenting them as whole slabs, I've found I get better results cutting the slabs in half so that I can pull the smaller end first. It enables you to get more even cooking.

When I pull my ribs, I wrap them and stick them in a cooler for at least 30 minutes. This allows them to rest and evens out the cooking.


Edited to add: I also rub yellow mustard on my ribs several hours before putting them on to smoke and apply the rub on top of that. Don't worry if you're not a fan of yellow mustard. You can't really taste it in the final product.

Edited by BadRabbit, 01 June 2011 - 06:16 AM.


#12 scubadoo97

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 09:09 AM

Like BadRabbit. I employ a similar technique for spares on my smoker. The standard 3-2-1 is a little too long in my opinion. I lean more toward the times BadRabbit listed.

#13 Jaymes

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 09:42 AM

As far as doneness, what you're looking for is to have the meat tender enough to pull away from the bones at with only slight pressure, but you don't want it falling off them on its own.


Right. In fact, the KCBS instructs the judges at its cookoffs to hold up the ribs and give them a little shake to be sure that they are not "falling off the bone." If they are, they are disqualified from the competition, going on the theory that anybody can overcook meat.

They tell the judges that the meat should have enough texture that you know you're eating meat and not mush, and definitely require some pressure to come loose from the bone. If they've been perfectly smoked, the bone will turn white where you take your bite and pull the meat off it.

#14 Brown Hornet

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 09:53 AM

I think the best way to keep ribs moist is to keep them covered for most of the cooking time. My standard methodolgy is the following:

1. Apply rub to ribs night before or at least 3-4 hours before cooking.
2. Wrap in foil with a tiny amount of liquid (I like beer)
3. Cook in oven at 250 for 2-3 hours depending on size of ribs.
4. Apply bbq sauce and finish on grill or oven on higher heat until bbq sauce forms a glaze.

Ribs this way are always tender and moist, but still have just enough bite to the meat. It took me a long time to come around to abandoning the grill in favor of the oven for most of the cooking time, but once I did my ribs improved greatly. The downside is that the ribs aren't as smoky as some folks like. I generally prefer a lighter smoke taste so for me this way makes a lot of sense.

#15 BadRabbit

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:30 AM

I just realized that my instructions above weren't completely clear and it's too late to edit. Step 3 is unwrapped.

#16 Norm Matthews

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:32 AM

There are many ways to prepare any particular cut of meat but if you slather ribs with sauce and braise them in a slow cooker or seal them in foil and steam them in the oven, then finish them on the grill, you will undoubtedly produce some good tasting ribs but please do not call it barbecue.

Edited by Norm Matthews, 01 June 2011 - 10:33 AM.


#17 wawa

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 04:21 PM

Thank you all for all the reply.

With all that reading in mind, I will try something this weekend that I think will yeild something really great. Can wait to tast them!!

Later all
wawa

#18 eternal

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 05:52 PM

Of course you should cook them until you like the tenderness. Who cares what some BBQ judge thinks. If you like it falling off the bone, cook them until they are falling off the bone.

I've always braised them in the oven but I'm excited to smoke some this summer on my new, incredibly old and used, egg.

#19 Jaymes

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 09:52 PM

Who cares what some BBQ judge thinks.


Interestingly enough, a great many people, it appears.

#20 Norm Matthews

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:47 PM

The original post said this...The taste was perfect, meat well done and falling of the bone but the ribs were a little dry. Falling off the bone and a little dry are cause and effect. They were overcooked.

#21 dls

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 11:49 AM

My procedure with ribs, using a dedicated smoker, is similar to the one posted by BadRabbit:

• The rib racks are cut in half, and the rub is applied just prior to starting the smoke. I mix equal amounts of red wine vinegar and canola oil with the rub to form a paste and “paint” the ribs with it. I occasionally substitute yellow mustard for the vinegar and oil. I then place the ribs in the smoker meat side up.
• Smoke ribs @ 200F for 1 hour.
• Increase smoker temperature to 250F and smoke ribs smoke ribs for 2 hours.
• I then remove the ribs from the smoker and place them meat side down on sheets of foil. Using a bottle of Parkay squeeze margarine, I apply 3-4 thin lines of it on each rib. I then distribute a mixture made up of brown sugar, syrup, apricot preserves, hot sauce, pimenton, and garlic powder to each rib. I then close the foil and place ribs in the smoker meat side down, still @ 250F, for 1 hour.
• I remove the ribs from the smoker, apply a light coating of my favorite sauce, then place the ribs, meat side up and uncovered, in an oven pre-heated to 300F for 15 minutes. Done.

The times given are what I go by for spares. Obviously, a little less time is needed for back ribs. In either case, the times are only guidelines. Other factors come into play such as the quality and size (weight) of the rib racks, the ability of your smoker or other cooker to maintain a consistent temperature, etc. Bottom line is that you need to monitor the process, especially towards the end. Trying to get an accurate read of the meat temperature cooking multiple racks is pointless, even with a Thermapen. Just do the toothpick test. You’ll probably find that some racks need to be removed before others. Just hold them until all are done, and finish in the oven as described.

If I have my timing right, I foil, towel, and cooler the ribs for 1 hour, then serve.

As others have said, falling off the bone is overcooked.

#22 Slamdunkpro

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 12:07 PM

Right. In fact, the KCBS instructs the judges at its cookoffs to hold up the ribs and give them a little shake to be sure that they are not "falling off the bone." If they are, they are disqualified from the competition, going on the theory that anybody can overcook meat.

This is incorrect. Competitors are not disqualified for overcooking, but their scores will reflect it.

#23 Jaymes

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 01:11 PM


Right. In fact, the KCBS instructs the judges at its cookoffs to hold up the ribs and give them a little shake to be sure that they are not "falling off the bone." If they are, they are disqualified from the competition, going on the theory that anybody can overcook meat.

This is incorrect. Competitors are not disqualified for overcooking, but their scores will reflect it.


I did not say that the "competitor" would be disqualified. The competitor can continue to compete in other categories.

What I said was that if the ribs "fall off of the bone," the RIBS are disqualified from the judging. The rules specifically state that the ribs must be turned in, and eaten, "bone in."

And that is 100% correct.

#24 chileheadmike

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 01:34 PM


As far as doneness, what you're looking for is to have the meat tender enough to pull away from the bones at with only slight pressure, but you don't want it falling off them on its own.


Right. In fact, the KCBS instructs the judges at its cookoffs to hold up the ribs and give them a little shake to be sure that they are not "falling off the bone." If they are, they are disqualified from the competition, going on the theory that anybody can overcook meat.

They tell the judges that the meat should have enough texture that you know you're eating meat and not mush, and definitely require some pressure to come loose from the bone. If they've been perfectly smoked, the bone will turn white where you take your bite and pull the meat off it.


It's been a few years since I took the KCBS Judges certification, but this is news to me. We were told that "fall off the bone" ribs were overcooked and should not score high in the texture component but they were not disqualified.

A disqualification would be if there were fewer than 6 separate portions in the box, marking of the box (toothpicks, brisket rosettes etc), or cutting a pork butt into smaller portions before cooking. I'm sure there's a few more but it has been a couple years.
That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

#25 Jaymes

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 01:43 PM



As far as doneness, what you're looking for is to have the meat tender enough to pull away from the bones at with only slight pressure, but you don't want it falling off them on its own.


Right. In fact, the KCBS instructs the judges at its cookoffs to hold up the ribs and give them a little shake to be sure that they are not "falling off the bone." If they are, they are disqualified from the competition, going on the theory that anybody can overcook meat.

They tell the judges that the meat should have enough texture that you know you're eating meat and not mush, and definitely require some pressure to come loose from the bone. If they've been perfectly smoked, the bone will turn white where you take your bite and pull the meat off it.


It's been a few years since I took the KCBS Judges certification, but this is news to me. We were told that "fall off the bone" ribs were overcooked and should not score high in the texture component but they were not disqualified.

A disqualification would be if there were fewer than 6 separate portions in the box, marking of the box (toothpicks, brisket rosettes etc), or cutting a pork butt into smaller portions before cooking. I'm sure there's a few more but it has been a couple years.


Well, I suppose there is always going to be individual interpretation, but it's only been one year since I took the KCBS judges certification, and we were told that pretty specifically.

In fact, I'm sure when you took the class, they brought in sample boxes to judge. One of the ones they brought to us did have the ribs falling off of the bone. They looked fine in the box, but when you picked them up, you couldn't keep the bone attached to the meat. That box was specifically prepared that way in order to demonstrate to us that that particular box of ribs would be disqualified, and not judged.

I don't know if things have changed since you took the certification class, or if individual instructors interpret the rules differently.

But when I took that class, they were very definite about it. And, as I say, even prepared one of the sample boxes to be sure we understood.

#26 chileheadmike

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 01:49 PM

Rules change.
I think I took the course in 2004.
Fall off the bone ribs would not have won anything but they would not have been disqualified.

BTW Mrs CHM likes 'em fall off the bone. I usually overcook a rack for her.
That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

#27 Jaymes

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 01:51 PM

Rules change.
I think I took the course in 2004.
Fall off the bone ribs would not have won anything but they would not have been disqualified.

BTW Mrs CHM likes 'em fall off the bone. I usually overcook a rack for her.


There's a barbecue joint in Austin that advertises: "Need no teef to eat my beef" (and an appropriate accompanying logo). So I guess there's something for everyone.

:smile:

Edited by Jaymes, 02 June 2011 - 01:56 PM.


#28 Zeemanb

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 01:58 PM

This is the only Rib-specific information I could find from the 2011 KCBS Rules-

"PORK RIBS: Ribs shall include the bone. Country style ribs are
prohibited."


"Ribs shall be turned in bone‐in. Judges may not cut,
slice, or shake apart to separate pieces. If there is not
enough meat for each judge to sample, the shorted
judge(s) will score a one (1) on all criteria, and the judges
having samples will change the Appearance score to one(1)."

Sounds like if the meat falls off the bone that they would be disqualified because they don't "include the bone", but shaking them to see if the meat falls off wouldn't make sense at all because then you get into how hard do you shake it...does it ALL fall off....etc., etc. Either you pick up a rib and the meat stays on, or it doesn't....thus the importance of completely separate pieces for each judge. After that, if all the meat falls off onto your shirt as you try to take the first bite....it does not bode well for the competitor, but the ribs were presented bone-in.

Edited to add: Forgot to mention how I hate cooking for judges...total crapshoot, but it seems that we always did better when we presented them with food we'd never eat ourselves or serve to our guests. Specifically, the addition of some super sweet sauce...

Edited by Zeemanb, 02 June 2011 - 02:09 PM.


#29 Slamdunkpro

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 03:15 PM

Right. In fact, the KCBS instructs the judges at its cookoffs to hold up the ribs and give them a little shake to be sure that they are not "falling off the bone." If they are, they are disqualified from the competition, going on the theory that anybody can overcook meat.............

Well, I suppose there is always going to be individual interpretation, but it's only been one year since I took the KCBS judges certification, and we were told that pretty specifically.

In fact, I'm sure when you took the class, they brought in sample boxes to judge. One of the ones they brought to us did have the ribs falling off of the bone. They looked fine in the box, but when you picked them up, you couldn't keep the bone attached to the meat. That box was specifically prepared that way in order to demonstrate to us that that particular box of ribs would be disqualified, and not judged.

I don't know if things have changed since you took the certification class, or if individual instructors interpret the rules differently.

But when I took that class, they were very definite about it. And, as I say, even prepared one of the sample boxes to be sure we understood.


I'd really like to know who from KCBS taught that class (feel free to PM) as this is totally incorrect. According to the class instructor's guides from 2009, 2010 & 2011 judge candidates are supposed to be specifically instructed NOT to shake samples or try to dislodge meat. Presented on the bone means that it's on the bone when presented in the turn in box.

Enough KCBS competition hijacking of this thread.

#30 Clark D

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 03:30 PM

Is there really a whole lot of teams turning in ribs falling off the bone? Maybe I'd be surprised but you almost have to try to over cook them that much! From a teams perspective we've honestly never given it any thought.

For comps we cook loin back ribs but they are huge, about 2.5 pounds a rack. I cook them really low, around 200 for about 3 hours (just looking for the proper color), foil for a couple with some liquid (checking every 15 minutes after an hour to make sure they are not over cooking) and then back on the cooker for about half an hour with a glaze just for the glaze to set. We usually do well with that.

These are comp ribs from last year that we managed to take first place with.
Posted Image

At home it totally depends on the size of ribs I'm cooking as for time and temps. For nice lean back ribs I cook them fairly hot around 350 sometimes even on the rotiss and just check frequently to see how a probe goes in to check for done (carefuly with sugar in your rubs if you're going hot though). I usually don't foil at home. For spares I never go above 300 degrees and sometimes lower, just depends how much of a hurry I'm in. I usually foil them, even at home just because I don't like the bark looking too dark. Just my preference. I never mop or spray at home or comps.

I think the main thing is don't plan too much on time, just check frequently for tenderness and the color you want, whether that is a light color or strong bark. It's whatever you like. Just don't do it by time. Different racks always cook up differently.

Clark

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