Sunday, November 30, 2008

Surprise Smoked Ribs

I was at a new meat shop today buying some pork loin.  The loin is an unusual order here, so I special order it.  The shop knows that I love ribs ... and they had ribs ... and they dangled them under my nose.

What's a guy to do?  Yup ... buy them all.  It was only about 3 kilos of ribs.  Enough for the small contingent of the Primary Test Team (three people plus me right now) who are at the house tonight.

I'm a relative neophyte when it comes to smoking meats. So, in all honesty, I did something just wrong. The meat was good, we ate it all ... just not as good as I want.  I want to do better.

I want people to think that they're dreaming when they eat my food.  Is that too much to ask?

  • 3 kilograms pork ribs
  • salt
  • BBQ sauce

I prepped my little smoker.  It's a small stainless steel unit that uses LPG (propane) to heat up wood chips and keep the insides nice and toasty.  Lots of scrubbing yielded something in which I'd cook and eat the results.

I washed and laid the ribs out on my cutting board.  As usual, I have to cut the spinal bones off of the top of the ribs.  Lots of meat everywhere.  These were cut well.  Perhaps this meat shop likes me.  I keep buying all their ribs (I learned the word lahat (all, in Tagalog) just to make my life easier when ordering).

I didn't brine or marinade the meat.  I didn't even use a rub.  I just sprinkled the meat with some ordinary table salt and let it sit for 20 minutes.

To smoke I used dried bagul (coconut shells). I recently joined a BBQ and smoking forum and some of the experts there recommended I try this.  I'm glad that I did!  More on that later ...

Into my little smoker with the delicious meat.  It's so fresh and pink right now.  Little does it know that it's going to spend hours getting dark and lovely.

Here's the meat after about two hours of smoking.  The internal temperature is up to about 140F (60C) right now.  My target was 165F (75C).  I still must wait ...

The little wire you see is my probe thermometer.  The wire was a stainless steel mesh sheathing that lets it go into high-temperature environments.  Like stoves and smokers.

Here's the meat as I begin to brush it with my BBQ sauce.  I started doing this about four hours into the process ... when the meat hit an internal temperature of 155F (70C).  Every fifteen minutes after this, I brushed the meat with more BBQ sauce.

Finally, the meat hit 165F (70C) internal temperature.  It was ready to come out.

I let the ribs rest for ten minutes to let the juices redistribute.  Then, finally ...

Yum, time to eat!

Test Results

Only a few testers.  The ribs were devoured.  The ribs were good, but not great.  Flavor was good, smoke definitely added to it.  The color was fantastic.  But, the texture was just wrong.  The meat was too chewy.

Potential Improvements

These weren't fall-off-the-bone.  That was definitely a disappointment for me.  I did some reasearch and asked some experts and found out that I'd smoked it completely wrong.


Ribs are nearly a no-fail proposition.  Hard to go wrong with them.

Smoking the ribs was definitely better than cooking them in the oven.  The smoke flavor brings them to a new level of tasty goodness.

Pork ribs are such fabulous meat, it deserves to be cooked well.  I need to keep practicing.  Need to make and consume many, many more racks of ribs before I'm truly happy with the results.

So far to go ... and I haven't even tried using a rub yet!


carlosceldran said...

Marinate the ribs in yoghurt overnight? that's what I usually do when i don't want chewy meat...

James said...

Thanks for dropping by, Carlos.

I'm told by my current favorite meat shop that they'll have four kilos of ribs for me bukas na aga (tomorrow morning). Can't wait! I have a new method to use which I'm told is going to produce amazing ribs.

I'll post more after I get the results.