Originally Posted by Slidedude
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.
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. :-)