3-2-1 mush?

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
OTBS Member
Jul 2, 2007
Lakewood, CO
I've had a lot of luck using the famed 3-2-1 method of cooking ribs (I do spares almost exclusively) but my problem is that by the time I get to the 1 part the ribs almost disentegrate when I pick them up. I've forgone the last step on more than one occasion and invariably my ribs come out the consistancy of a well cooked butt ready for pulling. I mean these things are so fall of the bone tender, you almost need a spoon to eat em.

My question is, I want to make ribs with more "bite" to em. How should I modify the cooking process to allow for a little more adhesion to the bones so there's something to chew on without pulling the bone out and tossing it aside? Should I maybe try a 221 method on my spares? or maybe my temp control needs work.
Braising them in foil is what makes them mushy. Just smoke them and stop playing with the foil and you won't have the problem. If you are insistent on the foil, less 2 and more 1. The main purpose of 1 is to firm them back up from 2. Strange, but somehow very popular. You will notice less 2 and more 1 increases the total smoke time with no foil.

In your new offset it will take 6-8 hours to smoke spares w/ no foil. Good luck and save your foil for leftovers.
Also if you are adding apple juice or the like to the foil you end up basically steaming your ribs. This will make them "fall off of the bone"

Leave out the juice or do not put as much in the foil with the ribs and you will find your ribs will soon be done and purfect with just a slight tub to them
Had similar luck yesterday. After two hours in foil they were so soft that I couldnt pick them up in one piece. After that I was a little afraid to leave them on for another hour. Took them off after half hour. I agree with Ultramag on the less 2 more 1. Cant wait to try again.
3-2-1 is just a guide line. They are considered overdone in Bar-B-Que competitions. But, I will add I think a majority of people prefer them this way. If I want more bite, I back off on the time in the foil. Try 1.5 then 1 if you need more, then add the extra time to the final stage.
I agree cut back on foil,unless you want to get them done quicker, and then 221 may work , remember times vary from cuts and cookers. by chance are you use ing a mustard slather, that will break down the fibers and mush things up if not watching them.
Ultramag hit it on the head. NO foil. Just do the whole thing without the foil. And spray the ribs with apple juice, or whatever you prefer.
I like some "chew", falling off the bone ribs are way over done, over cooked.
And that is my $.02.
how weird i opened this thread. i am smoking a rack of spares as i type. they have been in the smoker for 4 hours now, no foil. i do not want them to "fall off the bone" this time. look for my thread i am about to start.
Ditto - I had the same experience yesterday. It was my first time trying the 3-2-1 method. I went to take the ribs out of the foil and pulled a clean bone out of the rack. One thing I've learned so far on this forum is that this thing is more of an art than a science. Like some of the earlier posts in this thread - I think I'll cut back on the "2" step. It seems like that's where all the "falling apart" happened.
i actuallly did some 3.5-2.3/4- 2 ribs.... best i ever done... these things were not only good- they were purty..... my wifey don't even like ribs but ate 4 of them... then she said they were like soft smoked ham. looka that color.... http://s178.photobucket.com/albums/w...staimee016.jpg all i know is i'd turn these in on a kcbs platter or even better- i'd feed them to friends..... or even family ( good family)
the 2 step has a whole lot to do w/ the " spritz or soak" when wrapping... i've personally found @ 235-250(god i hate getting tech. on this)pork has enough fat to be ok- no need juicing it- thats just me- i don't spritz or juice @ 2 hrs- maybe a light squirt - wrap, then... well y'all saw the pics... i hate to say i did perfect ribs.... but the pics & taste said it all....not too much loss, tnder,texture, color, & taste,,,,
so basically just switch the 3-2-1 method to the 5-1 method is what I'm gathering from all this. I'll have to give all your great ideas a try...one at a time...hehe that way I get to eat more ribs

Thanks a lot for all your tips!
brennan - after the 3(1st stage-when the pulback - 1/2 to 1 inch- then foil_ - if ya need to... go 1.5- 3 hrs- depends on the heat- i'll say 225-235.- look ... unwrap & look- the juice will tell you........ let the last stage firm u
up- then add a sauce if need be,,,prolly great ribs the way we just said, the 3-2-1` is just a guideline.. as far as that goes... noone ever expected or new what elephant garlic is... lookas like giant figs,,,so we all learn some thing new every day.
quick question...where did elephant garlic come into the conversation?

I'm cornfused.
if yer smoking @ 235-260(damn all this technical)- depending on the weight of the rack.... it's just getting complicated to cook meat over fire... it's easier than that & quote me on this... when ya see 1/4 inch of bone... squirt it & wrap it(if thats what ya gotta do)if the pit is less than 250- after an hour- unwrap & look @ it- if it's mush- pull it & do 1-3 more hours(depending on temp). it's all preference & type of wood... mesquite will be totally different from apple doing the same recipe...
Me too, I don't think I know how to cook ribs anymore after reading page 2. I keep asking myself how much longer this is gonna go on.
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