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May 2, 2010 08:51 PM

Got Big Green Egg. Now what?

Thanks to all who provided advice about purchasing a Big Green Egg. We have now bought a Large one, and we're eager to get going.

I tried making country ribs today, using a recipe that called for smoking the meat at 275-300 or so for about four hours. The meat came out really tough, although pretty tasty. PLEASE, what should I do to make my ribs as I want them to be...falling of the bone tender, yet juicy meat? Is there anything I can do with the ribs I've already cooked to make them more tender?

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  1. I would smoke them at a lower temp and for much longer. For meat like ribs and brisket, the key is to get the meat to a high enough temp to melt the cartilage in the meat that makes it tough. I haven't cooked country ribs in particular, but for a pork shoulder, I will cook at 225-250 for 20 hours for falling off the bone, tender, shreddable meat. I think the meat internal temp should be at least 195, but don't quote me on the number. The meat should be receding back from the bone before you stop cooking.

    1. You might get better info if you go to the BGE website and forum.

      1. Country ribs ain't ribs, they're sliced pork butt. So cook them at around 225F (more or less) to about 195F internal.

        What happens with low-temp cooking is that the fat and connective tissues break down, giving you that tender juicy pork. And it's done when it's done; internal temp is what counts. You can't go by time; you need a meat thermometer. A Thermapen is best but a cheap slow-reacting Acurite digital will do.

        Get yourself over to , a new world awaits!


        1. The first thing you need to understand is that "country ribs" are not ribs at all. They are just sliced up pork butt. I like country ribs, but I would grill them over high heat the same as I would a pork butt steak.

          For "bbq" ribs you need to get a rack of baby backs or spare ribs (my pick). Learn how to get the temp of your BGE down into the 225-250 range...and how to keep it steady. It doesn't hurt to give that egg a trial run or two with no food on it. Just burn it to get the hang of the thing.

          If you cook baby backs, you can use what is called the 2-2-1 method...spare ribs usually do good with the 3-2-1 method. In the case of spares this means you smoke the ribs for 3 hours, wrap them in foil for 2 hours and continue to cook, then unwrap them and smoke for an additional 1 hour...hence, 3-2-1.

          You'll quickly find that with bbq nothing is written in stone. Sometimes meat takes longer, sometime is gets done way faster than you anticipated. But with ribs the 3-2-1 (or 2-2-1) method usually gets you to where you want.

          One more word of wisdom...fall off the bone ribs are actually overcooked ribs. Folks have fallen in love with this type of ribs because that's all they seem to get at the restaurant chains. In reality a perfectly done rib actually holds on to the bone. The meat should be tender, but when you take a bite you should see a perfect bite mark with the surrounding meat staying perfectly in place.

          Best of luck with your egg.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JayL

            On backs, 2-2-1 might result in a mush rack. I find 2-1-1 to be sufficient more often than not.

            I agree with you on falling off the bone. I'm not looking for pot roast.

          2. As everyone has noted, the whole point of "low and slow" for meat with a lot of connective tissue is that the optimal range for converting tough collagen into tender gelatin is an internal temp between 149 and 175 F. Too cool or too hot and you just cook the meat without effecting the collagen - it's no longer raw, but not tender. Cooking at 200-225F will get the internal temp to the right range and keeping it there for an extended period will achieve an appropriate level of doneness and allow ample time for all the collagen to break down.

            Good steaks with little connective tissue just need a quick sear.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ferret

              I dare you to cook a pork butt anywhere between 149 & 175 and see if it resembles actual bbq. Not trying to be a jerk or anything, but at that temperature range you'll be slicing it like a roast or chopping it with a cleaver into tiny little chunks (and even that won't be easy). Even up at 175 it's not going to pull. That's way too low for bbq.

              1. re: JayL

                Exactly -- collagen doesn't start to break down until temp gets to 180F.

                1. re: MikeB3542

                  You're dead on, Mike. My butts never come off before 190 degrees...with 195 being superior (YES there is a noticeable difference between 190 & 195). Even up to 200 degrees is perfectly acceptable for pork butts.

                  149? You read that somewhere & it was written by an idiot. LOL. I know you read it because you can not pull pork at that temperature (therefore I know you didn't actually do it yourself).