The 3-2-1 Method Doesn't Work For Me

Discussion in 'Pork' started by jberenyi, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. jberenyi

    jberenyi Newbie

    Well I have been smoking my fair share of ribs since getting my Green Mountain Daniel Boone smoker.  Every time I try the 3-2-1 method my ribs get way over done and black on the bone side.  I set my smoker for 225 deg F and do it like everybody else and it does not come out right.  I live at 4500 ft above sea level and I think 225 deg is too freakin' hot for use guys in the Rockies but that's my opinion.  Last night I tried it one more time but only put them wrapped in foil  in the smoker for 1 hour.  They still got black on the underside and too over done.  I guess I'll have to lower my temp to 200 deg and try it again.  Thoughts anyone?
  2. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome from SC. It's good to have you on this great site. Are you smoking spare ribs? If you're smoking baby backs, 3-2-1 is too long. Have you checked the calibration on your therms? You need to check them in boiling water, adjusted to your elevation. When smoking, do you have your exhaust vent fully open? If not, you could be trapping dirty smoke in your CC. Are you using well seasoned wood or charcoal? Is your fuel dry? Maybe some other folks will come along with other ideas. Good luck, Joe
  3. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What Joe said, plus...

    Getting black on the underside? What are you rubbing with? Where is the heat source?

    Also, edit your title to show "doesn't" work for me. You may get more replies.
  4. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for the add, Buzz
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Good advice so far. To add to whats been said, 3-2-1 is for beef ribs or pork spare ribs, 2-2-1 is for pork baby backs. Both of those times are figuring a smoker running 225-250. The times are also an estimate. Maybe try 2.5-1.5-.5. Personally I don't like to foil pork ribs so I run them the whole time on the grate no foiling. For beef ribs I feel that they benefit from the braising stage that they get in the foil.

    As for the 225 being to high for ribs, that's about as low as you can go and get them done safely. I actually smoke mine at 325°, and they take about 3 hours total time (naked no foiling).

    Pellet smokers are notorious for temp swings. The heat ramps up then drops then ramps up then drops, same thing happens with most electric smokers. Another thing that pellet smokers can have happen is that the fan can dry things out faster. You really need to get a good remote therm to test the accuracy of your smokers settings. Its very possible that you are running higher than what it says. My friend has the same smoker you have and he is 25°-35° degrees above what the setting is.

    For therms look at the Maveric 732 or 733, or the iGrill2. I own the iGrill2 and the Mav732. the iGrill is spot on accurate the Mav732 probes are a couple degrees off  which is just fine. 5-10 degrees off is okay for pit probes but not for food probes.

    Here's a good read for testing temp probes and a calculator for adjusting for altitude and barometric pressure.

    As for the black bones. Does your rub contain sugar? Sugars burn easily and I leave them out of my rubs. My go to for ribs is salt, pepper, onion, garlic (AKA SPOG) and chipotle powder. I don't sauce my ribs but my boys like there's sauced so they get sauce for the last 30 minutes or so and the sauce contains enough sugar.

    Another issue could be that you aren't getting a clean burn and creosote is your problem. Vac out the pellet pit prior to every smoke. When I had a Traeger that I was testing I noticed that the burn wasn't always clean. Vac-ing out the pit helped.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  6. I have the same smoker and dirtsailor2003 is correct. The temp that the smoker reads is higher than internal temp. I run a maverick which is only a couple of degrees off and my Mav will read around 225 when the smoker reads 185. I never called to try to get it fixed because as long as I know that the temp was off I knew how to set it. I did hear that GMG has outstanding customer service so they might be worth calling if you want to get that fixed once you figure out how far it's off.
  7. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    I have to disagree with the comments regarding temp swings with pellet grills. Perhaps the older models, but with the units today - RecTec!, PelletPro, Yoder, Blazen - with the higher quality PIDs thay hold temps within a 5 deg swing.

    I do my baby back, unwrapped, with the temp set at 160 deg. Smoke for around 4 hours. Then turn up the heat to 325 or move to the gasser to finish off and set the sauce.

    Sailor makes a good point, Make sure the ash pot is clean. Also, have you removed the membrane from the back side of the ribs? If not give that a try next time.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
  8. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As has been said above the 3-2-1 is just a guide and it will depend on a number of factors - including the size of your ribs. Some racks of pork ribs I get I am convinced are from dinosaurs and others from mice. Maybe a slight exaggeration but the smaller ribs do take less time. Most of my ribs though (even the biggest) are done in 3:2:0.5. My smaller ones usually get 3:2.5:0.5

    A couple of comments on replies above.
    I agree with everything that Joe says except for the vent. When I cook (even on the pellet smoker)  I usually keep the exhaust vent 1/4 open as it helps to keep a more even IT in the cooking chamber. The thing about trapping dirty or stale smoke is a common myth and most automated temperature controllers that I have used tell you to partially close the exhaust vent when you use them.
    On my Davy Crockett my internal temperature (read from my 732) is actually hotter than the temperature recorded by the built in DC probe. Like formerjarhead I just adjust for this when setting the cooking temperature. The thing to take away from this discussion is that the built in probe may not be accurate and so it is always worth putting in a second probe.
    I do not have a problem with temperature swings on my DC - but the DB may be different. What I do get though s a temperature gradient between top and bottom of the meat when I am cooking something quite large. The bottom is usually hotter and so can colour quicker. To overcome this I usually sandwich a wire cake cooling rack between 2 metal metal baking trays and cook the meat on top of that. This is especially a problem when cooking ribs flat without regular turning, but it can be overcome by cooking them vertically in a rib rack with some tinfoil placed underneath as a heat shield.

    Yes, sugar in the rub could be part of your problem, especially if the DB is running hotter than you think. As dirtsailor recommends leave it out of your initial rub but you can add it back for the last hour of cooking where it will still caramelise.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016

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