Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Recipes and techniques using brine.

Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby vanessap » Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:45 pm

Hi Everyone,

I hope you're all well - I'm new here. I was hoping that I could ask your opinion on brining your ribs with cure 1 before you smoke them to encourage the pink smoke ring and to allow for lower cooking temperatures. Please may I ask your experiences and if you might be able to point me in the direction of any brine recipes including cure 1?

Thank you for your time and help!

Vanessa
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby NCPaul » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:27 pm

Cure #1 is not used on ribs that are smoked in the US. The pink ring on smoked ribs comes from applying smoke in a low oxygen atmosphere. In the States the ribs are cooked at about 225F, which is considered "hot smoking". I've not come across a rib recipe that includes cure #1, not that there isn't one.
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby vanessap » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:37 pm

Hi NCPaul,

Thank you for responding - I have a Cookshack pellet smoker but don't seem to be getting the desired result. I have tried mixing in a small quantity of charcoal but I noticed on another thread that someone mentioned crushing the charcoal and adding a larger quantity. Might you have any tips - also I'd like to try and make the meat a bit more tender which is why I'm thinking of brining.

Thank you,
Vanessa
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby ComradeQ » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:18 pm

Funny, another forum I post on had a link to smokerless brisket recently and your post reminded me http://www.chefsteps.com/activities/smo ... ed-brisket. They use a cure to mimic the smoke ring ... unrelated I know, I digress ...

Generally ribs don't need a brine to tenderize them. With that said, I have heard of people rubbing a cure on ribs a few hours before smoking to get a deeper smoke ring then rinsing it off. I personally think there is no need but to each their own I guess.

Three things you could try if you really want tender ribs (I myself think there should be a little toothiness and they should not just fall off the bone) The first trick is to remove the thin membrane that runs along the bone side of the ribs ... just slide a knife underneath and loosen it at one edge thenm using some paper kitchen towel for grip, grab the membrane and peel it clean along the length of the rack. You should be able to remove it in one long shot. This membrane creates a tougher bite as it shrinks and tightens during cooking.

Second, smoke them according to the 3-2-1 rule (I actually prefer 3-1-1 but the 3-2-1 method will bring more fall off the bone type ribs). Rub with a spice rub, smoke for 3 hours uncovered, wrap in heavy duty foil tightly with some honey, brown sugar, splash of beer, favourite bbq sauce, apple juice, whatever you like to use (experiment, I like a light coating of brown sugar, equal amount of honey, and a splash of a good dark beer) Make sure it is wrapped tightly and return to the smoker covered in foil for 2 hours (or in my preferred method just 1 hour) After that is done remove from foil and place back in smoker uncovered to glaze for the last 1 hour (hence 3-2-1) You can brush on ths reserved liquid from the foil or some BBQ sauce too.

Last, if all else fails and you still want them even more tender do one of two things ... use some meat tenderizer powder in your rub (this is derived from pineapple) or add some pineapple juice in with the foil in step two of the method above. Pineapple naturally denatures protein and softens meat ... however too much and it turns to mush so don't marinate it for any prolonged amount of time.

Hope these suggestions help! Let me know if you want any more help or clarification of anything above! Good luck and post pics of your cook! ;)
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby kil2k » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:21 pm

Great info, Comrade. I'm yet to perfect ribs, so I'll give that method a go next time.
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby vanessap » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:29 pm

Hi ComradeQ,

Thank you so much, I will definitely try and post pictures next week! May I ask what temperature you smoke at for 3-1-1 please?

Vanessa :)
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby kil2k » Wed Sep 23, 2015 7:03 pm

200-225°F should be perfect 8)
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby vagreys » Thu Sep 24, 2015 7:10 am

Vanessa,

While Cure #1 might mimic a smoke ring, it would also add a distinct flavor that you might not want in ribs. Cook the ribs at about 210-225°F over indirect heat until about 3/8" of the rib bones are exposed along the slab of ribs. This works regardless of the weight of the ribs. As a ballpark estimate of time, I use about 2 hrs per lb for the largest slab. On an ideal 3-lb slab of spareribs, that comes right back to the 3-2-1 timing mentioned above. Try to avoid heavy, sooty smoke. Instead, go for a thin blue smoke that you can definitely smell, and that makes your eyes tear if you stand over it, but that is very thin. This will impart all the smoke flavor without depositing bitter tars and soot on the meat. It takes practice. Enjoy your mistakes and enjoy your successes even more.
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby ComradeQ » Thu Sep 24, 2015 2:29 pm

kil2k wrote:200-225°F should be perfect 8)


Yup, 225 is my preferred temp for ribs ... sometimes it climbs up to 250 but that range is good for me. Usually just twist a bone and if the meat starts pulling away you know you are there for doneness ... or pretty close.

Vagreys is spot on with his smoke advice. With pellet smokers it is sometimes hard to get a smoke ring but I think they are overhyped anyway as long as you have the smoke flavour and the texture that you want.

For a rub keep it simple and don't over complicate it, stick with tried and true rubs. I admit I use a purchased rub - Big Ron's Hint of Houston - as I really like the flavour profile and the low salt level (he is also a poster on another forum I frequent and is a super nice guy) although I have made my own many times.

For wood choices I tend to stick with fruit woods, apple and cherry, but hickory, oak and pecan are also great.

Just to further complicate your choices, some people like to rub a light yellow mustard coating on the ribs before applying the rub. I have tried with and without and I don't see the necessity but as Vagreys said, have fun experimenting and enjoy your mistakes and successes.

BTW Welcome to this great forum, you will love it! Amazing group of people here who will always go out of their way to help you with anything you need! Enjoy your stay!! :)
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby ComradeQ » Thu Sep 24, 2015 2:34 pm

kil2k wrote:Great info, Comrade. I'm yet to perfect ribs, so I'll give that method a go next time.


Once you get it down this method never fails! Takes some experimenting before you find what you prefer but it was advice handed down to me some time back that I followed and it really helped me perfect my rib cook (as if I could ever do that being the anal perfectionist I am - nothing is ever good enough, lol)

After you get the ribs dialed in try adding some drip beans underneath to catch all that goodness as they cook, I can't get enough of them!
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby ericrice » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:00 pm

I'm a bit late to this party but for a detailed explanation on smoke rings and why you aren't likely to see one with an electric smoker I would suggest you check out amazingribs.com
It's a great resource site for all kinds of questions in addition to recipes.
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Re: Brining Ribs Before Smoking

Postby wheels » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:01 pm

+1 for amazingribs.com it's a great site.

Phil
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