How many ribs?

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How many ribs?

Post by Mmmmm » October 27th, 2014, 9:56 am

What do you all consider the maximum as far as the number of racks of St Louis spares on a UDS?



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Re: How many ribs?

Post by The Czar » October 27th, 2014, 10:27 am

With rib racks probably 16 to 20 is my guess… Otherwise four without rib racks


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Re: How many ribs?

Post by Mmmmm » October 27th, 2014, 12:59 pm

dcman (The Czar) wrote:With rib racks probably 16 to 20 is my guess… Otherwise four without rib racks
Would you run a heat deflector if you were loading it up?



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Re: How many ribs?

Post by Pete Mazz » October 27th, 2014, 2:53 pm

Mmmmm wrote:
dcman (The Czar) wrote:With rib racks probably 16 to 20 is my guess… Otherwise four without rib racks
Would you run a heat deflector if you were loading it up?
No, just a bib for DC! :beer:


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Re: How many ribs?

Post by The Czar » October 27th, 2014, 2:56 pm

Right!!! I don't run a deflector but my drum is taller than standard and has a done lid with my racks up higher....


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Re: How many ribs?

Post by Mmmmm » October 27th, 2014, 4:28 pm

OK, let me tell you about my epic fail this last weekend. I was asked to serve a meal for a custom harvest guy's annual end of harvest celebration for his employees. We were serving 56 people and the menu was ABT's and bacon-wrapped smokies for appetizers and spare ribs and white sauce chicken quarters for the main course. Sides were lettuce salad, baked potatoes, and dinner rolls with cheesecakes for dessert.

I took two 55 gallon UDS's and one mini UDS, along with two Weber kettles for the dessert. Dinner was to be at 7. I lit one drum for the ribs and put them on at around 1 o'clock. I used rib racks and had 5 racks on one grate and 6 racks on the other. I have had a little trouble when I overload my drum, that in order to get enough heat up through the lower grates to cook the top grates, I have to run quite a hot fire and have sometimes scorched the food on the lower level. I was worried about scorching the bottom racks so at around 2 or 2.5 hours into the cook I unloaded the cooker and switched the top rack for the bottom. Everything looked normal at that point. I visually checked to make sure my digital probe was inserted at just above the lower grate level but not touching anything. The probe temp ran in the 255 range all afternoon. At 5 o'clock I loaded the other two drums with chicken quarters and the kettles with the appetizers. At 6 o'clock I figured the ribs should be about done, so I opened the lid and picked out the first rack and the bend test was almost perfect and they probed tender. Ya, baby, these suckers are lookin' GOOD! Then I picked up the next rack, and it... didn't... bend... at all. From on top it looked almost perfect, but (if you can picture the ribs leaning in a rib rack) the back (bone) side of the ribs that was angled toward the bottom, together with the bottom edge, was charred. I mean, charred. I was sick. It's been years since I ruined a rack of ribs, and I don't know if I have ever ruined them that bad. In all, we were able to salvage about half of the ribs I cooked. With an emergency trip to a local BBQ joint for six full racks, and after brushing said racks with our sauce to mask the difference, our guests were none the wiser. However, it was incredibly humiliating for me to fail so miserably on a cook for only 56 folks. I've been cooking weddings for 450-500 people on numerous occasions the last couple of summers with success. I'm still not sure what went wrong. 5 hours is not extraordinarily long for a cooker at that temp for spares, maybe would end up extra tender but not usually charred stiff as a board. All I can think of is that I overloaded the cooker. I've done up to 8 racks on a drum without using rib racks and they were fine.

I would value everyone's input as I'd sure like to learn from this experience so I don't repeat it.



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Re: How many ribs?

Post by Mmmmm » October 27th, 2014, 4:30 pm

I should add that I have always run deflectors in my drums, but lately I've been experimenting without them and haven't noticed any difference, so I was running with no deflector on this cook.



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Re: How many ribs?

Post by Mmmmm » October 27th, 2014, 4:51 pm

I guess in a nutshell, my question would be, is there a limit where a cooker is technically overloaded even if you can fit it in?



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Re: How many ribs?

Post by Smokeone » October 27th, 2014, 6:19 pm

I'm no expert, but I would think so. The big problem I see is the air flow. The low rack takes all the heat and sucks it up, thus slowing the natural draft. Kinda like a heat sink.


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Re: How many ribs?

Post by Mmmmm » October 27th, 2014, 9:56 pm

Smokeone wrote:I'm no expert, but I would think so. The big problem I see is the air flow. The low rack takes all the heat and sucks it up, thus slowing the natural draft. Kinda like a heat sink.
That's exactly what I am thinking. I did another cook where I stuffed the drum to the gills and, although I can't remember when it was or what I was cooking, I do remember having trouble getting heat up through all the food. I also remember that McGuyvering a 3' long piece of 4" pipe over the chimney helped a lot to even out temps from the top to bottom grates. I've been running four grates on some cooks - Two grates sitting on the bolts as you normally would and then another two flipped upside down at 90 degrees to the others, so they are sitting handles on handles. This works pretty well for small stuff like ABT's but I think to really load them up is just over the limit as far as what the drum can effectively cook.

Time for a 250 gallon trailer.

Basically, my take-away from this cook is, don't overload the drum. Running another smoker and cutting the load in half is going to be less stressful than a failed cook an hour before the guests arrive.



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Re: How many ribs?

Post by Pete Mazz » October 28th, 2014, 6:07 am

I've never had consistent success with those rib racks. If they don't lay just right, I get very uneven cooking. I kept one and gave the rest away.

Overloading any vertical cooker isn't a good idea. Better to leave enough room in between racks than to have to move racks from top to bottom every so often.

A bigger cooker solves all these problems! :chef:


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Re: How many ribs?

Post by Rodcrafter » October 28th, 2014, 6:12 am

I would also consider that the drippings from all the meat would cause small flash fires. The bottom rack would get all of that every time. the deflector could have saved some of that from happening.

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Re: How many ribs?

Post by alleyrat58 » October 31st, 2014, 1:45 pm

Mmmmm wrote:I guess in a nutshell, my question would be, is there a limit where a cooker is technically overloaded even if you can fit it in?
Yep. I overloaded my Chuterdoo on Thanksgiving last year and couldn't get the cabinet to heat up. Ended up having to pull some of the turkeys out and use a second one. I aslo agree with Pete Mazz that those rib racks aren't good IMHO.


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Re: How many ribs?

Post by Mmmmm » October 31st, 2014, 1:59 pm

Rodcrafter wrote:I would also consider that the drippings from all the meat would cause small flash fires. The bottom rack would get all of that every time. the deflector could have saved some of that from happening.

jm2cw

But I'm all in for a bigger smoker, heck yea!
Except that I've seen the grease on my deflector flare up before so...



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