Originally Posted by natedog37
Chefrc, Thanks for all of the tip! I do have a question though, what is the purpose of wrapping the ribs in foil? What is the difference between doing this and not doing this? Thanks.
Welcome to the forum Natedog! I'm just west of you over in between I-5 and Multnomah Village.
The rib method Chefrc descibed is based on what is commonly called 3-2-1 (for spare ribs) or 2-2-1 (for baby back ribs). The first number refers to the number of hours you put the ribs in the smoker without foil, second number is number of hours with them foiled, third number is number of hours with out foil (again).
The premise is during the first three'ish hours the ribs cook up and start to form a nice bark, then you foil them and put them back in the smoker to cook some more and become tender, then you pull off the foil and and put them back on the smoker to firm up the bark again because it has gotten soft during the foiled time.
Be aware that these times are subjective to your preference of texture and tenderness. Most people end up reducing the amount of time in the foil, or skipping it all together. Me personally I like a bit of bark on the outside so I generally cook ribs without any foil, but then about 1/2 before they are done I apply a thin layer of sauce let them cook for 1/2 an hour then foil them and toss them into a cooler to rest for 1 hr. The rest time in the cooler softens the bark just a tad so it isn't crunchy, and gives the juices time to redistribute throughout the meat. If you fill the empty space in the cooler with old towels you can keep meat on hold that way for several hours.
If you do decide to foil the ribs check them about 1/2 hr. before the foiling time and what you are looking for is to see about 1/4" of pull back from the end of the bone, meaning the meat has pulled back and exposed approx. 1/4" of the cut end of the bone. That is your signal to foil. If you want super tender ribs leave them in the foil the full amount of time with a couple of good squirts of apple juice (or whatever liquid is handy) - but be warned they may be so tender that they just fall off the bone... lol. For less tender but still good reduce the foil time by 30-60 minutes.
Once you figure out how you like your ribs they are fairly simple to do, but remember each piece of meat is different and occasionally you will get a rack that behaves differently. Good luck, and we look forward to the Q-View!