Abandoned 3-2-1 method

Discussion in 'Pork' started by burgerbob, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. burgerbob

    burgerbob Smoke Blower

    I've been using the 3-2-1 method for smoking my ribs for quite a while now and always produced an excellent rack of ribs.  Although they always seemed to come out "overdone", as in the meat was actually falling off the bone rather than it being "competition" style BBQ where the meat stays on the bone but there is a slight tug to pull the meat away from the bone.  I became tired of eating my ribs with a fork, this was not the proper way to eat them.

    Baby back ribs were on sale at a local grocery store for some ridiculous price.  I believe I paid around $15 for two racks of ribs, with each weighing around 3.25-3.5 lbs. So I figured if I screwed these ones up I could go back and get more. I prepared the ribs the same way I always do.  I washed them off, patted them dry, then removed the membrane on the backside of the ribs.  I rubbed the ribs down with a thin layer of yellow mustard then sprinkled on my standard pork rub.  I wrapped them in plastic wrap and threw them in the fridge for a couple of hours.  

    I'm smoking on a UDS so I started prepping my smoker around 10:15-10:30 a.m.  At this time I took my ribs out of the fridge to warm up.  Filling the charcoal basket with lump charcoal and a mixture of apple and hickory wood, mainly apple. Got my charcoal chimney going, then after that was ready I started the smoker up.  Around 11:30 a.m. I was at my proper temperature (225 degrees) and it was holding so I put my ribs on the smoker meat side up.  I let the ribs smoke for about 1-1.5 hours, after that I started spritzing them with the Slaughterhouse spritz (http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/172799/slaughterhouse-recipes) every 30 minutes on the dot.  It was fairly easy to see where there were dry spots on the ribs so I made sure those areas got sprayed first.  Around 3:00 p.m. (3.5 hours in) I started to check the ribs with the bend test (http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/165426/lightbox/post/1200715/id/163800).  Around 4:15 p.m. the ribs were showing signs of being close to done.  I took them off the smoker and got the temperature up a little higher, around 275-300 degrees.  I spread some BBQ sauce on the ribs, both meat side and bone side so they had a thin layer of BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce).  After that I put the ribs back on the smoker, meat side down, for about 30 minutes to help caramelize the BBQ sauce a little then I flipped them to be bone side down for another 30 minutes.  After that I removed them, I wrapped them in aluminum foil and let them rest for approximately 30 minutes.  

    Conclusion.... I'm never going back to the 3-2-1 method again.  These ribs were "competition style", you could bite into the meat, see your teeth marks and barely have to pull the meat away from the bone.  I was so happy to be eating ribs the way they were supposed to be eaten rather than having to eat the meat with a fork after it fell off the bone.  The family absolutely loved them and said these were the best ribs I've done so far.  I really wish I would have gotten more photos but was too excited to eat and forgot to take more.

    Right before I applied BBQ sauce

    Plated and ready to eat

    Leftovers to make work colleagues jealous of my lunch

    bearcarver, b-one, joe black and 3 others like this.
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Tasty Looking ribs!

    I am a no foil smoker and prefer to smoke my ribs naked all the way until they are done. Well at least pork ribs. Beef ribs really benefit from the braise in the foil. I very rarely sauce mine. If I do its for the kids.
  3. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Nicely done.
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Glad you found a method you like and they do look great. Just for other readers...3-2-1 is a guideline and not cut in stone. If your ribs are too tender, cut the middle 2 hours in foil down to 1.5 or less, as this is when the Braising Process is knocking the Heck out of the Connective Tissue. Less time in Foil = More Comp' style Bite off the Bone...JJ
  5. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    BB, good looking ribs !
  6. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    And BurgerBob---Your Ribs look Awesome !![​IMG]------------[​IMG]

    Now you got a way that works good for you. [​IMG]

    When it comes to Ribs, Size Matters!!

  7. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Bob, Your ribs look great. I read in your post that they were baby backs. The 3-2-1 method is actually for spare ribs. If you're foiling, baby backs are cooked at 2-2-1. I'm with you and Case, I don't foil my ribs and haven't for several years. Mine are smoked at 250-275* as that's where my smoker likes to run. I usually get a good bend at about 3 hours. Then I sauce/glaze twice for 15 minutes each time. You might want to cut your time back just a little bit. You will get a little more tug. Just try it and see. It's all trial and error.

    Your ribs looked awesome and the color was great. Joe. :points:
  8. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Tasty looking ribs! Change can be good it's all art of the fun!!
  9. burgerbob

    burgerbob Smoke Blower

    Thanks for all the suggestions and compliments. Experimenting is the best part.
  10. matchew

    matchew Smoke Blower

    Good looking ribs, brother! I started smoking without foiling and prefer them that way myself. However, I foil when I'm cooking for my wife due to she liking "fall off the bone" ribs and not having to bite the meat off the bone. She does wear the pants in the family..... the pants I wanna get into, if you know what I mean.....
  11. Look fantastic. I just recently got into the smoking and have heard a great deal about the 3-2-1 and 2-2-1 methods. It's interesting to hear about variations and altogether different methods. Thanks for sharing.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N900A using Tapatalk
  12. sauced

    sauced Master of the Pit

    Great looking ribs!! Same here...the Mrs. loves the fall off the bone ribs, so you can guess how I have to cook them. lol
  13. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Great looking ribs!

    Nice job!

  14. ndwildbill

    ndwildbill Smoke Blower

    Nice job...great looking ribs.  I'm with you, ribs should not be eaten with a fork!  I rarely foil mine, except when cooking for someone I know wants the "fall off the bone." [​IMG]
  15. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Great job on those ribs!  Great color and smoke ring.  How hard is temp control when opening every 30 minutes to spritz?


  16. burgerbob

    burgerbob Smoke Blower

    I didn't have any issues with temp control at all. Obviously the temp dropped some when I opened the lid but it gets back up to temp pretty quickly and usually stays pretty even. The lid is only off for less than 30 seconds.
  17. schlotz

    schlotz Meat Mopper

    Long time no-foiler here as well Bob [​IMG].  Your photos and decription sound spot on. Heck it's only 9:45am here and already you've got me hungry [​IMG]

    While it does come down to personal preference, many who say they like 'fall-off-the-bone' haven't been exposed to premium smoked ribs. The phrase has been used so long that it's taken on a defacto definition many believe is the mark for good ribs. Argh!!! Agree with others, wrapping can be used effectively but for me it requires more attention and frankly eats into good [​IMG]  time!

    Glad you found a solution that works 'cause that's the most important aspect!
  18. Awesome! Thanks for your thorough walkthrough. I have only done ribs and butts with a foil step. Now I really want to try without. Probably tomorrow!
  19. wo44

    wo44 Fire Starter

    Great looking ribs ----man o man do I have A LOT to learn now that I'm waiting for my smoker to get to my house

    3-2-1--2-2-1, foil or no foil - ohhhh man
    pauladelaine likes this.
  20. burgerbob

    burgerbob Smoke Blower

    These forums are full of great information. Do some research and try different methods. You'll figure out what works best for you as everyone is different.
    wo44 likes this.

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