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3-2-1, more like 3-2-0?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Alright, I've been a little shy about doing ribs before, because I've never got them to turn out right, but after reading things on here I got up the courage to finally try some spare ribs this weekend. I've got a couple pix, but I haven't downloaded them yet, so you'll have to wait on that.

Anyway, I whipped up a batch of Jeff's rub the night before and coated the ribs (I may have put it on a little thick in hindsight) and wrapped them in plastic wrap to go in the fridge overnight.

In the morning I took them out (the rub had made a gooey mess, leading me to think I put too much on) to rest on the counter while I got the smoker ready. Got the smoker up to 230 degrees with the water pan about 1/4 full, and added some hickory chips, then placed the ribs in the middle rack. After about two hours I pulled the strip of extra meat I cut off the ribs out (since it had finally reached 170 degrees) and had me a little snack. That was excellent, good flavor, nice and moist! It left me really craving the ribs.

At about the three hour point the ribs hadn't quite pulled back 1/4" but I pulled them anyway, wrapped them in foil, splashed on apple juice and let them cook for another two hours. Then I took them out and had a really hard time getting them out of the foil. They were so tender I couldn't pick them up without them falling apart. I finally got two spatula's underneath and got them transfered from the foil to the rack, and put my temp probe in. Hmm... 189 degrees? I thought I was supposed to cook them for another hour to get to 172? I thought, well maybe I'm just in a hot pocket, but everywhere I tried was around 185 degrees. So at that point I figured no use putting it back in the smoker.

So I'm thinking maybe it should be 3-1-1 instead of 3-2-1?

Anyway, I didn't think the ribs turned out quite as good as I'd hoped. Maybe the steaming in the foil washed off most of the rub, but they just didn't have much flavor. Not like the little strip I cut off did.

I'll get pics up tonight.
post #2 of 26
The last 1 in the equation is to stiffen them back up a Little
post #3 of 26
I'm with ^ LOL
post #4 of 26
Mike, I've used the 3-2-1 method quite often and it's always worked well for me. Have you checked your pit temp to insure it's correct? I've never put a temp probe in my ribs but have gone by look and feel (ok sometimes I'll cut off a rib or two to check).
post #5 of 26
Mike, I have also used the 321 method and spares and it works great. And like goose said I've also never use a thermo. Yes after the 2 hrs they will be very tender but I've always just put them back out there for 30 min to 1 hr to stiffn'em back up and sauce em. You might try what goose said and check your pit temp.
post #6 of 26
i have been using 2-2-1 and it works well for me. I do not ever take their temperature.
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
OK, well next time I'll throw 'em back in for a while anyway. My MES seems to be fairly accurate on the temp, the probe I'm using is a dual probe and it showed the temp as always within two or three degrees of what the MES was saying. So either they're both wrong, or it's ok.

Thanks everyone!
post #8 of 26
3-2-1 is a general rule of thumb for cooking SPARES, Not BB's. I'm betting you made some BB's. They are a bit smaller and don't take quite as long as spares do.
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
Could be.. I can't tell one from the other, but the package was labeled spare ribs.

post #10 of 26
Well spares the were then...but if ya do get babies.. it's more like 2-1-.5

And regardless... not by time. And I know..ya can't measure ribs. Learn... and practice.
post #11 of 26
I figure you had spares.....price ought to tell ya. PDT_Armataz_01_08.gif
At any rate, I too have had some real tender ribs at the end of the 2 hours in foil. Personally I just open the foil and do not totally remove them. Just easier for me. As another member stated, 3-2-1 is just a guideline, so adjust to your taste and remember.....practice makes perfect. PDT_Armataz_01_28.gif
post #12 of 26
yup practice-practice-practice, better get some more ribs!
post #13 of 26


I always thought 3-2-1 meant 3 beers 2 shots of whiskey and 1 big appitite!!! Just kidding. 3-2-1 is a general guideline and I have noticed when cooking on some of my friends smokers you have to make adjustments. Every cooker is a little differant and times and tempetatures will very.
post #14 of 26
Even rack is different. I've found that if I go closer to 250 degrees instead of 225, I get the pull back faster and it cuts down on the cooking time.

Putting them in foil yields a more tender rib but it's also steaming them and:

1) they arent exposed to the smoke and

2) the rub has a tendency to get steamed off to an extent.

I don't foil mine anymore.

Practice will tell you what works for you.
post #15 of 26
My ribs (separate thread here) were actually about 4/2/45 minutes. I think that my temperature was a little low because they didn't really pull back from the bones. They came out perfect--you still had to tear them a little from the bone.

I was pleased PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #16 of 26
for spares I use the 3-2-1 as a guide line and BB's 3-1-1 but usually I go by the feel of the slab. the bend if you pick up from one end and a little wiggle on the bones is the real method for me.
post #17 of 26
Hi Pitrow,
I agree with everyone...with practise you'll get real good...just watch for the pullback on the bone and as Ron 50 stated, when you pick them up with tongs you'll get to know when to move to the next step. That last 1/2 hour or so will stiffen them up some and give you the chance to baste enhancing the flavor. Works for me anyway! Good luck...don't give up. You get'er once and you'll be hooked on ribs !!!
post #18 of 26
Hey Mike,
If you want to verify the accuracy of your thermos, dip them into boiling water and they should always read 121* unless you're @ high altitude (over 5000ft).

3-2-1 is kinda like BBQ with training wheels. Any experienced pitmaster will tell you that there is no exact science to real Q. What it takes is to first learn exactly how YOU like it and then get familiar with the phases the meat goes through as it cooks. Once you do that you don't need a "formula", you will just know how much longer, when its done, etc.

The best Q only comes from people who have learned the craft. If it were all that easy, everybody would be doing it and places like Tony Roma's and Famous Dave's would've put places like Gates and Arthur Brant's out of business decades ago.

Hang in. You've already learned that you don't need to cook them that long and that you don't need to foil them (I never foil ribs). You've also learned that a gooey mess the next morning doesn't mean overseasoned ribs. You have a few more lessons to learn but you will get there.PDT_Armataz_01_36.gif
post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
Heheh... actually that's 212 degrees biggrin.gif
post #20 of 26
Along w/ years of great Q comes a fat belly. Along with a fat belly comes fat fingers. What can I say?icon_redface.gif
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