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Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 8:29 am
by Fraze
Hi all,

I'd need some advice on cooking American style ribs. Apologies for the lengthy post, but I just wanted to lay out the details. I recently purchased a Kamado Joe and I'm having a consistent problem with baby back ribs being too chewy/tough and slightly dry. I've managed to get the flavour almost spot on after working on a dry rub and sauce for a while, but its frustrating that the meat isn't turning out ideal.

Details:
Kamado Joe (large)
Ceramic heat deflector + elevator (smoke kings)
foil pan with water (for moisture) sitting on heat deflector
Rib rack.
Combination of Smoke Kings gidgee charcoal and Barbeques Galore charcoal
2 small to medium sized hickory chunks

Baby back cut pork ribs from Oxley Butcher - best I've found so far in Brisbane but quality varies.
Remove membrane
Rub in homemade brown sugar base Texas style dry rub.
Sometimes applying American mustard and olive oil before dry rub to prevent the sugar and salt from sucking the moisture out of the ribs. Haven't observed a significant difference in tenderness.

Cooking:
30mins heating up Kamado to a stable temp (~100°C)
1) Tried smoking between 95°C to 125°C for around 1.5 to 2.5 hrs
2) Then wrapping and sealing in aluminium foil with either 2-5 table spoons apple juice
OR without juice and just a layer of BBQ sauce cooking for another 1.5 to 2 hrs at 95°C to 125°C
3) Removing foil then glazing with BBQ sauce for 15 to 30 mins at 95°C to 125°C

Bottom vent almost closed and top vent cracked slightly or sometimes closed. I tried closing the top vent when the ribs were unwrapped to hold moisture in.
Ribs seem already dry before wrapping in foil, and adding more apple juice in the foil shrank the meat down and made it even tougher for some reason. Perhaps too much liquid created an overly hot environment in the foil.

Fair few variables I know but trying all these seems to end in the same chewy ribs.
My thoughts on why the ribs aren't moist:
Too much dry rub sucking the moisture out of the ribs. Although applying mustard/olive oil prior to rub should prevent this.
Smoking the ribs to hot and/or too long.
Need to cook lower temp and longer in foil.
Meat quality too tough.

I understand everyone has different methods and tastes, but It would be good to get some advice in case I'm missing something.
And for anyone in Brisbane, I'd like to hear about where others source their pork ribs from.

Cheers,

Fraze

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:06 am
by bbqmad
Fraze,

Sounds like you have it almost down pat, except for a couple of things;

(1) Rip membrane of ribs - smoke will get into meat and tenderise more

(2) un-covered and smoking try 3 x hrs

(3) Try some apple cider vinegar either sprayed on or pour some in your foil

(4) MOST IMPORTANT THING......its not about time its about when their ready the pull test is best you will get a feel for when there ready.

And heck some times the meat is just tough and never going to be tender, i have all but given up on pork ribs a long time ago if i find some good ones...next time i go back their all bones :shock: ..... yes i could go and buy a big lump of pig and bone my own out some might say, in between running my own buissness, re-locating b'ness, exercise, bbqing, maintaining acreage......er.....No...if butchers wont sell the right cuts..i move on...better value Fraze are....its a seceret but begin with B :)

Glen

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:17 am
by Smokey
Agree with Glen, particularly regarding moving on to value cuts that dont let you down.

Try spritzing with a mix of apple juice and apple vinagar every half hour.
and maybe a larger water pan.
It sounds like its running too dry

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:43 pm
by Fraze
Thanks Glen, Mick,

I forgot to mention that I rip the membrane off in the preparation details, although sometimes its difficult to remove cleanly.

I'll try focusing on the meat rather than time. Simple yet, good advice.
The apple cider vinegar sounds good. I have heard vinegar helps break down meat when cooking.
Other than that, its sounding like its more the meat quality.
I might move on to pulled pork!

Cheers guys

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:55 pm
by Shane_H
have you tried brining?

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:00 pm
by LA1
There are very few places you can get good pork ribs. There are number of reasons that all conspire against the pig rib here in Oz. From what I understand, smaller leaner pigs, loin being used for bacon and belly prices and yield etc have all combined. The answer is hand cut, Costco and a few producers/retailers.

My preferred option, which I learnt from UrbanGriller on this forum, is the Pork Forequarter short rib, also know as Pork Riblet. They are smaller, but really meaty and about 5-$8 per kilo. Ask your butcher to get some in.

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:06 pm
by Fraze
Shane_H wrote:have you tried brining?
I haven't tried brining Shane, but sounds like it might be worth a try. I read you can add root beer to the brine as well.
LA1 wrote:Pork Forequarter short rib, also know as Pork Riblet
Cheers LA1, I'll ask some of the butchers around my area and see what they can get in.

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:09 pm
by urbangriller
LA1 wrote:There are very few places you can get good pork ribs. There are number of reasons that all conspire against the pig rib here in Oz. From what I understand, smaller leaner pigs, loin being used for bacon and belly prices and yield etc have all combined. The answer is hand cut, Costco and a few producers/retailers.

My preferred option, which I learnt from UrbanGriller on this forum, is the Pork Forequarter short rib, also know as Pork Riblet. They are smaller, but really meaty and about 5-$8 per kilo. Ask your butcher to get some in.
Yep, unless you need the presentation, go the forequarter short rib every time! :D

Chris

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:21 pm
by LA1
Chris, I found it best to trim the end...that pointy boney/cartilidge bit that attaches to the ribs, and in turn makes them more presentable. Changes the shape from a triangle to more of a rectangle, so just looks like a smaller version of a full set of ribs but with heaps of meat. With that cartilidge removed, also easily allows you slice into 4 single ribs.

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 7:50 pm
by Green Nigel
I've always been pleased with the results that I've obtained using the 3-2-1 method.

There's plenty of info on the net about this method, here's just one of many sites explaining the different stages.

http://bbq.about.com/od/ribs/a/aa122306a.htm

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 8:34 pm
by urbangriller
Nigel....god damn brother...long time between drinks! :D

Chris

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:42 am
by Fraze
Thanks for the input everyone. Looks like I've got a few different methods to try.
Main thing I will do is source ribs from different butchers and see how they come up in single cooks.

Cheers,

Fraze

Re: Need advice - Pork ribs turning out too tough/chewy

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:12 am
by Dougt
Cooked some ribs last night for the first time on the Kamado (big red). Turned out as moist as could get after smoking for 2.5 hours (small rack), foiled for 1.5 hours with apple juice, then sauced up for 35 minutes.... Falling off the bone. Pulled them off the bone clean....

Same setup as mentioned in the first post however i didnt even bother with the water in the drip pan. Only had the drip pan in for less cleaning of the heat deflector... Always remove the mebrane from the bottom before cooking.

I didnt get pics as they were eaten too quickly.