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Need help on spare ribs

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Well I finally got it done, my wood smoker that is, some of you may have seen it as it progressed under the wood smoker section. Actually its not done, still needs paint. Once its painted, I will unveil it for all to see LOL.
Heres my question. I want to fire it up by Friday and do some spare ribs we bought tonight. But I am really confused on how to go about it. I see 3-2-1 methods, and 2-2-1 and other variations of that, not sure what it all means. Also, some foil, some dont. Why is that? When you dry rub your ribs, do you still mop? Or spray with apple juice? What about bark. My take is that if you want a good bark on ribs, they need to have a layer of mustard on them. Is that correct? Or can you also obtain a bark on them from a heavy application of dry rub? Yeah I know, I should know all this by now, but most of my smoking has been centered around sausages. And I would really like some good input on this. Or, just give me something simple. A foolproof recipe and method for spareribs so they come out decent and the wife wont roll who eyes at me when they come out of the smoker. I plan on cutting the spares up St.Louis style. Thanks to all in advance.......
post #2 of 16
As far as that goes the numbers say 3-2-1 mean 3 hours in the smoker, then wrap in foil and 2 hours back in the smoker and then the last number, the 1 would be 1 hour resting.
Any 2-2-1 or 3-2-1 is always the same order just different times. So smoke, foil, rest.

I have only done ribs a few times now and always wrap in foil as do a lot of folks on here. Many others do not, but I suppose it is more of a personal preference.

Spraying with things like apple juice help a bit with moisture but more than anything it is to create a nice crust/bark on your meat. Also apple and pork are a perfect natural combination.

You don't need mustard on ribs, I know some have done it that way but the mustard is more common on things like a butt and even then it has been argued whether it adds flavor or not, but it dues add a thick bark, but on ribs you don't need a thick bark. Dry rub and some spritzing will produce a nice bark on your ribs.

Hope the little bit of info I gave you helps some and I'm sure that someone will come by and add even more knowledge to your pot if they haven't already by the time I click the submit button.

Good luck, any more questions always feel free to ask and never assume that you should already know something, even folks who have smoked for 20 years learn new things and have to ask once in a while.
Happy smokes, and I hope you make some succulent ribs.
post #3 of 16
I'm not the most experienced rib guy on here as I've only done about a dozen racks. But I'll do what I can to help. First of all read this
then read this
personally I've never pre-rubbed with mustard. I just rub em good with a dry rub, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 4-6 hours. You can go overnight if you want.
Consider the 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 a guideline as the first number means time directly on the grate of the smoker. The second number is still in the smoker but wrapped in foil and often hit with some spritz. The third number is again still in the smoker but now unwrapped.

You don't have to foil at all. Some like the meat so tender it literally falls off the bone. Some like to leave a bit of "chew" left in the meat. This is up to you. But much of that tenderness will be achieved during the foil wrapped portion of the equasion.

Sure go ahead and spritz or mop if you choose to. But if you're looking for a nice bark you may have better luck by not spritzing because that will just soften the crust. You may want to try and wait until the last half hour or so and brush them down with your favorite BBQ sauce.

Depending on how meaty your ribs are, I'd first try the 3-2-1 and see how you like it. If they're more done than you'd like try a 2-2-1 or no foil at all and just go to temp. 170-175 is a good point to pull them.

Just make sure you pull the membrane off the bone side. I left that on the first time I ever did ribs and couldn't figure out why I couldn't chew them. LOL

Best of luck to you.
PM if you have any other questions. I'll do my best to help you.

Now off to find picts of that new smoker of yours.
post #4 of 16
I was under the impression that last hour was back in the smoker. an hour of rest for ribs seems like an awful lot. (Yes, I really am too lazy to look it up)

the couple times I've done ribs 3-2-1 has seemed to be a little too long, I'm doing ribs this weekend, and was planning to shorten it a bit, gonna try 2.5-1.5-1 and see how they look.
post #5 of 16
post #6 of 16
3-2-1 is for spare ribs
2-2-1 is for baby back ribs

3 hours in the smoker-2 hours foiled in the smoker-1 hour back unwrapped in the smoker.

I use mustard sometimes and don't other times more a matter of personal preference. I spritz/mop the ribs after the first 1.5 hours each 1/2 hour. I also spritz before foiling. Sometimes I even baste with BBQ sauce the last hour. Its all a matter of what you like
post #7 of 16
i dont even foil mine anymore. cook them until they are done, spritz well through out the process.
post #8 of 16
I'm sorry, yeah, the last hour is back in the smoker.
Damned vodka I typed and got completely lost in what we were even talking about.
Sorry, so yeah, the last hour is back on the heat.
Can always count on pineywoods to set me straight PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
I knew the pro's would come thru for me. Thanks everyone. Believe me, I have looked thru the forums for hours, but with my slow dial-up service it takes forever to navigate thru all the topics. Super windy here today, so I think I will run the smoker in our barn/shop. Going to do some beans along with the ribs in a pan under the ribs and let any drippings mix with them. Cant wait. Thanks again to everyone, I always appreciate everyones input.

post #10 of 16
If you haven't done ribs before with the 3-2-1 method...
..one thing that may help is to have a pair of tongs long enough to support the entire rack.
Especially with baby backs, but also with St Louis Style, the ribs are sometimes so tender coming out ot the foil that they will literally fall apart on you when you try to take them out of the foil. It doesn't happen with full spares because the gristly(sp) part will hold it together.
Alternately you can sort of roll them out of the foil back onto the grate to keep them together.
They will toughen up a bit during the last hour, so getting them back out of the smoker is usually not as tough to keep them together.

No big deal I suppose for eating.... but they always look better to me when the rack stays intact.
post #11 of 16
Good luck. And don't forget those pictures!
post #12 of 16
I do mine 3-1.5-1.5 ---- I use mustard, but I do not put my rub on until right before the ribs go one the smoker.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ribs went on at 11:30 this morning. Still trying to maintain temps. This wood thing is gonna take some practice. I think I built my initial fire a bit too small. Oh well, live and learn. So far temps have been 240-260 about 80% of the time. A few times they went up to 350 but only for about 3-4 minutes. Will for sure post pics when she's all done.
post #14 of 16
sounds like you're off to a good start, meat-hunter!

you might want to read up on some advice from the BBQFAQ - here's a link to download a SAFE word zip file:


you can download it to your desktop and read it at your leisure. i have leared a LOT from this!

also, if you're interested, this link takes you to my method for spare ribs. you might find some good stuff there worth a try:


happy Q!!

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the link. I will check it out later this evening. I just foiled the ribs at 2 hours in instead of 3, so it looks like this is turning into a 2-2-1 instead of a 3-2-1. Put my probe into the thickes portion of the rib and had a internal temp of 170 :(. Too much too soon I think. Have them in foil right now like I said, and gave them a good spritzing of apple juice that I made this morning with my juicer. They look really good so far even thought they kinda went the other way of low-n-slow. I firmly beleive my starting fire was too small, and the coal bed was not large enough. Im going to leave these in the foil for 2 hours and if the interanl temp is still the same, I may just let them rest after that for 30 or so minutes and skip the other 1 hour of the 3-2-1. Or is that bad?
post #16 of 16
i'd say if your internal temps are above 172, then they are done ~ i woulnd't ahve them on the fire any longer than that.
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