First smoke...not so good

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First smoke...not so good

Post  jenks_24 on Sun Jul 13, 2008 4:51 pm

I thought I'd tell you about my first attempt at using the frontier.

Didn't turn out so good I'm afraid. The meat was well smoked, but dry and thin for my tastes. I thought I'd try a rack of spare ribs to break it in. First I let it run without the meat and water pan for an hour or so. I then put in the water pan (w/water) and the meat and let her rip.

I didn't fill the charcoal grate to the top, just enough (I thought) to cook one rack of ribs. I put about 40 Kingsford briquettes in the unit, lit another 15 in the chimney starter and placed it in the basket after the fire started showing in the top of the chimney. I then placed a few chunks of mesquite among the coals, making sure they touched some hot charcoal to start the smoking process.

One thing I found was the fire started to die after and hour and a half and had to add a few more to keep it going. The temp hovered around 220 for a while and started to drop again (not a windy day). I took the stackers and top off, stirred the charcoal and put everything back together again, also basting with apple juice at this time.

To make a long short, I had to monitor the temp, add a few more charcoal now and then and on top of that, the ribs came out looking wonderful, but were very dry and thin.

Any suggestions?

Jenx
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  Dr_KY on Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:19 pm

That all sounds very strange to me.

How long did you cook the ribs?
How often did you open the smoker?
Spare ribs don't have much meat on them, did you foil?
Did you add cold water?
How much fuel did you put in the basket?
What settings did you have the vents at?
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  Novice on Mon Jul 14, 2008 8:21 am

Don't give up Jenx, I got my Frontier a couple of months ago & had exactly the same problem. If you go to the new section area & look at the post titled 'Maverick ET-37 Dual Probe Thermometer' you can look at the same discussion we are now having. I had two main problems,
1, I had calibrated the lid thermometer, but not very well, so I was cooking at to higher temp,
2, (Most importantly) I used the 321 method usually used for spare ribs, & I was cooking baby back ribs, these need much less time.
I also usually get the coals going, then after about 1 & 1/2 hrs add another chimney full, it will then run for about 8 hrs without adding any more, just monitor the temp & make small adjustments to the lower vent. (But I am new to this, so maybe this is a case of the blind leading the blind?)
I have since done several cooks on it that have all worked out fantastically, & if I can manage it anyone can!

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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  jenks_24 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:30 pm

Dr_KY wrote:That all sounds very strange to me.

How long did you cook the ribs?
How often did you open the smoker?
Spare ribs don't have much meat on them, did you foil?
Did you add cold water?
How much fuel did you put in the basket?
What settings did you have the vents at?

Well:

I cooked for about 5 hours, basting with apple juice at the 2 hour mark. I did have to add more coal around the 1 1/2 hr hour mark

I didn't open the smoker, just to baste and to turn the ribs 180 deg. I could see the ribs through the vent on the top

I did not foil, but I'm used to thick spare ribs in the states, I gotta find some over here in Germany

I did add cold water at the beginning; I'm think that had something to do with it

I put about enough fuel to cover the botton of the basket, plus just a little more and two chunks of mesquite.

I had the vents at 100%, especially since I couldn't maintain a temp of 225-250.

I did adjust the temp gauge after the cook though. I found I was running below the correct temp. Maybe I turned my ribs into jerky? I saw a lot of pics out here for smoking ribs and didn't see foil usage. Could that also be an issue? I'll go to the local Metz-Go (sp?) and see if they can provide some thicker ribs. I will try again this weekend. I invited a friend over and I gotta get this right! affraid

Jenx
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  Dr_KY on Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:28 pm

jenks_24 wrote:

Well:

I cooked for about 5 hours, basting with apple juice at the 2 hour mark. I did have to add more coal around the 1 1/2 hr hour mark

I didn't open the smoker, just to baste and to turn the ribs 180 deg. I could see the ribs through the vent on the top

I did not foil, but I'm used to thick spare ribs in the states, I gotta find some over here in Germany

I did add cold water at the beginning; I'm think that had something to do with it

I put about enough fuel to cover the botton of the basket, plus just a little more and two chunks of mesquite.

I had the vents at 100%, especially since I couldn't maintain a temp of 225-250.

I did adjust the temp gauge after the cook though. I found I was running below the correct temp. Maybe I turned my ribs into jerky? I saw a lot of pics out here for smoking ribs and didn't see foil usage. Could that also be an issue? I'll go to the local Metz-Go (sp?) and see if they can provide some thicker ribs. I will try again this weekend. I invited a friend over and I gotta get this right! affraid

Jenx

I haven't actuallt seen how much fuel was in there but I would say start with more raw fuel and actually fill the bashket about half way and use the minion method. It's better to start with warm water so it comes up to temp faster, when adding more water through the cook make sure it's hot too.

I like to foil my ribs after about two hours with a bit off beer or apple juice and return them to the cooker all sealed up. Remove them from the foil for the end of the cook and sauce them just before serving.

I don't bother to turn the ribs during a cook at they will be oved around enough when foiling ect.

You can do this just keep at it. Very Happy
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  jenks_24 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 8:44 pm

Thanks Novice and K Y,

I think I get what you're saying. I really need to start with enough charcoal, foil during the cook and baste at the end. I know my family used to foil back home, but didn't see it out here, so thought I'd try the no-foil method. We used to foil for a while and when it's tender and about done, remove the foil, baste and let the sauce thicken on the ribs. I'm sure to have a better result than the last time, but I'll keep an eye out for any suggestions that will make this next smoke fantastic!

Wow, I feel like I'm in school again. Thanks guys for "schooling the newbie"!

Jenx
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  Novice on Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:26 pm

If they were thinner than you are used to, it may be they were baby back ribs, rather than spare ribs. This was my biggest mistake, & it sounds like you had the same result as I got.

Baby backs are fantastic but need less time.

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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  Mack on Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:19 am

Hi Jenks,
All good advice from the guys and just wanted to add my 2 cents...
Use hot water in the water pan, this will get the unit up to temperature a lot quicker, I use this method here, hasn't failed me yet http://www.probbq.co.uk/Pork.html
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  jenks_24 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 5:57 pm

Novice wrote:If they were thinner than you are used to, it may be they were baby back ribs, rather than spare ribs. This was my biggest mistake, & it sounds like you had the same result as I got.

Baby backs are fantastic but need less time.

The package said spare ribs. You should see the baby backs over here, they look like toothpicks with a little meat on them. I think the local german butcher may have what I'm looking for. At least I can tell you that the cook scheduled for this weekend has changed a bit. We have to work this friday and my friend is also house hunting. I will cook him and his girfriend some ribs and just have them pick it up. Wish me luck!

Jenx
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  jenks_24 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:01 pm

Mack wrote:Hi Jenks,
All good advice from the guys and just wanted to add my 2 cents...
Use hot water in the water pan, this will get the unit up to temperature a lot quicker, I use this method here, hasn't failed me yet http://www.probbq.co.uk/Pork.html

Looks like everyone is in agreement. Foil is the way to go for ribs. How do the big guys do it in the restaurants? Never seen it there. What's the difference?

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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  jenks_24 on Thu Jul 17, 2008 9:00 pm

Hello all,

Went to the local butcher and found some wonderful ribs! They are thick and meaty and just what I'm looking for. I want to try them out this weekend and use all the knowledge I've accumulated from you guys. Foil foil foil, I'll do my best. I wish I had a decent camera to show you all a few picks. At least I can tell you how they looked and tasted. I'll let you know how they turn out. Any more suggestions before the cook? I'm still trying to find apple wood though. I just may have to stick with mesquite.

Jenx
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  gandalf on Fri Jul 18, 2008 7:58 pm

jenks_24 wrote:Hello all,

Went to the local butcher and found some wonderful ribs! They are thick and meaty and just what I'm looking for. I want to try them out this weekend and use all the knowledge I've accumulated from you guys. Foil foil foil, I'll do my best. I wish I had a decent camera to show you all a few picks. At least I can tell you how they looked and tasted. I'll let you know how they turn out. Any more suggestions before the cook? I'm still trying to find apple wood though. I just may have to stick with mesquite.

Jenx

I cook unfoiled for 3 hours, spraying with apple juice every now and then, then foil with sauce for 3 hours, then I unfoil and baste with the juice/sauce from inside the foil and blast them on the grill above the coals for a short while to char the outside a little. Seems to work for me Very Happy
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  jenks_24 on Sat Jul 19, 2008 10:14 am

Thanks gandalf,

I think I have a plan under way. The ribs are thawing now. Once completely thawed, I'll apply a local rub, wrap them up and put them back in the fridge for 24 hrs. I should start this cook around this time tomorrow. Has anyone REALLY noticed a huge difference when adding items to the water pan during the cook? Does it make a difference? Question

Jenx
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  Mack on Sat Jul 19, 2008 11:54 am

It gives off a nice aroma when you add stuff to the water, such as herbs, but I haven't noticed any difference to the taste.
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  Dr_KY on Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:25 pm

We need pictures.
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  ILBBQS.com on Sat Jul 19, 2008 4:15 pm

Dr_KY wrote:We need pictures.
Nothing like good ol' fashioned food porn on the computer! Laughing Laughing
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  Dr_KY on Sat Jul 19, 2008 4:18 pm

Ya man it has to be done. Cool
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Re: First smoke...not so good

Post  gandalf on Sat Jul 19, 2008 7:49 pm

jenks_24 wrote:Thanks gandalf,

I think I have a plan under way. The ribs are thawing now. Once completely thawed, I'll apply a local rub, wrap them up and put them back in the fridge for 24 hrs. I should start this cook around this time tomorrow. Has anyone REALLY noticed a huge difference when adding items to the water pan during the cook? Does it make a difference? Question

Jenx

I add water to the waterpan, that makes a difference Very Happy
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