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3,2,1 method for ribs

parrotheadmt

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Hi just finished building a smoker out of an old steel fridge. I purchased a smoke daddy pellet hopper for it, I smoked my first couple of racks in it this weekend. It held 225 within 5 degrees for the whole smoke. My problem is when I took them out of the foil after the 2-hour wrap part was they were falling apart. these were full spare ribs and this has never happened to me before using any of the other smokers I have owned. Should I just reduce the wrap in foil part by an hour?
 

Brokenhandle

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What were you using for thermometer? Is it accurate? Almost sounds like it was higher than 225

Ryan
 

boykjo

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First off Welcome to smoking meat forums. First I would verify temp in the chamber with a remote therm and check for hot spots. When foiling, after the first hour probe your ribs every 15 minutes. They can go from tough to falling apart quick. 180-185 is where I take them out to finish open with a light glaze of bbq sauce. Finish out at 190 to 195 or do a bend test.

Boykjo
 

schlotz

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My first question would be what are you using to measure grate temps?
 

thirdeye

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After you get your cooking temps confirmed, start working on particular techniques. The 3-2-1 times are for the full belly slabs, but any of the "number ribs" recipes are flexible and can be adapted to loin back ribs or St Louis trimmed racks.... and pit temp is a factor. So you might find you like 2-2-1 ribs, or 3-2-0 ribs or any other combination.
 

boykjo

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Some more good info.


Boykjo
 

forktender

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After you get your cooking temps confirmed, start working on particular techniques. The 3-2-1 times are for the full belly slabs, but any of the "number ribs" recipes are flexible and can be adapted to loin back ribs or St Louis trimmed racks.... and pit temp is a factor. So you might find you like 2-2-1 ribs, or 3-2-0 ribs or any other combination.
I've ate more mushy ribs at friends houses because they're googling of the 3,2,1, method on amazing ribs. com.

I don't wrap ribs, 90% of the time they are done in 3-4 hours unwrapped smoking them at 250-270*

Like cooking anything else recipes are just a guideline nothing is set in stone, you can't just walk away and expect them to turn out perfect every time. You have to check them throughout the smoke and pull them at the doneness that you like. The 3-2-1 has destroyed more ribs than anything ever printed about how to cook ribs in my opinion.
Try smoking them unwrapped next time.

Good luck.
Dan
 
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sawhorseray

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The 3-2-1 has destroyed more ribs than anything ever printed about how to cook ribs in my opinion. Try smoking them unwrapped next time.
Good luck. Dan

I agree with Dan 100%! I tried wrapping a rack of spares for the first, and only, time a few months back. Ended up with FOTB after the 3-2, never got to the "1", I'll never wrap again, I'm never in a rush when smoking meat, I love smoke flavor, it's why I've got a offset. RAY
 

whistlepig

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For baby backs 2-2-1 is pretty foolproof and I smoked some excellent ribs using the 2-2-1 for years. Better than I could get in any restaurant.

Recently I started smoking my baby backs without foiling. I like the texture of the meat better ( a little firmer) and without the foiling the ribs get more smoke flavor. I do spritz frequently (every 15 minutes). The ribs are not dry but drier than when finished with foiling. Those that are foiled have more moisture and tenderness. I do use a Smoke ll with a needle probe and smoke to an internal temp of 185-190 degrees. Foil or not.

Both of these ways are good and I don't recommend one way over the other but I was missing something over the years by foiling.
 

thirdeye

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I've ate more mushy ribs at friends houses because they googling the 3,2,1, method on amazing ribs. com.

I don't wrap ribs 90% of the time they are done in 3-4 hours unwrapped smoking them at 250-270*

Like cooking anything else recipes are just a guideline nothing is set in stone, you can't just walk away and expect them to turn out perfect ever time. You have to check them throughout the smoke and pull them at the doneness that you like. The 3-2-1 has destroyed more ribs than anything ever printed about how to cook ribs in my opinion.
Try smoking them unwrapped next time.

Good luck.
Dan
YES! If you follow a recipe, you can only make one dish, If you understand technique you can make hundreds of recipes. And yes, keep your eye on those ribs.
 

Brokenhandle

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What boykjo boykjo posted in that link is what I've followed for doing ribs for quite awhile and has never disappointed! We don't care for ribs fall off the bone. But you will need an instant read therm for checking temps of ribs. My family always loved them! But with that said, the last two weekends I've done ribs unwrapped and they loved them too. One way isn't better than the other...it's all about how you like your ribs, trial and error. I'd suggest getting a digital therm, I mainly use a thermo works smoke with 2 probes, one probe for smoker temp on grate by meat and one probe for internal meat temp (for ribs I don't use meat probe therm. That's where instant read therm comes in). Keep on trying and you will get it down pay!

Ryan
 

Fueling Around

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I don't wrap ribs.
Wrap stops the smoke.
Wrap means you boil the ribs? Yes, if you add any liquid, it will foil boil the ribs.
The bend test works well. Pick up the rack with tongs. if it rips, you have fall off the bone. Work back from that point.
 

forktender

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What boykjo boykjo posted in that link is what I've followed for doing ribs for quite awhile and has never disappointed! We don't care for ribs fall off the bone. But you will need an instant read therm for checking temps of ribs. My family always loved them! But with that said, the last two weekends I've done ribs unwrapped and they loved them too. One way isn't better than the other...it's all about how you like your ribs, trial and error. I'd suggest getting a digital therm, I mainly use a thermo works smoke with 2 probes, one probe for smoker temp on grate by meat and one probe for internal meat temp (for ribs I don't use meat probe therm. That's where instant read therm comes in). Keep on trying and you will get it down pay!

Ryan
I've heard of guys that cook ribs to an internal temp but it doesn't make sense to me.
(If it's working for you keep doing it.)

My thing is almost all meat is done when it's done and not done when a thermo tells you that it should be done unless you are cooking/grilling/roasting to Rare, Med, Med Rare or Well Done as you do for steaks or to see if chicken or turkey is done.

As far as BBQ goes most of us are shooting for tenderness which can't be determined by a thermo/temperature unless you are just using the thermo it as a tenderness probe. I use bamboo skewers instead of a thermo on most of my smokes mainly because they are cheap and disposable and I really don't need to know the internal temp, I need to know when it's " fork tender" which is what gave me the idea for my forum name.

But like I said if it works for you stick with it, there is no right or wrong way as long as you and your friends and family are happy with the results/outcome.

Happy smoke'in
Dan:emoji_thumbsup:
 

Khrakk

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I prefer my ribs unwrapped. My wife likes fall-off-the-bone ribs, so I usually do a compromise. I smoke my ribs until I'm am satisfied with the color, crust (dont really get crust on my ribs though), and the smoke level; then I throw them in a couple brownie pans, add some bbq sauce, then cover the pans with foil and throw them in the oven. Doesnt "boil" the ribs as some described, but does allow them to get tender-er.

I recently read an article that describes a 3-1-1 method as an alternate method. I'll try to find the article and will post a link. Allegedly, the 3-1-1 does not result in fall off the bone ribs, but they are supposed to be tender and juicy. I also read that a lot of competition rib pitmaster do not wrap their ribs either. It may have been the same article though.

Think I want to try the 3-1-1 this weekend maybe.
 
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Inscrutable

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I started out doing the 3-2-1 and most of the time got FOTB. Then stopped wrapping like some others here have said, cooked to IT. Better results, but not entirely consistent. Discovered the SmokinAl method, and that has worked very well. I will occasionally not wrap at all to get a ‘barkier’ outer texture a la Memphis dry rub (my preference), or foil longer if have a more ‘Juicy/FOTB’ crowd.

At the end of the day, its ALL eminently edible :emoji_yum:
 

thirdeye

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I prefer my ribs unwrapped. My wife likes fall-off-the-bone ribs, so I usually do a compromise. I smoke my ribs until I'm am satisfied with the color, crust (dont really get crust on my ribs though), and the smoke level; then I throw them in a couple brownie pans, add some bbq sauce, then cover the pans with foil and throw them in the oven. Doesnt "boil" the ribs as some described, but does allow them to get tender-er.

I recently read an article that describes a 3-1-1 method as an alternate method. I'll try to find the article and will post a link. Allegedly, the 3-1-1 does not result in fall off the bone ribs, but they are supposed to be tender and juicy. I also read that a lot of competition rib pitmaster do not wrap their ribs either. It may have been the same article though.

Think I want to try the 3-1-1 this weekend maybe.
You hit the nail squarely on the head.... try and become a good enough cook that you can please everyone every time.

Cooking by time is as inaccurate as using a thermometer to gauge doneness. Watching the color and probing are better indicators. The "number ribs" like I mentioned above is just a way that cooks can talk to other cooks, I don't think I've ever had ribs wrapped for 2 hours and I rarely return ribs to the pit for more than 10 minutes.

Competition rib cooks like the ones that cook at Reno, or at a peoples choice contest often do not wrap because they are cooking 20 racks or more. In fact some have open top grills because they are sort of bar-b-grilling the ribs. Some don't remove the membrane because they use it for protection against the heat. Barbecue restaurants don't usually wrap either, they just don't have the time.

Competition cooks (like KCBS competitions) that turn in all 4 barbecue meats almost always use a wrapped step, because the rules describe in detail what the judges look for when scoring. And frankly they don't shy too far away from what's expected from the judges. Some teams that are cooking very hot on drums are getting away from wrapping, or using a very short wrap time, and in the end they are all trying to give a judge one good bite. I'm a certified Judge, and I cook too, but I don't make full blown competition barbecue at home. In fact I rarely use sauce at home. I prefer a Memphis style dry rib, but I use a wrapped step and a boat step, here is what a typical backyard rack of mine look like.
aetiRgZ.jpg
For competition, I cook them almost the same, but the flavor profile is a little sweeter for judges, and of course I glaze the sauce since one score is for appearance.
6nXcrqW.jpg
 

schlotz

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To me, FOTB takes the meat past its prime flavor window, ie the meat loses some flavor due to the wrapped cooking used to achieve FOTB. Now if that's what the crowd is expecting, by all means make 'em FOTB.

Personally, I stopped wrapping years ago after only a couple of tries. It took up a bunch of time and for me it served no purpose since great results can easily be accomplished without the fuss. Since then determination of doneness has remained with color, pull back, bend and toothpick. Old school, maybe, but the flavor and clean bite through are consistently there. JMTC
 

thirdeye

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To me, FOTB takes the meat past its prime flavor window, ie the meat loses some flavor due to the wrapped cooking used to achieve FOTB. Now if that's what the crowd is expecting, by all means make 'em FOTB.

Personally, I stopped wrapping years ago after only a couple of tries. It took up a bunch of time and for me it served no purpose since great results can easily be accomplished without the fuss. Since then determination of doneness has remained with color, pull back, bend and toothpick. Old school, maybe, but the flavor and clean bite through are consistently there. JMTC
Usually the folks that prefer FOTB like baby back ribs. It's that combination of naturally tender ribs to begin with, hardly any prep, which means the cook is easier and takes less time. They are also the choice for some chain restaurants and folks like to duplicate that style of rib at home.

I might agree that getting the ribs to the FOTB level via wrapping can weaken the flavor, but if you take care, wrapping will add flavors. I think Harry Soo has one of the best videos that covers the wrapped step on ribs. He presents about 15 things to choose from that can go into the wrap. It's a long way from guys like Bill Millroy (Texas Rib Rangers) who were wrapping ribs in the 1980's. One of the items I generally add is a splash of rice wine vinegar. To me, the increase in acidity wakes up some of the other flavors I have going on.

All that said, the style each of us likes is very subjective. Some of the best ribs I've ever had were St Louis spares, not wrapped, cooked over pecan hardwood coals and the only seasoning was garlic salt. These are served with no sauce. I make them a couple of times a year.
7IsLL.jpg
 

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