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Old 07-20-2008, 12:01 AM   #1
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How can I tell if my ribs are done?

Just found this forum and am looking for some help. I've been cooking baby back ribs on a weber gas grill for the last few months. I get the temp up to about 200 degrees. I light the left most burner only and cook ribs on right side of grill away from heat (indirect). I use hickory wood chips in the smoker box and let cook for about 4 hours. The meat seems to shrink back from the bone but I've been finding the meat kinda tough. Are they over cooked or undercooked? I thought over-cooked ribs yielded meat that literally fell off the bone. I seem to have the opposite problem. Could they possibly need to cook longer? these are not huge baby back ribs. They don't taste bad it's just after 4 hours I would expect the meat to be very tender. What do you thinK? should i go longer or shorter?

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Old 07-20-2008, 12:06 AM   #2
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Much shorter and internal temp of 165-170 they should be done. Try wraping them in plastic wrap and foil with the seasonings on them cook for a hour and a half then unwrap and finnish on the grill. When you unwrap them the bone will be pulled back and you should be able to poke your finger through the meat with no trouble and they will be tender and fall of the bone. Baby back ribs are not very big and should not take much cooking or high heat.
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:36 AM   #3
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I made 2 racks of baby back ribs smoked on my Weber Genesis B (which was never designed for smoking). This is the method I used. I made a tray of heavy duty aluminum foil folded in 4 layers, about 1 foot long. Then I just turned on the front burner (of the 3), on high and put the smoker tray on the flavor bars under the grate right over the lit burner. I put some lightly wetted chips (not sure that the wetting is even necessary) in the tray and the ribs on the back half of the grate. To keep the temp down to about 220-230 I put a 10" landscaping spike under the corner of the lid to keep it open about 1/2 inch. I just watched the thermometer, played with the burner to keep the temp right, and added chips as needed for about 4 hours. All I can say is WOW!!!

I used a fairly generic rub of chili powder, chile molido, brown sugar, oregano, paprika, black and white pepper, and kosher salt Only for about the last 20 minutes did I finish them with my own sauce.

I smoked mine for 4 hours, and they were done perfectly, so it can be done on a regular gas grill. One method I've heard of to check for doneness is to bend the rack, and if the meat "breaks", they are ready. I've just been experimenting and finally seem to have found the right process. So keep pluggin' and you should find the right combo for your setup.
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:45 AM   #4
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It sounds like they could possibly be overcooked. Do they appear to be dried out? Did you leave them in one big slab?
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:13 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by cg1200 View Post
Just found this forum and am looking for some help. I've been cooking baby back ribs on a weber gas grill for the last few months. I get the temp up to about 200 degrees. I light the left most burner only and cook ribs on right side of grill away from heat (indirect). I use hickory wood chips in the smoker box and let cook for about 4 hours. The meat seems to shrink back from the bone but I've been finding the meat kinda tough. Are they over cooked or undercooked? I thought over-cooked ribs yielded meat that literally fell off the bone. I seem to have the opposite problem. Could they possibly need to cook longer? these are not huge baby back ribs. They don't taste bad it's just after 4 hours I would expect the meat to be very tender. What do you thinK? should i go longer or shorter?
A few months is way too long to be cooking your ribs for
Oh wait, just read the rest of your post

Welcome to the goup. My guess is the ribs are done because you said the meat is pulling back, but they may be dried out. After a couple hours of smoking, try wrapping them in a foil pouch with some cooking liquid; apple juice, pop, beer... then put them back on for another 1-1/2-2 hours. Unwrap, put them back on the grill and start saucing them for another 30 minutes. I've done them this way and they pick up enough smoke taste in the first two hours and are very moist. I use a four burner Ducane BTW.
That said, I think four hours is too long for baby backs without wrapping them during some porion of their cooking. I "smoked" country style ribs last night without wrapping and they were done after four hours. For all the time involved with smoking, the jury is still out (for me) if they aren't just as good using faster methods.
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Old 07-20-2008, 08:43 AM   #6
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200* is too cool, and 4 hours is too long at that temperature to BBQ loin back ribs. The ribs are over cooked, and dehydrated...dry and chewy. Kick your temperature up to 240-250* and cut your cooking time in half...
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Old 07-20-2008, 11:53 AM   #7
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200* is too cool, and 4 hours is too long at that temperature to BBQ loin back ribs. The ribs are over cooked, and dehydrated...dry and chewy. Kick your temperature up to 240-250* and cut your cooking time in half...
Exactly - dehydrated, dry and chewy. 2 hours seems so short but it certainly seems like the meat is overcooked. The ribs are relatively small so I don't cut them in half. Would that help?

Also i find it difficult to get a meat thermometer into the ribs to get an accurate reading.
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:00 PM   #8
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It sounds like they could possibly be overcooked. Do they appear to be dried out? Did you leave them in one big slab?
My confusion is I keep reading that if ribs are overcooked the turn to mush and the meat comes off the bone too easily. Mine are slightly chewy and a bit tough.

Each rack is about the length of your elbow to the tips of your fingers. I didn't cut them in half. I baste them every 30 minutes with a mixture of Worcestershire and olive oil.
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:04 PM   #9
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I'd wrap them in foil with your marinade or bbq sauce for the first hour or so then smoke/grill them for flavor. You can never go wrong with this method.
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:26 PM   #10
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Exactly - dehydrated, dry and chewy. 2 hours seems so short but it certainly seems like the meat is overcooked. The ribs are relatively small so I don't cut them in half. Would that help?

Also i find it difficult to get a meat thermometer into the ribs to get an accurate reading.
No... Cutting them in half would really serve no purpose here. Only if they want fit your cooking surface would it be of any benefit. Don't confuse loin back ribs with spare ribs where longer cooking times of 4 1/2 to 5 hours are needed at times...While the loin backs can be succussfully cooked (BBQed) for that period of time...IMO they are better cooked hotter and faster with less time on the grill to over cook, dry out, dehydrate, etc. They can even be grilled to perfection ...See the link below.


Charcoal Grilled Ribs
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