Monday, May 25, 2009

Who Stole My Smoke Ring?

I had a pair of spare ribs so I decided to do a "throwdown" between two products, Big Bob Gibson's rub and sauce versus Billy Bones rub and sauce.I know what you're thinking, it's not fair, the Billy Bones side has TWO rubs and adds cherry preserves to the sauce. First, that is how I have been doing my spares when I want wet ribs (I use my own rub when doing dry). Second, who cares? I was just experimenting a bit.

I cut both spares St. Louis style. I seasoned one with a 50/50 mix of Billy Bones XXX Cherry Rub and Billy Bones Competition rub (aka "green label"). I seasoned the other with Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Rub. I stuck a toothpick in one of the ribs so I could remember which was which.

I smoked them together on the Big Green Egg using Full Circle lump, 1" x 3" hickory chunks (local), and some cherry wood chips. I ran it at 250f dome temp but it got a little higher a few times. I turned the cooking grate 1/3rd turn each hour (to keep from having the same part over the hot spots the whole time).I wasn't going to use foil (3-2-1 method), but after 4 hours got nervous that they weren't getting done fast enough to beat the oncoming storms, so I wrapped them in foil for an hour. When I took them out of the foil, I sauced the Gibson one with Big Bob Gibson's Championship Red Sauce. I hit the Billy Bones one with a 50/50 mix of his Original BBQ Sauce and cherry preserves that were chopped up with an immersion blender. I let them go for another 20 minutes and they were done. The rain started 10 minutes after they came off the cooker:)

They looked really good. The rib bones were sticking out just perfectly, which is a good indicator to me that they were going to be tender.Sliced them up and testing began immediately, no waiting for fancy trappings like plates.
They were BOTH VERY GOOD. I would have been happy with each on their own. But everyone agreed that the "toothpick" ones were just a tiny bit better than the other ones, because of the sweetness. So Billy Bones won out this time. What does that prove? Nothing. Just that my family was in the mood for sweet ribs on this day. (For the record, in Big Bob Gibson's BBQ book, Chris Lilly mentions that they add sweetners to their Red sauce in competitions as well.)
They would have scored will on taste and texture in a comp, but would have given up points on appearance for the limited smoke ring. I've run into this the past few cooks for butts and ribs. That's why I was extra sure to use bigger chunks of hickory this time and they were distributed throughout the coal. I did have a nice thin smoke throughout the cook.

The one thing I have been doing different is using a deep dish pizza pan as a drip pan. It has liquid in it to keep the drippings from burning/smoldering but now I'm thinking that this is putting too much moisture inside the cooking chamber, slowing the formation of a smoke ring. Thoughts from any of you fellow Eggheads or BBQ'rs?

16 comments:

  1. We don't have and Egg = ( just a regular gas grill and a smoker. I would be hard pressed to be able to pick one. They both look absolutely AMAZING!!!!!

    But you are welcome any time to come and grill on our deck!

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  2. Hmm... the Spouse, who is in charge of smoking, says that it's certainly possible that the liquid in the drip pan inhibited the smoke ring, although he hasn't experimented to be sure. Either way the ribs look delicious :)

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  3. You have my mouth watering. I love ribs and both sound so good but I would probably prefer the sweeter one too.

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  4. A "smoke ring" is nice on beef brisket, but some of the smaller pork ribs that were tender and tasty wouldn't be marked down very much! Lookin' good! I would have had money on the winner of that test! I chickened out on smoking that leg of lamb- just roasted it in the oven with a wet rub!

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  5. Smoke Ring? KCBS judges aren't supposed to look for a smoke ring!

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  6. BD: I wasn't sure on that. We're just getting ready for our first comp later this year so I'm playing around. I wasn't sure how the .5714% rating that goes to appearance in KCBS was broken out. I was surprised that appearance totals more than taste and texture combined for the point system weighting factors.

    WTBBQ - See? I didn't know that:) I've been reading the rules and am trying to practice them in my cooks but I haven't been too well versed on the judging side yet.

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  7. Chris- this issue is getting to be a factor that detracts from the important stuff- texture and flavor... Florida has an interesting rule- plating counts for nothing! I like that, personally!BB-Q guys ain't interior decorators, dammit!

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  8. Appearance annoys me, BB-Q guys ain't interior decorators- we cook good food!

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  9. I don't know a smoke ring from a bong, but that second picture sorta looks like I think a scene in one of those rated R gore movies would.

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  10. Chris: While KCBS judges aren't supposed to look for a smoke ring, many of them do. I agree with BD on the smoke ring, it's better on the larger cuts of meat.

    The KCBS breakdown are: 1.The weighting factors for the point system are as follows: Appearance - 0.5714, Taste - 2.2858, Tenderness / Texture - 1.1428

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  11. I'd say just forget about the ring. Sure, you put it on and you become invisible and that's cool and all, but then you gotta deal with that Gollum guy. He's soooo annoying and tends to linger. Man I HATE linger-ers.

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  12. You said you overnighted some to me???

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  13. I like a sweeter BBQ sauce, myself. (Please move to Florida... There are several houses in our neighborhood... Seriously. That way I could taste all of the stuff you make. :D)

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  14. HA! That green thing really is smiling at you isn't it? Well I'll be darned...a throw down...you are prettier than Bobby Flay! Your food probably tastes better too :) cause it sure looks good!

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  15. Just found your blog, and it's making me think I need to get a smoker. These ribs look great!

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  16. I wouldn't worry about a smoke ring on ribs and don;t think the water pan had anything to do with it's absence as by science the moisture would have helped. I would think that the enhancements in the ribs were the cause. If a smoke ring is important to you just use fresh meat or add a bit of Tender Quick to your rub. I enjoy your posts, thank you.

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