3-2-1 St. Louis Ribs Overdone?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by pianov, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. I smoked three slabs of St. Louis style ribs yesterday. I think perhaps they were a bit overdone and would like some input from those with experience with this method. I basically followed the recipe outlined on BDSkeey's recent post titled: "St. Louis Ribs Jeff's Rub Easy as 3-2-1". I also used Jeff's rub on the ribs.

    I kept the smoker very close to 230 degrees for the first three hours with the ribs in a somewhat mature smoke (started the fire three hours earlier) and then also for the next two hours after I had mopped the ribs and wrapped the ribs in foil. Then after two hours in the foil I removed the ribs from the foil (they were falling apart at this point), mopped them again and put them back in the smoker at 250 to 275 degrees for a half hour, then applied BBQ sauce and put back in smoker for another half hour at 250 to 275. For the last hour the fire was very mature and was producing no smoke.

    Although the ribs were quite good (everyone at the dinner table raved about them), I felt that they could have been a bit more moist (they were not dry at all, but I've had juicier ribs) and maybe even a bit more smoke flavor.

    Comments? Suggestions? Incredible insight? Thanks!

    Terry Farrell

    near Tampa Bay, Florida

    FWIW, I'm running a masonry wood smoker burning oak. The temps I mention above were observed on my Redi-Check oven/meat combination temperature gauge. The oven probe inserts into the front wooden door right between the two analog temp gauges you can see in the picture. The Redi-Check consistently read about ten degrees above the analog gauges and 20 to 30 degrees above the analogs in the last hour when the temp went up over 250. Not sure what that is all about.......  :-(

  2. It's been my experience that the 3-2-1 method by it's very nature overcooks ribs somewhat. That's not to say it's bad, and many love the "fall off the bone" texture, but to my taste, they're just too done. I usually run mine around 275˚ and do two hours in smoke, 45 minutes or so in foil, and then anywhere form a half hour on up for the last stage back on the rack until I get the texture and color I like.

    3-2-1 is a good starting point, but just tweak the times and temperatures until you find what works for you.
  3. geerock

    geerock SMF Premier Member

    Once you've got them fall off the bone you are already done (actually a bit overdone in my opinion). The 3 2 1 is just a basic guideline. The ribs, the cooker, and other things affect the outcome. I've gone to 3 to 3 1/2 in the smoker, an hour or a little better in foil, and then IF NEEDED, a 20 to 30 minute no foil so I can set the sauce. Never 6 anymore.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2013
  4. Thanks - that seems consistent with my observations. Next time I'll just trim some time off each step - or lower temp. Thanks.
  5. 3-2-1 always makes ribs overdone. I smoke at 235 for 3 hr then put in foil with foiling juice for 45 min at 260 then remove from foil and put back on about 30 min with sauce or glaze or whatever at . Perfect pull on the ribs. Not fall of the bone and not tough.
  6. Piano,

    Don't live far from you. I would be more then happy to be a taster [​IMG]

    But yes the 3:2:1 is a guide and if you are running any higher then 225 it will cook faster and shorten your times.
  7. noboundaries

    noboundaries OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've played with cooking ribs at all kinds of temps, wrapping, not wrapping, etc.  Personally I'm not a fan of the 3-2-1 method but it definitely works.  My family, and lot of non-smokers I know, love fall off the bone SLCs where you take one bite resulting in a mouthful of meat and a bone in your hand.  Yeah, not me.  I love a nice bark, smoke ring, and a clean bite (pull) that requires me to eat the meat off the bone to the last bite but the meat comes cleanly off the bone.  I pick similar sized SLCs, light rub, dry smoke unwrapped for 5.5 to 6 hours at 225 to 230, spritz every 60-90 minutes with apple cider, apply sauce then carmelize for 30 minutes.  Always juicy, delicious, good smoke flavor, and a minimum amount of work and attention. 
  8. 2-1-1 @250 works for me. I used 321 as guideline like everyone has pointed out, then made it my own. Has nice pull off the bone. Every cooker is different...
  9. Ya know, I tried the 3-2-1 several times and they were always a little too dry. flavor was great and everyone has loved them. I saw your post and thought I'd try them your way. when I put them on the table "she who must be obeyed" said they were the best I'd ever done. She agreed that she always thought they were great the way I'd been doing them but they were a lot more moist. I'm doin' some BB's tomorrow and am going to do them the same way. Of course I'll check them by the bent test.

  10. Call me crazy but I smoke mine for 4 hours at 220 and wrap for about an hour with squeeze butter and brown sugar... boom done. Not quite falling off the bone just about
  11. So how do you carmalize? Do you put them on a grill or turn up the heat?
  12. noboundaries

    noboundaries OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes to both. Sometimes I move to my gas grill but more often I take the lid off my WSM, open the vents, sauce the ribs with sauce I warmed in the microwave or side burner on my gasser. The coals get hot with all that air and the chamber temp climbs. I'll crank up the Guru too, then put the lid back on and let the carmalization take place.
  13. I don't cook them for that long either. I feel like they come out too mushy. We prefer that our ribs have a slight pull. (I'm a Yankee lol). I actually don't even wrap them. Mine go on the smoker for about 4 hours. I start saucing them the last hour every 20 minutes or so.

    My next venture is to cook for 1.5 then wrap in foil with butter, brown sugar and a mildish hot sauce for 1 hour. Then sauce the last 30 minutes.

    You just have to try out a few methods and see what works for you. Enjoy, I still bet they were awesome.

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