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 Smoking ribs

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  • Total Posts: 2
  • Joined: 3/21/2004
  • Location: Rochester, NY
Smoking ribs Sun, 03/21/04 5:52 PM (permalink)
We bought a smoker with a separate fire box and did ribs... we used a rub and a mop sauce. We were out getting hickory to use so we started the fire with large pieces of oak.. this burned poorly and smoldered more than smoked for aprox. an hour. We then added smaller pieces of hickory and the fire/smoking seemed to do better. At that point we were able to maintain temps 225-275°. The entire smoking time was about 5 hours... we then tested the ribs and they tasted too smokey and pungent... not very good. We decided to finish them in the oven b/c we thought there may be too much smoke. I did some reading here and I learned that you can't get "too much smoke". So.. any ideas of what we did wrong and how to prevent this the next time?? I read something about blue vs white smoke... was this my problem? Thanks.

    • Total Posts: 396
    • Joined: 7/26/2002
    • Location: Westport, CT
    RE: Smoking ribs Sun, 03/21/04 6:31 PM (permalink)
    Ernie -- In my recent smoking experience, I've learned that there can be too much smoke. I typically use apple wood or hickory, but definitely let the the smoking wood burn well down before the meat goes in the cooker (I use a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker). For 6 racks of baby backs I typically use 3 fist sized chunks in the beginning and no other wood throughout the smoke. None of these chunks have any visible uncharred wood when I assemble the smoker and add the meat...

    Smoke is a lot like garlic -- I think a lot of people would be happy learning that moderation is the key to balanced flavor.

      • Total Posts: 128
      • Joined: 3/12/2003
      • Location: Ft. Wayne, IN
      RE: Smoking ribs Sun, 03/21/04 7:31 PM (permalink)
      I think your problem was trying to use wood as the heat. The smoker you bought is made to burn charcoal for the heat and to use wood chunks. That is UNLESS you paid more than a $1,000 for it.

      The fireboxes in those units are much too small to support burning logs. They also will not burn very clean because of some design flaws.

      And yes...there is absolutely such a thing as too much smoke.

      Here is a list of modifications you can make so the smoker works better. OR, you can do what many of us do..go out and buy a great little smoker called the Weber Smoky Mountain.


      Smoker Mods are the simple mods you can make to most "cheap" off-sets.......

      Your exhaust vent needs to be extended down to the grate is currently fixed at the top of the unit. This can be done easily with some aluminum flashing....just roll it up and shove it up into the exhaust pipe and make sure it comes all the way down to the grate. It makes opening the top a little more difficult on some models, but you need this to be done.

      Why??? Heat will follow the path to the nearest exhaust opening. In this case it goes directly from your firebox, thru the opening and directly up to the top of the unit. Thereby passing OVER your meat. The temp difference between the grate and the top of the unit can be 100º! By getting that exhaust opening at the grate....the heat will now flow horizontally to the far end of your cooking chamber.

      Check the opening between your firebox and cooking chamber. Look to see where it is located in reference to the it above the grate or half way above or below. Here again, your hot air will come blasting out of that opening and go directly thru your meat over to the now extended exhaust. That means it will be very hot at that opening. A simple solution is to put a large pan of water right at that opening. This will deflect much of the heat and will tone down that hot spot.

      A surer fix is to attach a "baffle plate" to the top of the opening and bend it downwards so it deflects the heat UNDERNEATH the grate. No welding required but you would have to drill a couple of holes and simply use nuts and bolts to attach. The thicker the metal the better the baffle.

      The firebox also leaves a lot to be desired. I have seen charcoal baskets that help to keep the charcoal all in one place and allow for some air circulation. Folks using these claim much longer burn times and much easier temp controls. Why?? Once your charcoal starts to burn down, the live coals get smothered and choked out by the ash. By allowing air flow, your temps will stay where you need them and are much easier to control because of the added air.
      Here is a link to charcoal baskets and also pics and further explanation of the mods for some specific cookers...........

      Once at this site, at the top of the page are 2 links....Smoker Mods and Charcoal. That is where you will find the info.


        • Total Posts: 388
        • Joined: 3/8/2004
        • Location: Powhatan, VA
        RE: Smoking ribs Mon, 03/22/04 8:28 AM (permalink)
        I agree that you can have "too much smoke." I have a homemade smoker (from a 275 gal oil tank) with an offset fire box. Preparation is important. Start the fire in the firebox with charcoal and gradually add wood, oak is ok. Keep doing this until you have a nice amount of burned down coals. This could take hours, depending on how big your cooker is, weather,etc. The important thing is to have a good bed of coals. Then, while monitoring the temp (around 250 degrees F.) place the meat on the grill. Add small amounts of hickory and oak or fruitwood periodically to control your smoke. You might have to add small amounts of charcoal(pre-started before adding to the firebox) occasionally to help control the temp without over smoking. It takes practice and experience, but you'll get it. Keep a good supply of your favorite beverage closeby, and invite friends to come around and visit, and you'll be fine.

          • Total Posts: 2
          • Joined: 3/21/2004
          • Location: Rochester, NY
          RE: Smoking ribs Fri, 03/26/04 7:35 PM (permalink)
          Thanks for all the info.. it's very helpful. We're planning to give it a go again in the next week or so and I'll be sure to rreport back.

            • Total Posts: 24
            • Joined: 6/13/2004
            • Location: Locke, NY
            RE: Smoking ribs Fri, 06/18/04 11:33 PM (permalink)
            Emie, Ive had the same problems. Ill agree ( in my opinion ) with all the above. I too have a good small smoker w/firebox, aprox size 55gal drum. Charcoal will give you a more controlled heat with a lower temp. Using wood chips will give you a less smokey, but good flavor. Such as yourself, wood is also ready available to me and so its much cheeper, I use it. Where I live a 20lb bag of charcoal is 5-7 bucks. Ill use 1/2 the bag on ribs. So at the end of the summer, I would use a %#@$ load!!! My answer, wood is so much cheeper. If I don't cut it myself, 1/2 a face cord is around 35 bucks,and will last me for almost a year of non stop bbqing. Now your answer, try wrapping your BBQ in foil after you smoke it a few hours, this will prevent the meat from becoming too overly smokey. Some might say this is cheating. Good "Q" that makes you take your hat off, is not cheating!!! Also try putting in your favorite BBQ sauce in the wrap, even if you got it from the store or spent hours making it yourself! If you favor the flavor of your mop sauce, try that in your wrap. Just remember that if your mop has a vinegar base to it, you will get a strong vinegar flavor out of your mop, so dont over do it. Any meat ( in my opinion ) will hold the vinegar, If you over do it.

              • Total Posts: 2
              • Joined: 6/19/2004
              • Location: Hamilton, IA
              RE: Smoking ribs Sat, 06/19/04 3:25 PM (permalink)
              I have a Brinkman smoker and my little routine that I follow every time.
              First - I made a chiminey to pre heat my charcoal.
              When my charcoal is red hot and a flame is shooting out the top of the chiminey I dump the coals into the smoker. neatly pile them around the outside of the bowl and place my water soaked mesquite or hickory chips in the middle in a big pile. Smokes for about 2 hours or more at a nice high temp. ... then I repeat if needed based on the size and type of meat in the smoker. My meat allways comes out delicious and never too smokey or not smokey enough... just right. Allways juicy and tender. Far as the sauce is concerned... I have tried a few but find if I mix my own sauces and add some chopped garlic and honey to the mix it gives it that little edge you just can't quite put your finger on. Happy Smokin javascript:insertsmilie('')
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