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Rib question on WSM

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
So I haven't done ribs in a long time and I wasnt happy the last time I did them. I know what the issue was, but I have some other issues to boot.

WSM or vertical smokers chime in here.

Basically I tried the 3-2-1 with spares, but I foiled meat side down. i think this made my ribs overcooked. I know how to fix that.

However since I'm running a vertical, and I have only 18" lengths on my grill (circular to boot) I find it hard to get full length racks. I did my last ribs on a rib rack and that worked ok in terms of space usage.

My questions are:

1) How do other veritcal smokers (WSM etc) do their ribs, if its 2 full racks or more?

2) I didn't like the amount of effort it took to pull 2 rib racks off the top and bottom grill, foil them, then try to fit those back in. The amount of assembly / disassembly / time off the heat was a bit too much.

Does the 6 hour no touch method work, if the ribs are on a rib rack?

I think I'd like to try the 6 hour method, but if I want to cook ribs for me and my friends, I gotta be able to fit 3-4 full racks in there somehow. I have 2 rib rack holders so that should almost be enough.

Any help is appreciated. I'll be using some Cherry Kool-aid mix I saw, and maybe the slather from my brisket recipe (dijon, pickle juice, dry msutard etc)
post #2 of 11
Skip foiling then. If you can keep your temp fairly steady at 225, and can spritz apple juice on the ribs, you don't need to foil them. I do not foil my ribs. The 3-2-1 was kind of adopted as an easy way for anyone to make tender ribs, however it has drawbacks.

I have a vertical smoker and when I am doing several racks, I'll st. louis trim them so they are all as uniform as can be, stand them up on racks, and rotate racks from top to bottom after about 3 hours.

I don't foil. I think foiling when pulling is fine, then placing in an empty cooler with towels for about an hour. That will moisturize if needed. No sense in braising or steaming ribs in foil on the smoker. Their on the smoker to smoke and tenderize.

Thats just me. Others will have a difference of opinion and will state it right after this post. :)
post #3 of 11
that's the way I did it


and that is my smoker


hope it help you a bit
post #4 of 11
I have done lots of ribs on WSM over the years.

I would trim st.louis style and trim off the small end ribs and add these with brisket bone side of trimmings to bottom rack.These are a great snack or great in beans.

Trimmings on right.

Here are 3 on a wsm that ends(smaller ribs) could have been trimmed,but didnt matter.

It is very hard to get even cook on 2 full spares laid flat on 18 inch WSM.The edges are hotter so when i did this i would start with thicker sides out and rotate.
This is why i would recommend trimming....

A 5 pound spare trimmed will weigh on average 2-2.5 pounds and i use more of a 2.5-3 hours of smoke - 1-1.5 foil- 30 minute unfoiled at 235-240 degree-this is temp my smoker likes without adjusting much-full water pan....

I foil meat side down in a mixture of ingredients.At 1 hour in foil i take a toothpick and pearce foil from top to check the resistance of meat.If i want fall-off bone the toothpick will go in and out like warm butter...

Here is a thread i did on a technique using WSM


hope this helps.If you did full spares in racks you could trim length and rotate meat 180 degree in rib racks every once in awhile.

They do make a 22 inch now that i use.it is a fuel hog,but space is not issue.

I have had similiar scores in comps foiling and not foiling.Foiling is quicker,but you can make them mushy,overcooked untill you gain experience- i never add juice and the ribs will steam/braise in own fat.The foiling is done in comps to add extra layers of flavoring,consistency of cook time etc...I can predict to within 15 minutes when i foil when ribs will be done.
post #5 of 11
Wow Alex, nice trim on those spares.
post #6 of 11
Lets just say i have had alot of practicePDT_Armataz_01_34.gif I still have 30 pounds of trimmings for sausage to use....
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks all.

I forgot to mention I'd be doing Baby Backs, not spares this time around. Is that still a 6 hour smoke (no foil)? Even if i have to cut them in 1/2 and put them in racks?
post #8 of 11
when I was using a WSM, I wouldnt cut the ribs, I would curve them on the outsides of the rack to follow the shape of the smoker, bone side out.

That is why I am hoping for a 22.5" WSM vs the smaller one later this year.

ALso I dont smoke by time, other than as a gauge, I go by look, and the feel of the ribs. If they pass the tong test(grab the ribs with tongs by about the 3rd or 4th rib bone, and if they start to bend, and the meat pulls they are done), That and pull back. My BB's take from 4-5 hours foiled for maybe the last 15 minutes is it.

hope this helps.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Cool, thanks, I'll give this a try.

When you foil, do you place them back on the rack, or stack them on top of each other without the rack?
post #10 of 11
I didnt use a rib rack, 2 slabs would fit right on the WSM rack, kind of bending them to almost form a circle with the two slabs of BB ribs along the outer edge of the WSM rack.

I put them back on the rack foiled(more like tented) individually.

I tent mine in the foil instead of wrapping tight to allow them to steam a little in the apple juice(2 tbsp maybe), honey, and rub I add to the bottom of the foil. I put the ribs in the foil meat side down. Put them back on the smoker maybe 15 minutes, and then unwrap, and let them rest on my cutting board, sometimes I apply a light glaze of bbq sauce as they rest.

good luck.

here is a website for a guy & friend who I think is the master of the WSM.

post #11 of 11
No need to cut in half. If necessary, just trim off the last 1-2 rib bones. The smallest ones on the end and smoke those directly on the rack for chef treats or add to beans. Best thing you can do to beans is toss in smoked rib pieces. Yum!points.gifAgain if you can keep temp low and moisture in smoker, you won't need foil. You'll get tear off the bone ribs that are better then foiled ribs in about 6 hours.
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