St. Louis Ribs - 2nd try

Discussion in 'Pork' started by slidedude, Apr 29, 2014.

  1. slidedude

    slidedude Newbie

    I'm a new guy with a Masterbuilt propane smoker.

    First time I tried St. Louis ribs they came out kinda dry and tough. I had big temp fluctuations, so I think I just overdid them at too high a heat.

    This time I'm trying the 321 method. Seems I've got a better grip on the tempurature - I've been able to maintain about 220-225. I'm using a cast iron skillet with Jack Daniels barrel chips, a water pan with water and a little apple cider vinegar, and I'm adding more chips every 30 minutes or so - and spraying the ribs with apple juice when adding the chips. So far so good, but when I open the door to do this the temp drops to 190 or so, and it takes a while to get back to 220.

    I'll report back...:).....i
  2. slidedude

    slidedude Newbie

    These ribs were my best so far. Very tender, but maybe a tad underdone. I did 3 hours in the smoker, 2 hours in foil with a 1/4 cup of water mixed with dark beer back in the smoker , then out of the foil and back in for about an hour. Like I said, I would have led them to be just a little bit more done. Any thoughts? Ps> temp was right around 220.
  3. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

  4. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    Forget time, its just a guideline.  Ribs are done when they are done.  220 is a little low.
  5. slidedude

    slidedude Newbie

    OK, thanks....if 220 was a little low, a higher temp would have solved the issue with them being slightly underdone. I'll look around for other temp suggestions. 

    My intent was to use the 321 guideline as sort of a baseline, then adapt as needed for the right results. 

    So do you guys smoke for a while, then foil, then put 'em back to finish off, as is the suggestion? I understand they're "done when they're done", and I see comments about HOW to check that (toothpick, 90 degree test), but I'm curious as to which of these three sections should maybe go a little longer to get them a bit more done. After doing the 3 hour/2 hour/1 hour thing, they seemed to pass the tests and I figured they were done.

    I'm wide open to any more suggestions, and I really appreciate all the experience and info here.
  6. slidedude

    slidedude Newbie

    Sorry for the newbie question, but what's Qview? Pix of the process? I will happily oblige for the ones I do today...[​IMG]
  7. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    Yep pictures!
  8. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    Every cook, every rack of ribs will get you different results.

    Keep a notebook and keep practicing. You'll get there!
  9. slidedude

    slidedude Newbie

    I like the practicing part....:)

    I have a rack on now, and I took a picture before I foiled them. I'll take some more after the tent and before I eat 'em! Kept a journal on this one, too.
  10. buck1949

    buck1949 Smoke Blower

    Let me preface by saying I am pretty much a newbie here too. I have a dual fuel ( 2 door Masterbuilt) propane smoker also. I have done the 3/2/1 method on all my St. Louis racks and have been very pleased. My comments would be that I try to keep my temp around 235 degrees.... And I only (maybe) add chips once during the smoke, since I do stoke it pretty well when I start....some wood soaked and some dry. If you are cooking for a total of approx 6 hours that is a lot of adding chips and on top of that having the box cool down so many times when you add wood and spritz with apple juice seems like it will cause the under cooking issue you describe. Personally (my opinion only) I have never found much help in spraying too much of anything onto the meat surface, since it has a bark on it anyway. I do put apple juice in the Aluminum foil with the meat side down, when I put them back in for the 2 hour wrapped cook. Is your cooker the 2 door or single door model? Anyway 'the opinions expressed here are my own and not those of the sponsor' - :yahoo:
  11. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I have been smoking with a masterbuilt dual fuel for about 9 months... Probably used it 30 or so times already. My suggestion is to use wood chunks instead of chips. They make nice blue smoke and smoke for an hour or more depending on the size. I found that the chips burn way too fast and still catch fire even in the cast iron pan. One chunk every hour or so is more than enough and for ribs maybe the first three hours only. I'm glad you're enjoying this addicting hobby and can't wait to see some pics!
  12. buck1949

    buck1949 Smoke Blower

    What worktogthr said !!!! I meant to mention above that I actually do use a combo of both wood chunks and chips......
    Last edited: May 1, 2014
  13. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    I have a Masterbuilt dual too and the door therm is way off. Make sure you have a good digital that can tell you your actual cooking temp

    Also, use a foil pan for a water pan and I use a metal pie pan on top of the burner for wood chunks
  14. slidedude

    slidedude Newbie

    Thanks a ton, guys.

    I am doing a rack today, and running around 230 degrees. I am using a digital thermometer, an aluminum pan for water with some apple cider in it too, a cast iron skillet for the chips - I will try some chunks next time. I only smoke during the first couple of hours, and spray with some apple cider once and hour or so during the first three hours.

    I took pics this time. I'll report my recipe and procedure with pix mañana....they are resting as we speak.
    Last edited: May 1, 2014
  15. slidedude

    slidedude Newbie

    So I'm waiting for the wife to come home, but I HAD to sneak a couple of these puppies - Qview to follow...but man I think I got a lot closer. It was delish!
  16. buck1949

    buck1949 Smoke Blower

    Did wife approve? Thumbs Up OR did you get a frying pan up side the head? :biggrin: Look forward to your pictures.... Of the smoke not the bruise from the frying pan! :yahoo:
  17. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Slide, straight forward answer is that extra time in ANY of those steps would have resulted in ribs that were "a bit more done".   Also, 220 is fine for ribs, they just take longer than if you are cooking at 250 or 275.

    WRT the timing of each step, it kind of comes with experience and changes with each smoke.  Basically, the first step goes until the ribs look how you want them to look.   Talking mainly about color and bark here.    The foil step is one that shortens the cook time and gets the ribs tender pretty quick.  Too much time in the foil makes ribs mushy.   How much time they should spend in the foil depends on how "done" they were when you put them in the foil, coupled with how tender you want the finished product to be.  The last step is to firm the ribs back up and set the "bark" on them.  Also, this is when you would glaze them with sauce if you want.

    Some "what if" scenarios.     Say that at the 2.5 hour mark, my ribs "look" how I want them to look.   But, when I play with the racks, they aren't quite as tender as I want them to be at this stage.  I'll go ahead and foil them up and put them back on.  Instead of spending 2 hours in the foil, they might go for 2.25 hours.   I'll play with the racks while they are in the foil and see how they are progressing.   Again, the thing to watch for here is that you don't want them "too tender", at least I don't.   At some point, I'll decide that they've been foiled long enough and I'll remove them from the foil and put them back in the smoker to firm up.

    Another possibility is that after 3 hours, the ribs haven't taken in the color that I want.  So, I'll just go ahead and leave them unfoiled for another 1/2 or so until they get to looking how I want them to look.   At this point, I'll decide whether to skip the foiling step all together, or maybe choose that they only need about an hour in the foil.    After they have been foiled, as before, I'll play with them to see when they should come out of the foil.    Perhaps I might misjudge things and take the foil off a bit early.  No problem, just let them have some extra time in the final stage.  When they pass the test (to your satisfaction), they are ready.  :)

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