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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.

      http://biggreenegg.com/

      http://www.eggheadforum.com/index.php...

      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 eggheadforum.com , a new world awaits!

        jbh

        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).

            2. You could also try using a plate setter (a heat deflector) for indirect heating, which will allow you to slowly smoke the meat. Otherwise you're using your egg like a bbq, which is fine, if that's what you were going for.

              2 Replies
              1. re: faddyarbuckle

                Faddy,

                I agree. I also wonder if 275-300 F is a bit on the higher side.

              2. I'm very surprised to read this. From what I've read about the BGE, it "makes the juiciest chicken ever" and things of that nature, because of how the ceramic "seals in juices" and "keeps moisture in".

                3 Replies
                1. re: tommy

                  The BGE is an excellent cooker, but just as many of the other smokers out there you have to use the right temps and even at that point it has to be the right cut of meat. As said before, Country style ribs are not ribs. They can be treated as ribs and cooked low and slow. If the meat is very tough, try cooking them for longer and letting the meat break down a bit more. I use a pellet cooker and sometimes even when I do everything the same I still end up with a tougher rib. I use the 3-2-1 method that was spoke of before and sometimes the cut of meat is just tough too. All you can do is practice, practice, practice.

                  1. re: tommy

                    The ceramic does not seal in juices. Ceramic simply holds the heat very well as it has superior insulating properties.

                  2. I think everyone has already covered it but just try a lower temperature and leave them on until they seem very tender.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: tzakiel

                      Go over the the egghead forum and do a search. Lots of info there. Enjoy your egg. I cook almost exclusively on mine. There is one drawback though, restaurant grilling will no longer taste good to you! We hardly ever go out to dinner anymore.

                      1. re: sharhamm

                        That's only a drawback for the restaurateurs in your area ;-)

                    2. I just want to say the Big Green Egg should be called Big Avocado. I don't care how good it cooks. It is one ugly color, I tell you.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I love it because it's so ugly!! =D It's the exact opposite of those 6 burner stainless steel beauties. I also love it because of how well it does everything.

                        1. re: pabboy

                          Its ugly color will not stop me from saving money to get one :P I am just saying that it isn't a color I like. On the other hand, you are correct. There is something endearing about being unattractive. The Big Green Egg will retent its humble look for years to come (I have seen them in friends' house) whereas the shiny stainless steel beauties will have their look for about a month.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            It's a great conversation piece. First time guests always ask about it then after they taste the goods, they wanna buy it. None have so far but they keep on asking when my next BBQ is. It's just so damn lovably ugly!

                      2. have you joined the eggheadforum yet? GREAT place for bge help and recipes. tons of VERY good q'ers there, including dr. bbq, whose a regular.

                        1. You're cooking BBQ in what amounts to a pottery kiln or forge--LOOOOOOOOOOWWW.

                          1. I have never done country ribs on my large BGE but with racks of spare ribs I first prep the ribs by peeling off the silverskin on the backside and lightly notching (and cleaning back) to create a gap between each rib by a uniform 1/4" to 1/2". Ribs then receive any one (or combination) of dry rubs like Dizzy Dust or the BGE rub, etc. and allow them to rest for 4 to 6 hours in the fridge.

                            I set up the egg with the plate setter to create indirect heat and use a drip pan 3" below the grille surface to hold about 6 oz of beer or apple cider which creates some steam for the first 2 hours or so before it evaporates so at the end of 3 hours the pan is usually dry.

                            Build the lump charcoal fire as recommended for a long fire; (biggest pieces at the bottom and adjacent to the vent holes, progressively smaller pieces of charcoal, and then top with three baseball sized chuncks of whatever wood (previously soaked in water) as soon as the fire is lit....I've tried oak, hickory, mequite, apple and maple and actually found the latter to our preference. Getting the fire started and locking in at a 215 to 225 degree fire is surprisingly easy. Ribs go on. I use a metal stand that allows me to hold up to 5 racks (just as easy doing a 'batch' as doing a single rack) and then follow the low and slow approach with smoke pouring out for the first couple of hours. Most of the smoke dissipates after the second hour but I keep the ribs on, with minimal peeking for somewhere around 4 hours. I test at that point by cutting through one of the ribjoints (and tasting) to decide whether to go any longer or not.. Most ofter have not gone further but you really are cooking to suit your own taste and preference for texture.

                            Once removed from the BGE I will tent them with foil just long enough to bring them inside and get them onto the table where we'll serve a home made bbq sauce on the side. These ribs have never ever been tough, bite tender but not 'falling' off the bone, moist enough and very well flavored so the sauce is really just an option.

                            I use a similar low and slow approach with pork shoulder although I run the Egg at a 225 to 235 temperature but with a drip pan using at least 24 oz. of a cider and cider vinegar liquid that includes whatever rub that I use plus some dry chili powder mixed in. I rely upon my Maverick Model 73 dual probe thermometer to give me the peace of mind that the smoker remains under control for a long smoke. It also allows me to monitor the pork shoulder (that I both cover with a rub for 24 hours and inject with an apple cider and chicken stock base mixed with bbq rub) rise up from 40 degrees core temp to maybe 165 degrees within 4 hours where it hits a 'plateau' and hovers there for another 4 hours without rising. At some point the meat begins to rise again, this time much much slower than the initial 4 hours, and you simply have to let it be until the internal temperature hits between 195 and 200. Depending upon the size and density of the meat, that could well require between 12 hours total and 16 hours; hence the importance of building the fire properly, with charcoal to the top of the fire box rim, so it will last that duration.

                            Removing the shoulder before 195 degrees, I found chunks of fat inside that have not been rendered whereas at just around 200 degrees most of that has been converted into moisture within the meat. Consequently I now target at 195 to remove the it from the Egg. I wrap the pork shoulder in heavy foil and keep it at least 30 minutes before pulling when I add in a North Carolina style, cider vinegar liquid to taste. This has never failed to feed an appreciative crowd.

                            1. Your BGE should be capable of making the most moist and best ribs ever, regardless of raw ingredients or cooking technique. I'm surprised.

                              1. for great ribs, google "carwash mike" ribs. you will find tons of links. this is my go to method now and it never lets me down.