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I don't enjoy cleaning the water pan after a cook on the WSM even if it has been foiled. Neither do I like sand in the water pan. Today I tried something different that worked well and am sharing it with anyone interested. I have a ceramic pizza stone that I bought for a large Big Green Egg several years ago. Today, instead of using a water pan, I placed the pizza stone on top of the bottom cooking rack and used it to diffuse direct heat. On top of the stone, I placed five wadded pieces of foil. On top of the foil balls, I placed an empty, foiled water pan to catch drippings from babybacks I cooked. Obviously, the ribs were all cooked on the top cooking rack.
Cooked the ribs two hours, then one hour foiled, then another half hour unfoiled, then sauced them and cooked fifteen additional minutes. Took'em off, wrapped'em in foil and a heavy towel, and held them for an hour before slicing them for dinner. Some of the meat was falling off the bones, i.e. cooked a tad longer than necessary, but extremely juicy and flavorful.
Won't have a messy water pan to clean up :-)! The thing that caused me to try the stone was that the Big Green Egg uses a ceramic "plate setter" to diffuse direct heat and a pizza stone is about the same thing, i.e. same thickness, about the same diameter, just right for a WSM. Works great, try it.
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