St. Louis style spare ribs research

Discussion in 'Pork' started by graphicsman, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. Ive read a TON of stickies and YouTube videos on how to do spare ribs.  I have my sauces and rubs ready.  Only thing i am having problems locating is actual times.  Ive seen many threads from searches that people wait instead of probing because its hard.  They say to usually wait till they "fall off the bone".  Now are you actually taking tongs and pulling meat off the bone??  I know there is a good debate on spritzing every hour but you loose smoke in the process.  Should i just leave my ribs in my WSM for 4 hours, check, then spritz and foil until the 6th hour??  I also have read about the ribs should bend while trying to pick-up.  I didnt read any articles on how to tell if im over doing them.

    what i had in mind was leave everything in and not look for 4 hours while watching the temp every hour

    on the 4th hour spritz once

    5th hour foil and spritz

    6th hour pull out of smoker.

  2. ecto1

    ecto1 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Start with the 3-2-1 method and work from there.  It will take you a few tries to get the exact way you like it some people like more time in foil some less some glaze some like a dry rib. 

    Here is my take on the 3-2-1 method it works for me but again it is just a method some will like it some will not.

    First I buy all natural spare ribs and trim st louis style.  Make sure you remove the membrane and trim the skirt as well.  Coat with yellow mustard and add your favorite rub.  then I sprinkle raw sugar on them and let them sit about 15 minutes before I place them in a smoker.  I always use a rib rack for the first part of the smoke I smoke them for 3.5 hours and then take them out and let them sit for 15 minutes at which point I will use squazable parkey on them I brush the parkey all even then add a layer of brown sugar to the top.  At this point I double foil and place back in the smoker for 45 minutes.  Take them out and let them sit for 15 minutes before I add a light glaze to them I use a home made bbq sauce but any sauce will work.  Back on the smoker until I like the way they look should be about 30 minutes.  The key to this is the tempature of the smoker for the first part it is ok if you creep up a little. but I try to keep it steady at 225 the whole time total cook time is about 5 1/2 hours. If done right the ribs will be able to be cut with a knife real easy.  If the ribs cant be cut you probaly cooked them too long and they will be a little mushy.  When I am at home I cut back on the sugar used because it forms almost a candy glaze on top but try both ways.  When I make three racks of ribs they have dissapeared while I was cutting them so save some for yourself.  This may not work for you but use it as a starting point in your quest for your ribs.  I leaned the butter and brown sugar from watching Johnny Trigg the god father of ribs cook at a cook off the rest I picked up from this site.  If you like dry ribs use the same method but instead of brown sugar add a little more rub and raw sugar.
    tom c likes this.
  3. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A general guidline is called 3-2-1

    3 - hours cooked on the racks (no peaking, no spritzing)

    2 - hours cooked wrapped in foil with 1/4 C or less of apples juice (or beer or whatever)

    1 - hour back on the racks to cook and firm up a bit

    3-2-1 will produce very very tender ribs, generally falling apart almost. You can adjust that by changing the second number (amount of time in foil). I would suggest 1.5 hrs. there.


    if you don't want to foil then set your WSM up to run at 220° put the ribs on and leave them alone for 5 hrs. After 5 hrs. pick up a rack approx. 1/4-1/3 away from one end and lift it up off the grates, if the rest of the rack bends straight down 90° then they are done (and tender) if they do not bend down let them go another hour. This is called the bend test.

    You can't gett an accurate probe temp on ribs, so that is why we use time, texture, and eyeball on them instead. 3-2-1 is a safe place to start and get tender tastey results, untill you feel comfortable enough to try unfoiled.
  4. thanks guys!!!  i may pull a 3-2-1 with some changes but ill post up pics!
  5. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    As previously advised, I would start with the 3-2-1 without any changes.  From there you will have a better handle on what changes you might want.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  6. I think they got you covered. ECTO is a rib master.
  7. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    The bend test-

  8. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

       May I be so bold as to say,use your senses too. You can smell a sweetness from the smoker,when looked at they will have a 'sweat' on them,a little miosture showing that the juices are working. Look at your smoke,see if it is bluish or white(yuk).Listen for any sizzling,they may be drying out(usually too much salt or a inferior Rib.)

       There's a bit of work for a good Rib (headwork and babysitting) unless you have a set and forget-an (IMHO) slap in BBQ's face.

       Just sayin'

    Stan   aka   oldschool   :)
  9. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Some great advice.

    Yep, 3 2 1 as a starting point, then tweak from there.Johnny nailed it.

    Everyone's different, for example I smoke the ribs the way my family likes 'em, not how I like 'em.

    Too many opinions for any one definitive answer, this is the first thing I learned.

    I use a modified 3 2 1 when ribs are smoked for a party and will sit in a steamer pan most of the day

    I use 3 2 1 for ribs that are going to be eaten right away.

    Trim St. Louis style religiously

    Remove membrane, some folks don't

    Some folks brine ribs, I don't

    Add rub, some folks do and everyone has their own idea of rubs.

    I don't use mustard some folks do

    Do not add liquid when foiling some folks do

    Sprits/Mop... sometimes... more often than not.

    Foil in a steamer pan to catch all the drippings that are used when glazing.

    Trimmings are smoked and the trimmings with all the knuckles (for lack of a better word) are used for chili and stews.

    The bottom line is the end result, it don't matter what method you use or how you get there, just as long as the end result is satisfactory.

    There are also other methods such as the "weep method" that is very successful for others.

    Other things to consider when getting advice is the application being used, such as ... what fuel are they using, what temps are they running and what smokers are they using. I will smoke the same product differently on my GOSM as I would on my stickburner.

    Happy Smoking
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2011
  10. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I absolutely love that picture
  11. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    There you go the 3-2-1 thats all the reading you need to do....good luck...
  12. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Don't forget the Q-view!
  13. africanmeat

    africanmeat Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  14. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If it's your first one----I'd go with the ever famous 3-2-1.

    Then if you need any adjustments next time, you'll know what to do.

  15. if you sauce on the last hour does that give it enough time to caramelize?? 

  16. x3
  17. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you use a heavily sugared rub like I do then there's no need to worry about that, but some folks will glaze and setup the glaze on the smoker or grill.
  18. well after foil im looking to sauce the ribs and im wondering if this is ok to do for the last hour
  19. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Depends on what your after, some folks like a little char, some like to setup a glaze. I just slice and brush.

    So yes you can, but if it were me I would do the last half hour especially for your first run.

    225°- 235°  3 hours unfoiled in a rack  -  2 hours foiled in a pan  -  30 min unfoiled still in the pan  -  30 min glazed (bone side up) out of pan.

    Try mixing your drippings from the pan with the glaze then brush your ribs.




    I usually slice then brush, but was playing around with pics this time, trying to get a good side shot sauced on top but not the sides.


    Last edited: Sep 22, 2011
    oufan75 likes this.
  20. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Sorry Squib,Just hado show it can be done without foil and on all wood[​IMG].

    You know me,stickin' my nose where it points[​IMG]

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