First Time Smoking Baby Backs

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Original poster
May 9, 2006
Berkley, Michigan
next weekend I plan on smoking some baby back ribs ( I work this weekend :-( ), I wanted to ask the members if they had any hints or suggestions to offer the newb. I read about the 3-2-1 method to make sure I'm clear that means 3 hours uncovered smoking, 2 hours wrapped in foil, and 1 hour unwrapped with sauce applied.
As you all know the CB H20 smoker doesn't have that much suface area, so should I just cut the slabs down, or spend the money to buy some v-racks?

Thanks to all who reply,

Hi Gost, Sounds about right .. keep the temp down.. I keep the temp between 225 to 240.. The 321 method is a nice starting point for your first rack of ribs. After that you can tweek it to the way you like.
Good luck,
For baby backs, I'd also cut the time down - 6 hours is long for that cut - 2, 1.5, 30minutes worked great for me today. Did three racks on the ECB - should be the same surface area. I cut all in half and put three halves on top and three on bottom.
And I second the apple juice - put it in a spray bottle (that's never been used for cleaning supplies) and spray away just before wrapping.
Good Luck!
Gost, 2kewl has you on the right path. "3-2-1" actually references spares and BB's won't take that long. Because of important variables like pit temp and fat content of the meat, any cooking instructions based on time alone should be taken with a grain of salt.

Cook your ribs until you see the meat pulling away from the ends of the bones about 1/4" or so this indicates the ribs are ready to wrap. This first phase of the cook will take 2-3 hours depending on your pit temp.

I cook my ribs bone side down while unwrapped then bone side up in the foil. I also suggest the use of apple juice or sauce thinned by 50% with AJ while wrapped, for spares I also apply 3 or 4 nice ribbons of honey along the length of the ribs. The dish shape of the bone side holds the braising liquids (that's what you're doing during the wrapped phase is braising) and allows them to cook thru the ribs.

For BB's the wrapped part of the cook will take 1-2 hours, most likely closer to an hour again depending on your pit temp. To determine when it's time to unwrap, pick up the rack in the middle using gloves or tongs (if you use tongs excercise caution to not pierce the foil). Ribs that are ready to unwrap will be flexible and both ends will sag some(try this when the ribs are first wrapped and they'll still be fairly rigid). Getting a feel for this takes a little practice but you'll get the hang of it.

Unwrap the ribs and return to the grates. This is the time to apply sauce if you're serving your ribs "wet". Check the ribs every 15 or20 mins the last hour (peek quickly to retain heat) and spray with AJ whenever the surface begins to look dry. Cut, eat, grin really big!

Follow your own tastes on what to spray with, AJ is just a really good place to start, I know folks that spray with AJ and bourbon, cola, cherry juice (form marishino cherries(sp)) jalapeno jelly thinnned with 7-Up etc... you get the picture. I use Juicy Juice brand apple juice concentrate that comes in a 12oz soda can. The juice concentrate combines with the rub on the ribs and makes a sauce-like glaze of its own.
thanks for all the info ( that was a really detailed post Scott)...... I"m cleaning the grates right now (a self cleaning oven is a heaven send), I have 7 slabs ready to go.
Gost, I'm sort of new to this myself. The best thing I can tell you is to make sure you have plenty of time. I've had trouble getting my temps right in the past, so I've had to leave room for adjustment. You might have to get up early. :-)
jaynik, good advice!!

Gost, 7 racks in that size smoker is quite a bit of thermal load. Follow jay's advice and allow plenty of time.

unwrapped time may run3-5 hrs depending on temps and you may need close to 2 hrs in the foil (don't be afraid to do this step in the oven if it helps get the cook along, the stuff is wrapped and heat is heat)
The last hour should work ok, no more than 90 mins should do it.

Best of luck and be sure to let us know how it goes.
Gost, since you have already been given some good advice, I'll just wish you the best of luck and a successful smoke. i read this thread spit dripping from my mouth, hoping for a pic and or a scratch and sniff and nothing????? So my question is HOW DID IT TURN OUT????? all comments are good comments

ok here's the low down. I did 7 slabs, 4 I did 3-2-1 style and the other 3 slabs I just smoked straight through. Everyone loved them and said they were terrific (most preferred the ribs I smoked straight through). I had 2 issues with the ribs

1. They weren't smokey enough. The smoke flavor was very light. Any thoughts on how I can get the flavor up? I got the same result smoking my first salmon. I can't make good smoked salmon dip without the smokiness. So any suggestions would greatly be appreciated.

2. No smoke ring.....just once I would like to get one

Thanks to all for all the wonderful suggestions. Oh btw Oar, I didn't have a digi cam handy.....just close you eyes and
Gost, what wood(s) did you use for smoke? You may have to use more wood or go to a stronger flavored wood.
I think your initial temps mighta been high and you "seared" slightly which kept the smoke out.

I cook baby backs (and everything else) at a target temp of 210 to 215. 220, to me, is "high" and I'll damper down a bit.

And as far as smoke ring, I usually can get nearly 100% of the meat to be pink on my baby backs. So I agree with Earl on wood choice (I use apple and hickory, cherry if I got it), then consider heat, and another question for you: Did you pull off the membrane?

That could also have an effect.

Did you spray with anything?

Let us know and we'll help you nail down some killer ribs!
One detail Gost has leftout of his post is that his water smoker is electric, which puts a different spin on his difficulties.

Earl's question of what kind of wood did you use (species) should also be accompanied by did you use chunks or chips.

Using a combination of the two, chips for quantity and chunks for duration, may help impove the smoke level and reduce the need to open the cooker to replenish.
Thanks Scott, I disremembered that he was using an h20 electric unit. Now if we can only convince him that it's more fun to play with an open flame- : :twisted:
fire GOOOOOOD.....!..! electric BAD!!...but ohhhh so convienent. I really just wanted to get my feet wet as far as the whole smoking thing is concerned. The woods I like to use a 1:1 ratio of oak and hickory with just a little mestique thrown in.

To get the smoke up, should I mix wet and dry chips together?

maybe i should put soaked chunks by the element, and soaked chips in the aluminum pan that I place on the element.......too many options.

Also my smoker doesn't have any vents in it, would that play a role?
Gost, as an aside, when you're ready to look at another rig that'll give you better results than the electric, have a look at the Weber Smokey Mountain. They run about $200, you may have to pay a bit more with shipping. They offer near electric convience. You can easily get 8hrs or more burn time without having to fiddle with the fire.

I will assure you the WSM will give you that solid smoke ring and good smokey flavor you're after.

I'm unfamiliar with your cooker.

Is there any type of thermostat at the cooking grate level?

I still think you could get a decent ring, assuming correct temps and smoking fuel
I put a probe thermometer in the EH20, it reads a steady 215-225 when I'm smoking. Tonite I'm trying the salmon again but only soaking the chips for half the time and tossing in a few dry chips also is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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