Probing ribs

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Original poster
Apr 20, 2021
Hey guys,
New member, long time lurker.
A few questions about rib temperatures. I use a hybrid of the 3-2-1 method. By that I mean I do the steps of unwrapped, wrapping then unwrapping, but base it off temp rather than time.
Now the guidance I’m going off of says that first you smoke unwrapped until the meat gets to 165 degrees. Then you wrap them and smoke until they reach 202 degrees. After that, throw your sauce on and cook for a bit longer.

My question is this… well first, has anyone else used this temperature method? I haven’t been able to find anyone else suggesting this. Second and what I REALLY wanna know, is whether or not you guys probe in multiple parts of the meat or just the thickest? I always figured if its one temp at the thickest part of the meat, then it’s probably hotter at thinner parts. But that hasn’t been the case for me. So I’ve been grappling on when to say the meat has reached its preferred temp. Thoughts? And thanks in advance!
While I’m a huge advocate cooking to temperature not time, however I don’t do that for ribs. I go with smoke until the color is where I want it, generally around 3 hours then wrap. I take them out of the wrap when a toothpick slides through like soft butter. Then back on the smoker only enough to let the sauce set. In my wrap I gen put in a little butter, apple juice and whatever strikes me at the time (tiger sauce, brown sugar etc).
I always get good reviews
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I have played with temping ribs, but I learned to use the Bend Test and Probing for Tenderness first and fell back on what always gave the desired result.
Yes, temp testing in multiple places is needed. There is more to temp than thickness. Fat and the amount of rendered Gelatin can affect temp. You just go by the average from several tested spots, rather than waiting for the meat at ribs 3 and 5 to catch up. This is why many go by probe and bend test for the desired result...JJ
I don't wrap . I've tried it . Didn't like the outcome . When they start to bend easy , I probe for tenderness . Both ends and middle . All that's been said already , but wanted to add this .
These were full spares from the same 3 rack package . One trimmed to St. Louis
the other cleaned up and tip left on .
Cooked at the same time laid flat on a Weber kettle .
The Full rack cooked faster than the St. Louis trimmed rack .
Big weight difference there . The smaller rack took another 30 minutes to probe tender after I took the full rack off .

WELCOME! I think you are OCDing a bit but your logic is sound. Measure thickest part is good. As a general rule I think most of us agree that 195IT is bite clean with a tug and 205F is FOTB (fall of the bone). I like right in the middle so I can eat with knife and fork. Now that instant read thermometers are like $10 I am all about about measuring. I think it helps you learn the art of the bend/probe/etc. I don't run enough cue to learn it. I pull ribs at 195F at thickest rib and you get 5F or so carry over. Wrap and rest in fridge until day I am eating. I sear on a grill when serving and find this essential for the flavor I want. Very close to SmokinAL technique.
I've tried "no wraps" multiple times, and every time I didn't care as much for the result as wrapped. The first being they don't cook as evenly with the ends getting too crispy and in the thicker part- they are underdone. But they do get wonderful color and smoke!

I just go by color in the first step, which is between 2 and 3 hours depending on the temperature. I never use a temp probe. Then I wrap, and to me that is when the magic happens. (No need to spritz or mop or anything else this way) I will check them in 2 hours but generally they go 2-1/2. I go by the bend test and never have I gone by temp. I guess for me its just experience guiding me. No need to over complicate it.
So many helpful answers! Thanks guys. I’m smoking 3 spares for the first game of the Packers season and really wanna show out for my guests lol. This will be useful for wowing them. If anyone else has any helpful hints, by all means keep them coming! I’ll be sure to post pics the day of!
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