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Steven Raichlen's Take On 3-2-1 for Smoking Pork Ribs

chipmanbbq

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Good read. I used the 3-2-1 method when I first started cooking ribs, but now I don't bother with wrapping. I do like his idea of applying more rub after unwrapping though.

I also like baby backs over spares. Just my personal preference I suppose.
 

daricksta

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Good read. I used the 3-2-1 method when I first started cooking ribs, but now I don't bother with wrapping. I do like his idea of applying more rub after unwrapping though.

I also like baby backs over spares. Just my personal preference I suppose.
I also prefer b-backs because they're more meaty and tender. Some people think that STL are more flavorful but I disagree. I've also decided to smoke naked ribs--no foiling. In that way you don't need to add more rub. I also like to apply some BBQ sauce in the last 30 minutes to get it baked on, just to add to the finished bark texture and taste.

When I was foiling I never strictly adhered to 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 because many times I'd be occupied doing something else when it was time to foil or unfoil. Mine was more like 3.5-1.5.-1.5 or other variations.
 

SmokinAl

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There are about as many ways to smoke ribs as there are guys on here.

You have to experiment & see what works for you & your family.

I too prefer BB's over STL's.

Al
 

dirtsailor2003

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I prefer which ever rib is on sale. Actually I prefer Beef ribs over pork.

For pork I prefer to cook them naked with no foil. For beef ribs I think they really benefit from the braise you get when foiling. I've never re-seasoned after the foil. never thought it was necessary especially if I was going to sauce.
 

dr k

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He also prefers St. Louis style ribs to baby backs. Thoughts?

http://barbecuebible.com/2016/10/11...il&utm_term=0_5ccbbb292a-daafe8c615-117591033
I like spares and tips.  I usually manicure it myself, removing the membrane, flap, tips and squaring it up into the St. Louis cut.  The St. Louis cuts have been a couple bucks/lb. so I have been getting them. 

I have found that the two hours wrapped in the 3-2-1 method does wash out the flavor of the ribs, swimming in rib juices without adding foiling liquid.  The 3-1-1 naked the whole time seems like a good idea.  I've been doing Bear's cooling rack in a foil pan during the foiling stage to keep the meat elevated out of the juices and prefer that over food being in the juices.  That would be a little tricky with ribs.  I'd probably need baking sheets and cooling rack to do ribs that way.

In my Mes Gen1 40" I removed the chip housing/tray so it's an open heating element for my mailbox mod.  When I'm done smoking I want to have as little air circulation so I can smoke/cook naked the whole time without needing to foil, keeping it as moist as possible with great bark and not opening the smoker. So I turned my chip loader into a plug to seal the hole in the smoker (I cut most of it off so it's just a handle and a circle at the end.  It looks like a biscuit cutter with a long handle.  I wrapped the end in foil and it fits perfectly snug in the wall of the smoker without extending into the smoker.  I plugged the grease drip hole so no air comes in there and do not poke a hole in the foil lining the bottom drip pan.  I never get puddles on the bottom just drips so no worries.  So after those two mods and closing the top vent as much as possible with therm cables coming out, I'll have to see how things turn out.

-Kurt
 

daricksta

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I prefer which ever rib is on sale. Actually I prefer Beef ribs over pork.

For pork I prefer to cook them naked with no foil. For beef ribs I think they really benefit from the braise you get when foiling. I've never re-seasoned after the foil. never thought it was necessary especially if I was going to sauce.
I find it interesting that you prefer beef ribs. One of my goals for next year is to smoke beef ribs for the first time. One of my brothers-in-law treated me to oven-roasted beef ribs years ago but I've never gotten around to making them myself. Next year I plan to smoke a rack or two in my MES.
 

daricksta

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I like spares and tips.  I usually manicure it myself, removing the membrane, flap, tips and squaring it up into the St. Louis cut.  The St. Louis cuts have been a couple bucks/lb. so I have been getting them. 

I have found that the two hours wrapped in the 3-2-1 method does wash out the flavor of the ribs, swimming in rib juices without adding foiling liquid.  The 3-1-1 naked the whole time seems like a good idea.  I've been doing Bear's cooling rack in a foil pan during the foiling stage to keep the meat elevated out of the juices and prefer that over food being in the juices.  That would be a little tricky with ribs.  I'd probably need baking sheets and cooling rack to do ribs that way.

In my Mes Gen1 40" I removed the chip housing/tray so it's an open heating element for my mailbox mod.  When I'm done smoking I want to have as little air circulation so I can smoke/cook naked the whole time without needing to foil, keeping it as moist as possible with great bark and not opening the smoker. So I turned my chip loader into a plug to seal the hole in the smoker (I cut most of it off so it's just a handle and a circle at the end.  It looks like a biscuit cutter with a long handle.  I wrapped the end in foil and it fits perfectly snug in the wall of the smoker without extending into the smoker.  I plugged the grease drip hole so no air comes in there and do not poke a hole in the foil lining the bottom drip pan.  I never get puddles on the bottom just drips so no worries.  So after those two mods and closing the top vent as much as possible with therm cables coming out, I'll have to see how things turn out.

-Kurt
I guess the good thing about the mailbox mod is that you don't need to worry about air circulation. If I'm still having a problem keeping the AMNPS lit during all smokes I think I'll look into doing that mod myself. But I have no desire to start removing or plugging things up. The air circ in a MES 30 Gen 1 isn't great to begin with and you can still get good bark with naked pork ribs. But if you're smoking naked ribs, why still refer to it as 3-1-1 since they're never foiled? It's actually 5, period. Even if I do foil again I've already stopped using foil juice. All it does is help steam the ribs and soften the bark AND wash away the dry rub flavors.

But I'm still not fully understanding why you're plugging up everything. Seems to me that if you're concentrating both the heat and the smoke that might serve to dry out and over smoke the meat.

I buy all my racks of ribs--both b-backs and STL--at Costco. They've contracted with Swift Premium to not add any saline solution and to remove the membrane. One of the first times I smoked ribs I purposely bought a rack of spareribs so I could both trim them STL-style and remove the membrane. I watched a couple of You Tube videos to learn how to trim them properly. So, after doing it successfully once to prove I could do it, haven't felt the need to do it again. Not if Costco hands them to me all ready to go.

I'm also going to do some experimenting with smoking both wrapped and naked brisket next year. I've got a whole packer in the freezer. My plan is to smoke the point naked and to smoke the flat naked until the stall and then wrap it in butcher paper.
 
Last edited:

daricksta

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There are about as many ways to smoke ribs as there are guys on here.

You have to experiment & see what works for you & your family.

I too prefer BB's over STL's.

Al
What I especially don't like about STL ribs are those small bones at the tips. I hate having to pull them out of my mouth after taking a mouthful of rib meat.
 

dr k

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I guess the good thing about the mailbox mod is that you don't need to worry about air circulation. If I'm still having a problem keeping the AMNPS lit during all smokes I think I'll look into doing that mod myself. But I have no desire to start removing or plugging things up. The air circ in a MES 30 Gen 1 isn't great to begin with and you can still get good bark with naked pork ribs. But if you're smoking naked ribs, why still refer to it as 3-1-1 since they're never foiled? It's actually 5, period. Even if I do foil again I've already stopped using foil juice. All it does is help steam the ribs and soften the bark AND wash away the dry rub flavors.

But I'm still not fully understanding why you're plugging up everything. Seems to me that if you're concentrating both the heat and the smoke that might serve to dry out and over smoke the meat.

I buy all my racks of ribs--both b-backs and STL--at Costco. They've contracted with Swift Premium to not add any saline solution and to remove the membrane. One of the first times I smoked ribs I purposely bought a rack of spareribs so I could both trim them STL-style and remove the membrane. I watched a couple of You Tube videos to learn how to trim them properly. So, after doing it successfully once to prove I could do it, haven't felt the need to do it again. Not if Costco hands them to me all ready to go.

I'm also going to do some experimenting with smoking both wrapped and naked brisket next year. I've got a whole packer in the freezer. My plan is to smoke the point naked and to smoke the flat naked until the stall and then wrap it in butcher paper.
I forgot the word "or" between 3-1-1 and naked. I guess a five hour naked rib or whatever cook the hole time with only three hours of smoke would be 3-0-2.

Only when I'm done applying smoke there's no need for air flow in/out of the smoker. Might as well plug all holes to shorten heating cycles and eliminate the drying effect of air flow. It's an oven and electic kitchen ovens I've used don't exhaust heat and have a cold air intake. Gas stoves have to but they produce humidity. I've never had condensation issues inside my Mes and want to seal it up till I do then vent to manage humidity if necessary.
-Kurt
 

smokesontuesday

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I prefer spares trimmed to St. Louis style, mainly for the flaps and tips and such for use in beans (if they make it that far). I'm not opposed to baby backs though. They're both delicious.
 

daricksta

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Many on the MES FB page have gone to the 275 no wrap method and like it.
I don't like to cook at 275 in my MES. I think it's too high for real slow cooking. Besides, temps can spike that high with a 250° set point. I'm sure if I set the controller to 275° it would actually spike over 300° because I've seen it get almost to that temp before when I failed to clean the hi temp cutoff switch. I'm still deciding which temp I like better, 250 or 225.
 

daricksta

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I forgot the word "or" between 3-1-1 and naked. I guess a five hour naked rib or whatever cook the hole time with only three hours of smoke would be 3-0-2.

Only when I'm done applying smoke there's no need for air flow in/out of the smoker. Might as well plug all holes to shorten heating cycles and eliminate the drying effect of air flow. It's an oven and electic kitchen ovens I've used don't exhaust heat and have a cold air intake. Gas stoves have to but they produce humidity. I've never had condensation issues inside my Mes and want to seal it up till I do then vent to manage humidity if necessary.
-Kurt
We have a liquid propane-plumbed kitchen oven (because we didn't have a natural gas hookup available on our property) so I'm fine with air flowing (well, more crawling than flowing) thru my MES. It hasn't produced dried out ribs or beef brisket yet. Just the opposite: I'm still working on getting firm bark so I want the airflow to wick away as much interior moisture as possible. My goal is to capture the Holy Grail Of Crusty Bark next year.
 

daricksta

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I prefer spares trimmed to St. Louis style, mainly for the flaps and tips and such for use in beans (if they make it that far). I'm not opposed to baby backs though. They're both delicious.
I really don't mind spareribs. They're what I grew up with since my Dad often cooked them in the oven or on his charcoal grill. No one knew nothin' 'bout no baby backs or St. Louis ribs in the San Fernando Valley back in the late 50s-early 60s. At least not in my family. I'll cook up STL ribs because the "pros" contend they taste the best. But my family prefers b-backs.

Wish I would've known about you back when I trimmed my own STL ribs. I love Bush's Steakhouse Recipe Grillin' Beans but it could've benefited from some extra pork meat with the flaps and tips.
 

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