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Smoking a rib roast

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I've cooked a good deal of rib roasts in the oven but I've never smoked one before. The things that I've smoked have always been low and slow, either pork or brisket. What do I need to follow for time and temperature when smoking a 8lb rib roast to rare/med rare.

Would I want to smoke at a higher temperature or keep it low until the desired temperature is reached?

post #2 of 12
My favorite way to cook a rib roast in the oven is at 250. This should translate almost directly to a smoker in temperature. However, smokers are subject to weather and the cook more than a standard oven.

For the oven, it's about 20 minutes a pound for bone-in, about 15 minutes a pound for bone-less if you start with a room temperature roast. So you're looking at about 2.5 hours minimum maybe 3 with recovery time as you fiddle with the roast while cooking. Assuming you can hold a steady 250. Could even be as much as 4 with the variables as a 8ish pound pork shoulder usually hits about 140 after 4 hours in my smoker.

Let it rest after coming out of course.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 12
This is deceptively complicated. There are two ways to answer -- three if you combine them.

The first way is to give you some explanation and understanding which will lead to informed choices on your prat. The second is to just throw a recipe at you and let you do your best to follow it.

Knowing you, you want the first and would like the second since reading it won't take much time. But I'm going to go with just the first, at least until you give me enough information to tailor my advice -- so we can just rip right through it.

This a deck full of jokers.

The first few concern your smoker. What type is it? Bullet, offset, or cabinet. What size? What level of quality? Can you get it to hold a consistent temperature over a long period of time. You're probably going to have your roast in the smoke for at least an hour and a half -- and maybe more. You can probably do that on one load of fuel, but to cook the roast all the way through you'll probably need a reload. Can you keep a steady temp with a reload?

Don't you have an ECB (El Cheapo Brinkmann)? Or, do I have you mixed up with someone else? If you're burning charcoal, make sure you burn a high quality lump hardwood, and not Kingsford briquette, and start with a chimney, fatwood or a torch, not with lighter fluid. The taste difference is immense. Also, you want to start thinking about putting together a charcoal basket, if you haven't already. Your life will undergo a vast improvement.

Still on the smoker: How do you measure your chamber temp? How do you measure your meat's internal temperature. If you don't own a RediChek Maverick ET-73 you should. The Maverick has two temperature probes, one for the meat and one for the chamber, attached to a wireless transmitter. The wireless receiver is good to about 60', if it doesn't have to go through too many walls and windows. It provides a very accurate reading -- without keeping you tethered to the smoker.

You can get good readings from a door mounted dial-type if you've got a great smoker like a Laing or a Klose -- otherwise forget it. If you don't have 1/4" steel, you're going to be reading the outside as much as the inside.

That's Maverick ET-73. Not that the ET-73 doesn't have it's foibles, but it's the best a home smoker can do for anywhere near the money. That's Redi Check Maverick ET-73, don't be confused, deterred or dissuaded. Not ET-71, not ET-7, and not anything else. $40 from a number of online retailers, incluidng ikitchen. No kidding, you really need one.

How long you'll cook over smoke depends on the temperature you can hold, and the type of wood you use. With anything but a full-on stick burner (and if you don't know what I mean, you almost certainly don't have one), you won't want to cook the roast over smoke for more than half of the total cooking time (calculated as single temperature). You want some smoke, but not so much that you overpower the roast.

Good beef like you're using will cook best at a fairly high smoker temperature, above 275F. But most smokers don't smoke well at much above 300F, because the chunk hardwood used to give smoke burst into flame and burns too hot. That's a fairly narrow ideal range. The reality is that unless you've got a very adaptable rig like an expensive cabinet, expensive offset, WSM, a ceramic like a BGE; or, are getting heat from gas or electricity; your smoker has a preferred temperature which is pretty low, probably around 225. Anything much hotter becomes a problematic exercise in fire control. Better to cook where your cooker likes it, than spend an entire afternoon fighting your tools.

What kind of wood do you use for smoking? Is it a heavy, strong-flavored smoke like Hickory or mesquite? Something the next step down like oak? Milder like pecan and blackcherry? Milder still like apple, pear, alder, citrus, etc?

Your meat; is it Choice, Prime or "Better than Choice" Angus? Bone in or bone out? Cap on or off? How much fat did the butcher leave you to play with?

All of these factors form a complex interplay which determine how much time you want to spend on the smoke.

I'd smoke an 8 pound standing rib for 90 minutes at 275 over oak, while preheating the inside oven to 450F. Then I'd pull the roast from the smoker, put it in the oven, and knock the oven temperature down to 325, and figure about 45 minutes left to medium rare. If I couldn't use the oven (didn't want to heat the house, or oven real estate already taken), I'd bump the smoker to 325 (I use a gas fired "Afterburner H" for heat, so these temperatures are very easy) and just keep cooking. If the best you can do is keep chugging along at 225, then do that.

The thing about giving you an estimate for cooking at 225, is that estimates become increasingly unreliable as the temperature falls. But, if memory serves for 225, it's 35 or 40 minutes per pound to medium rare (125-130F). I also seem to rembember about 25 min/lb for med rare at 250, bone in or out -- which differs from Phil's estimate by a bit.

It's not indoor cooking, and even if it were, rib roast is your friend. Exact timing is not that important with large pieces of meat. What is important is that you allow any large piece of meat, especially when smoked, an extensive rest. Wrap the meat in foil or cling wrap when it comes out of the oven, put it in an insulated cooler and allow at least 30 minutes -- preferably an hour or more -- and as much as four. It will not only hold, it will improve greatly.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice phatch! I sure hope the weather cooperates :o The temperature was in the mid 70's today, but in the Chicago area fashion the temperature is supposed to drop:( We'll see...

We took advantage of the temperature by bringing the family to the zoo...what a nice day! But that did cause me to respond to this post quite late :o

Thanks for the post BDL!

The smoker I use at work is a Brinkmann Smoke'nPit professional. It still has some of the flaws of the Brinkmann, but it is a bit heavier duty and retains the heat better than the lower models. But yes, it is a Brinkmann.

I do use lump to start and light it with my trusty torch :) Once things are going I use sticks. This will be the first "smoke" of the year and we'll be using some wood that we've got leftover from last year. On hand we have hickory and cherry.

I have the "in lid" temperature probe, a thermometer in the meat and a probe at grate level. A move the entire smoker to an exact location that permits remote readings. The location? Ummm...through the window.

In my smoker at work...I could hold a temperature pretty well (assuming we aren't interupted for too long). But I've never tried to hold a temperature over 300f...I guess I'll see how it goes. I am thinking of getting one of the ceramics to use at home, maybe the GrillDome. I've heard that the ceramics are extremely versatile and give consistant results, but the few times I've tried to smoke on a WSM I didn't do so well. With the off-set smokers that I've used I do so much better regulating the temperature.

The meat is a decent choice, cap on, 1/4" fat on. No bone. We also have a monster Viking stove at work too, there'll be plenty of room :lips:

post #5 of 12
Sounds like you have a plan. But, at the risk of giving advice gratuitously...

Smokin' Pit Pros have been around forever. They're known as SnPPs in barbecue land.

SnPPs need a few mods to work their best. 1. A baffle at the firebox opening, in the cookchamber side. 2. An extension for the flue, so the inside opening is at the upper cooking grate height. 3. A Maverick ET-73 thermometer as described in the previous post. 4. A water pan (preferably a loaf pan) in the cook chamber. 5. A charcoal basket (made of expanded metal). And, 6. A drip pan below the cooking area (does that count as a mod? Maybe not). Each of these makes a big difference. If you can manage to tighten up your small offset a little -- you can cook as well as the bigboys.

It takes about two hours to do the mods. Not counting the basket and the thermometer, you're looking at around $20. The basket will probably cost you about $20 to wire together (or weld if you can do your own welding). The thermometer is worth every nickel. I can't tell you how much better it makes the experience.

I'd rate the charcoal basket and thermometer as the top two. The thermometer is obvious -- you get an accurate reading of everything important and your not tied to the cooker. The basket gives you a much longer lasting fire, which burns at a steadier temp. "Longer lasting" doesn't only mean more convenient, but more efficient. You burn less charcoal. Steadier temp means you cook better. Because the air-flow efficiency is improved, you can also run a hotter fire. On the negative side -- 15 minutes and 15 bucks.

If you're interested in a FAQ and set of instructions on all of these, except for the Maverick thermometer, I'll hook you up with a link. In fact: http://www.bbqinstitute.com/SmokerModifications.pdf I suggest not bothering with the thermometer mod, just buying a Mav ET-73 instead.

Also, here's a little more on simple on modding an SnPP and making a charcoal basket, but more for the guy who can weld than the guy who can barely find the hardware store: index

SnPPs do not make very good stick burners. A "stick burner" is an offset which burns logs only -- no charcoal. The best way to get smoke and heat from your little offset is to mix chunks of hardwood with your hardwood lump charcoal. Preferably in a basket. The reasons SnPPs (and small offsets in general) do not make good stick burners is because of the small firebox size. Small fireboxes mean small sticks. Small sticks burn fast, drop a lot of heat when they burn down, and need constant tending. Also, small fireboxes are incredibly sensitive to bad and green wood. A small flaw can wreck a big roast. Big offset fireboxes have very different airflow and not only are they more resistant to these sorts of problems -- some very good barbecures only use green wood. Go figure.

WSMs take a little experience, but not much. They're very tight, have good fireboxes, and excellent airflow control. Really excellent. It takes a little while to learn the ins and outs of the vents, but once you know ... gangbusters. As good as they are, they're not the perfect cooker for everyone. But if you want to get some insight about how to use one well, check out The Virtual Weber Bullet - For the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker enthusiast It's not only a fantastic site for WSM owners, it's one of the best barbecue sites period. Enjoy.

The ceramics are great all-round grill/smokers. However if you're serious about grilling and smoking there are better ways to do each. The really limiting factor on the ceramics is size.

Like you, I prefer a small offset. I've been running one or another since New Braunfels first widely marketed them in the seventies. I also worked for a barbeque caterer, featured smoked foods as part of my own catering, and was involved with a couple of Q comp teams. In fact, the "Boar DeLaze" moniker was created as a name for a team I tried to put together.

Passionate about the Q,
post #6 of 12
I started out wit the SnPP, to save on cooking rack space I moved the stack to the end of the pit away from the firebox and down to grate height. Local welding shop did the mod for a couple racks of ribs. Instead of the charcoal basket I took 2 charcoal grates and turned them 90 degrees and laid them across the firebox. This raised the grate an inch or so allowing better airflow under the grate and more space for ash. I also had the firebox side door welded shut, mine had huge gaps and it was impossible to control the fire. I added charcoal from the top lid. The last mod was bending the firebox and cooking chamber doors so they fit better and I added fireplace gasket to both to get it to seal better. When I upgraded to the Klose I gave the SnPP to a friend who is still using it.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
The rib roast turned out real good :lips:

All of the tips sound easy enough to implement.

I'm so glad smokin' season is here. I ended up smoking the roast until about 90f and then finished in the oven.

Thanks a bunch!
post #8 of 12


Can you recommend a rub for the roast we put on the smoker? (We are using the KomodoKamado smoker, and have great temperature gauges...so, hoping to do the entire thing on the smoker)

Many thanks!

post #9 of 12

Speaking of, is a rib roast good if it's smoked or does the smoky flavor detract from the mildness and tenderness of the meat?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #10 of 12
Smoked prime rib is wonderful. Smoke does not detract from luxury cuts of beef at all. Rather it's a delicious, complimentary "spice." The "texture" of inherently tender cuts beef, including rib, isn't an issue as long as you don't overcook.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/23/11 at 12:49pm
post #11 of 12

Smoked prime is great.... New York strip also....Clean it very well,, leave a small amount of fat, heavy coating of cracked black pepper, garlic & kosher salt, smoke high heat to MR.... makes great French Dips!

post #12 of 12
I agree with everything Buba said, and that his "how to" works well.

Hot is one good way. My new smoker holds any temperature from 215 to 300F steadily, and I do the luxury beef cuts -- including whole tenderloins, bone in or boned rib roasts, big pieces of sirloin, etc. -- at around 275 all the way through, cooking to rare and get spectacular results. However, some smokers won't hold a consistent high or even medium temp. If memory serves KK uses a small Brinkmann (aka "ECB") type, one of the many which will not. Not to worry, you can go low and slow all the way through; or even start slow in the smoker, and take it to the oven once the roast has absorbed enough smoke. The good cuts are very adaptable, you can make almost any smoker work well.

Any rub you normally favor for beef will work. As with any large cut, it's important not to under-season. For smoked prime rib, in addition to my "basic beef rub," I like to use a lot of fresh rosemary and thyme. The herbs do very well in the "bark" (the crust you get from cooking in a smoker. For the same reason, I like to use a Dijon mustard/mayo/Worcestershire slather under the rub. A good trick with rib roasts, if you like lots of seasoning, is peeling back the cap, seasoning between it and the eye, and tying the cap back on.

ChefBuba hit the nail on the head in regard to the fat on top. You don't want much because it will block the penetration of smoke into the meat; but you do want a little because it's delicious.

I usually serve these sorts of smoked cuts with a jus made from stock seasoned with shallot, garlic and rosemary, tightened with a little tomato paste, reduced with madeira and/or cognac, then butter mounted. Or, with a cold sauce made from creme fraiche, mayo, green peppercorns, a touch more dijon and healthy dose of horseradish. Or, both.

Lots of ways to skin each of the various cats involved; and because the meat itself is so good and so forgiving there's very little -- beyond overcooking -- you can do wrong.

Approach with confidence!

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