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Do BBQ joints wrap their ribs?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I remember seeing one video on Youtube where the pitmaster had a bunch of ribs and foils piled up and wrapping them. I'm wondering how common is that because from the majority of videos I get the impression that most place don't do that, right?

post #2 of 13

Whenever I go to Dickies BBQ - they pull their meats out of a warming oven, unwrap them (saran), and then portion the meat.  I usually get brisket or ribs so i can't comment on other meats.

post #3 of 13

To me, it really depends on if you like your ribs with a crunchier bark and slightly dryer, which you will get if you don't wrap them in foil after 3 hours.


I have smoked a lot of ribs over the last 3-4 years without wrapping them and they usually turned out fantastic (overcooked a couple).  I think it is important to mop and/or spray them pretty frequently after the first 3.5-4hrs to keep them from drying out though.


This year I've gone to the 3-2-1 method, wrapping them in foil with a generous amount of sauce for hours 4 and 5.  I feel this method improved the tenderness and juiciness of the meat. Friends that always loved my ribs commented that they were even better than in the past, so I'll be sticking with the method moving forward.


Some claim this is "cheating" because you are basically basting them in the foil.  To's all about the end result.  First 3 hours gets a nice smoke ring and the flavor to go with it.  The last hour out of the wrap and mopping or spraying gets the bark and texture you want for great ribs.


Happy Smoking!

post #4 of 13
I know Aaron Frankln, of Franklin's BBQ in Austin does. Most comp guys do as well. In fact most top level pitmasters seem to do this.

According to comp guys and others, it's about not getting too smokey or dark. Franklin and some others cook on stick burners and after a couple hours or so feel like the ribs have taken on enough smoke and have reached the odor the want. So they wrap.
post #5 of 13

I've never been to a BBQ joint in Tennessee that wrapped their ribs.....or any other meats for that matter. 

post #6 of 13
Just to be clear, I was referring to wrappng in foil or butcher paper. Not sure about Dickies wrapping in plastic. I would hope this is just for the holding period and not the art of the cooking process.
post #7 of 13
Originally Posted by tbrtt1 View Post

Just to be clear, I was referring to wrappng in foil or butcher paper. Not sure about Dickies wrapping in plastic. I would hope this is just for the holding period and not the art of the cooking process.

I've seen this at a few different places. I'm pretty sure it's to keep the finished meat from drying out while its in the warmer.

As far as wrapping, some places do and some don't. Here in the Memphis area you get both as well as some places (the Vous) that crank em out in an hour.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the insight everyone. I'd really love to make a tour to the US to learn more about this first handed, but with a new born daughter I don't suppose I can do that anytime soon. Appreciate all your input!
post #9 of 13

Whenever I eat in a BBQ restaurant in the USA I like to go behind the scenes and look to see how things are prepared. There are so many different ways - some very surprising.


Most of the restaurants I have seen have wrapped in foil for part of the cook as they are looking to produce a soft juicy rib. These are then generally placed on the charcoal grill just before serving. A couple commented that this also helped to keep their smokers cleaner with less dripping fat.


A very few have cooked completely unwrapped.


Two of them have even cooked the ribs in heat resistant "Saran" for the whole of the cook and rely on the rub for the flavour. This surprised me but to be honest their ribs tasted great too.

Edited by Wade1 - 6/14/16 at 12:00am
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Wow thanks for your input Wade! Very, very interesting!

How high of a temperature can those Saran take? Typical food grade wrap is around 200F right?
post #11 of 13

I was using the word "Saran" generically to mean plastic wrap. You would need to read the label to check that it is safe in boiling water (212 F). Good quality plastic wraps will have a melting point of between 250-290 F and so as long as it keep around 225 you will be OK. If you are unsure about a wrap then you can wrap a potato in some and place it in your smoker as a test. You would need to be careful if there was not some kind of heat stabiliser in the smoker though as even though the average temperature there may be only 225, if it is allowed to peak at say 275 then you may be eating a plastic bark :biggrin:


It would be safer to just use clear roasting bags as they will usually be OK up to 400 F. I think this was actually what was being use in the restaurants I saw even though they called it "plastic wrap". Bought in bulk for a restaurant these could work out quite cost effective.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

I see. Thanks Wade. I've never seen these baking bags in my country before, wonder if we have them. Need to look around some more!

post #13 of 13

Personally I stopped wrapping ribs quite sometime ago. To me it was just another step in the process that was not needed. This is especially true when I'm cooking for events and doing 15 to 30 racks of ribs. Too much time to wrap and unwrap all those ribs and the added expense of all the extra foil.

Comp guys do it mainly because they need a way to keep all the Parkay, brown sugar, rub, sauce and everything else they put on a rib to baste it in until the flavor of the meat is gone. :36:

Also I don't like my ribs fall off the bone or mushy. and if you really don't watch the time a rib is wrapped they will cross over to that state pretty quickly.

I also like a bit of a crunchy bark and I get that by not wrapping. Just my preference.


I'm in Minnesota so we don't really have bbq joints per say. We have Famous Daves and just recently a Dickey's. Most restaurants here serve them with a thick layer of sauce usually SBR.

I normally don't order things I make a lot of myself in a restaurant I like to get pasta's and fish or things I normally don't make myself.

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