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View Full Version : First Cook on the MAK 2 Star General - St. Louis Ribs



ht01us
01-30-2011, 09:16 PM
The weather was beautiful this weekend; a great time for the inaugural cook on my new Mak 2 Star General smoker. I set up 3 racks of St. Louis cut ribs which I bought at Cash and Carry; I also did 8 brats from New Seasons of various styles. I normally do baby back ribs but thought I'd try the meatier St. Louis cut this time.

Saturday afternoon

The cooker needed to be "seasoned" which I think really means burning off all the machine oil from manufacturing. So, I loaded in some pellets; turned it to high and let er' rip about 45 minutes.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_uD_n7-LmgzQ/TUYijXJ9zzI/AAAAAAAAAjM/NemDGhhvVMQ/s1600/P1000689.JPG

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_uD_n7-LmgzQ/TUYilQIxjFI/AAAAAAAAAjQ/oAJzfErGp0M/s1600/P1000692.JPG

While that is going on, I bust out the ribs and apply some Meathead's Memphis Dust
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_uD_n7-LmgzQ/TUYinartcUI/AAAAAAAAAjU/mCg_1yVUuC4/s1600/P1000696.JPG

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_uD_n7-LmgzQ/TUYio0DFH5I/AAAAAAAAAjY/npdLNGdqVJQ/s1600/P1000700.jpg

Sunday after church and swimming, I load the hopper with apple pellets and set it to 225 degrees. Once it gets up to temp, on go the ribs
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_uD_n7-LmgzQ/TUYiqiwzHNI/AAAAAAAAAjc/IvF-u9HozjU/s1600/P1000708.JPG

I let them go for 3 hours. It's a great change from working with the Weber kettle grill with the Smokenator where I had to constantly monitor temps, add water, sweep ashes and so on. While they were smoking, I made my barbecue sauce. This is a smoker board, not a cooking board. If you are interested in the sauce, you can check out my blog entry (http://8in12.blogspot.com/2011/01/first-cook-on-new-smoker.html) (hope this isn't breaking a rule)


After 2 hours, I added 8 brats of various flavors on the bottom grill to one side. After they cooked for a bit I moved them to the upper grill. I didn't start them on the upper grill because I was worried about raw pork juice dripping down.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_uD_n7-LmgzQ/TUYi59mJ6SI/AAAAAAAAAj8/rvtfugEMpaA/s1600/P1000727.JPG

After 3 hours, I wrapped in foil with apple juice for 40 minutes. Then out of the foil and back on the grill for 40 more minutes. While they finished, I heated up the gas grill to high. I transferred the ribs there, painted both sides with my barbecue sauce, and sizzled them.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_uD_n7-LmgzQ/TUYi86KKSqI/AAAAAAAAAkA/JdCQD6c2JOI/s1600/P1000734.JPG

Cut them up; this picture doesn't do the smoke ring justice. I was pretty happy with the looks
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_uD_n7-LmgzQ/TUYrNEw9EcI/AAAAAAAAAkQ/0b6FV9EUmfg/s1600/P1000737.JPG

Dinner is served
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_uD_n7-LmgzQ/TUYjAKKRU0I/AAAAAAAAAkI/JKLkxpWPins/s1600/P1000738.jpg

Summary
They were easy to make, but they weren't my best ribs ever. They had a nice mild smoke flavor, but were a little tough and didn't have a rich meaty pork flavor. The smallest rack was the best leading me to think that they should have cooked longer. But that's part of the fun; figuring out what works and what needs work. I'm looking forward to some feedback.

Big Poppa
01-30-2011, 09:53 PM
Im not sure about the foiled deflector plate...I think it affects the heat...SCooter and Jim know this pretty well

ht01us
01-30-2011, 10:11 PM
Im not sure about the foiled deflector plate...I think it affects the heat...SCooter and Jim know this pretty well
Glad you noticed that; I meant to mention it. It certainly made cleanup a breeze. But I'll take good eats over easy cleanup. I expected some temp swings; I set it at 225 and upped it to 230 for a bit with the foil. The grill readout ranged from 215 to 240 but was mostly in the 220 to 230 range.

I had a Maverick smoke probe in there as well; it ran about 20 to 25 degrees hotter than the grill readout; it was right up front just a little left of center ( you can probably see it in the picture). I had checked it last summer and it was pretty accurate.

So, any ideas, I'd love to hear.

jimsbarbecue
01-31-2011, 07:55 AM
If you are foiling the drip pan. Only use 18 inch foil. One piece down the center. It will go up the sides a little without going over the top. This will keep the foil close to the pan so no air space is created, which is insulation. Most of the time I don't use foil.

CarterQ
01-31-2011, 08:51 AM
Great looking grill and even better looking first cook! I tried the foil route when I first got my MAK and it definitely seemed to interfere with the performance of the grill, especially when working at higher temps.

Think of your drip pan like a cast iron skillet, once it gets seasoned it becomes extremely easy to clean. You would never be able to tell mine is stainless by looking at it! I just take a scraper and welding brush to it every few weeks and it cleans up quickly, usually less than 10 minutes.

Big Poppa
01-31-2011, 09:14 AM
Ht Try the biscuit test on your grill Search for it here...It is basically referigerated biscuits placed an the grill ()on frogmats if you have them)
This is the best way to know your grills heat pattern. Where you have yours is usually a hot spot. Put it near the make thermocouple or towards the center where the meat is being cooked.

I find that monitoring the temp with an external source on a MAK is just too much info....If you did this with your oven at home you would be surprised how it swings. Once you know your grill surface you can adjust based on the MAKs reading...I dont adjust it at all I cook with its display and have great results.

ht01us
01-31-2011, 09:23 AM
Good tips. I was using the big foil and put two sheets on crosswise so it wrapped it up the sides and over. I can see how that would create some insulation. I think I'll go without foil next time or at least just on the bottom. I have visions of myself out in the dark, cold rain some February night washing the drip pan. But sounds like just wait a day or two and scrape/brush it.

What do you make of the difference between the MAK readout and the Maverick? I guess it's true: "The man with one watch knows what time it is; the man with two watches is never really sure."

ht01us
01-31-2011, 09:25 AM
Ht Try the biscuit test on your grill Search for it here...It is basically referigerated biscuits placed an the grill ()on frogmats if you have them)
This is the best way to know your grills heat pattern. Where you have yours is usually a hot spot. Put it near the make thermocouple or towards the center where the meat is being cooked.

I find that monitoring the temp with an external source on a MAK is just too much info....If you did this with your oven at home you would be surprised how it swings. Once you know your grill surface you can adjust based on the MAKs reading...I dont adjust it at all I cook with its display and have great results.

Great info. I'll definitely try the biscuit test. I was using the Maverick so I could watch the temp from inside the house. Maybe what I really need is the remote pellet boss ;)

ht01us
01-31-2011, 01:38 PM
I'm wondering what the problem was with the toughness of the ribs. I know that they shouldn't be "fall off the bone", but these were pretty tough, with chunks just not coming off the bone even with a good hard tug. The smaller rack was the best leading to my leading theory that they weren't cooked long enough. Or could it be that I'm comparing St. Louis cut with baby back ribs. Are St. Louis ribs just tougher to start with? Or could it be the quality of the meet itself?

Anyway, what 2 or 3 things should I change to make the ribs better next time?
A. Remove aluminium foil to stop insulating the air?
B. Cook longer. These went a total of 4 1/2 hours.
C. Rotate the ribs every ??? hours?
D. ??

Would this question be better placed on Mak Central or elsewhere other than gallery?

TIA for your responses.

CarterQ
01-31-2011, 02:07 PM
If I had to guess, they needed more time to cook. With St. Louis ribs @225 it usually takes me 6 hours to get them tender.

A tried and true method to get spares nice and tender is the 3-2-1 method (texas crutch). 3 hours on smoke, foil with a little liquid for 2 hours, remove from foil and back on the grill for another hour to firm the ribs back up and finish. Again this is just one method. I personally don't foil, but foil or no foil 6 hours seems to be a pretty consistent time at 225.

These are just some thoughts, there are many more knowledgeable folks here in terms of ribs and hopefully they will chime in as well.

KyNola
01-31-2011, 02:50 PM
I'm with Carter on the 6 hour smoke/cook time on spare ribs. I watch for the meat to start pulling back from the bone. When I see about a half inch of bone showing, I call them done. It's normally around the 5 1/2-6 hour mark. I don't foil my ribs. I just don't find it necessary. There are many different methods folks like to employ when doing ribs.

TentHunter
01-31-2011, 03:28 PM
...I made my barbecue sauce. This is a smoker board, not a cooking board. If you are interested in the sauce, you can check out my blog entry (http://8in12.blogspot.com/2011/01/first-cook-on-new-smoker.html) (hope this isn't breaking a rule)...

Great blog HT. Please post away; we love ALL BBQ related recipes :)! Big poppa recently posted a Pineapple/Sweet Onion slaw recipe. I made some last week and it was a huge hit both at home and at work.



Re: the ribs. Like Carter & KYnola, I find it usually takes around 5 - 6 hours at 225 for spareribs to be tender.

ht01us
01-31-2011, 04:17 PM
A tried and true method to get spares nice and tender is the 3-2-1 method (texas crutch). 3 hours on smoke, foil with a little liquid for 2 hours, remove from foil and back on the grill for another hour to firm the ribs back up and finish.

Thanks CarterQ! When you say 3 hours on smoke; is that 3 hours with the Pellet Boss set point set to "Smoke"? Or 225? Or are they the same.

I think I'll try without the crutch next time.

Again, thanks for the help.

CarterQ
01-31-2011, 04:23 PM
Sorry about that, "smoke" being 225, smoke on the pellet boss is 180. 225 just works for me, I don't know if I have ever done ribs below that, always come out perfect at 225 and have plenty of smoke flavor. There are a few on this board who run higher temps with good results as well.

ht01us
01-31-2011, 04:29 PM
Sorry about that, "smoke" being 225, I don't know if I have ever done ribs below that, always come out perfect at 225 and have plenty of smoke flavor. There are a few on this board who run higher temps with good results as well.

Perfect; that's what I assumed but wanted to make sure. With MAK #37, you've done so much; I know I'm on my way with your help.

So, I need to practice patience and plan on 6 hours instead of shy of five.

I want to say again how awesome it was to cook on the MAK compared to my Weber kettle. I just set the temp and walk away. I think my next ribs will be without foil (either on the ribs or on the drip pan) to get a better baseline,

ITFD#15
01-31-2011, 05:04 PM
Kind of jumping in late to this post, so what I understand from the start of this post is that you should not foil the deflection/drip pan because it will change the temps in your grill?
Higher or lower?
I as well place tin foil on mine as suggested by the guy who sold me my traeger. I think it was for easy clean up.

Big Poppa
01-31-2011, 09:57 PM
it insulates the the drip pan and lowers the temp