Help Needed: Ribs

Discussion in 'Pork' started by sooperjay, Aug 31, 2009.

  1. sooperjay

    sooperjay Newbie

    Hi Everyone. I need some advice regarding pork ribs. In the past 2 weekends, I have made baby backs, as well as spareribs--both with the same issue.... they seem to be getting done too quickly. I am using an MES with a smoke daddy and the internal temp fluctuates around 220 - 240 degrees (I used a second probe to keep an eye on this, so I am pretty confident).

    Let me start with the baby backs.. After removing the membrane and coating with mustard and Jeff's rub (love it), I proceeded with the 3-2-1 method. But, since it is baby backs, I did the 2-2-1 method. So, after 2 hours smoke and then 2 hours wrapped up, I decided to check the temp of the meat before the final hour and (expecting it to be around 165)... it was almost 180. So, I decided not to put them back in the smoker and just wrapped them back up and let them rest before cutting them. Now, they tasted great, but I am just curious why everyone talks about how long each step is in the process and not so much about what internal temp to reach before moving to the next step. Wouldn't temp be a better measure of this since everyone's setup is different?

    This past weekend I did the same with the spareribs, but with 3-2-1. And again, once I pulled them out of the foil (after the 3 and the 2), the temp was way above 172. So, I forewent the final hour. Did I do the right thing? Or should I just relax and let it cook longer? It certainly wasn't dried out and they tasted great, but I just feel like they could have been a bit more tender. Any advice?
  2. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Guest

    I have never checked the temp of my ribs. I always go by time. When you pull them out of the foil they are done but the last hour is for firming up and sauce if you want. But you can modify the process. Instead of 3-2-1 do 2.5-1.5-.75. You will find what works for you. I usually foil when i get good pull back on the meat then foil for 1.5-2 hrs. Then finish for .5-1hr to firm up and sauce if Im going to sauce.
  3. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The 3-2-1 is a guide to good ribs, But I think everyone uses something different...
    It's a learning curve that you need to do till you come up with whats good for you.
  4. bbq lover

    bbq lover Fire Starter

    i am also a user of the temp probe not smoking by time just use time as a guide make sure the probe dont touch the bone or stick out to get wild readings my spares i go 155 to 160 wrap for 40 mins pull of foil then back on till 180to 190 and appling sauce every 20 mins till done
  5. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ribs are just about the only thing ewe smoke by time. The 3-2-1 I personally use for spares not baby back ribs it's the 2-2-1 for babys. Like dan said this is a guide to be used and tweaked as you see fit to adjust them to your liking. I personally use a 2.5-2-1/2 for my spare ribs on my smoker yours can be differant.
    I don't smoke many baby backs too often.
  6. sooperjay

    sooperjay Newbie

    Thanks everyone. Glad to see I am not crazy (or doing something wrong). I guess the important thing is that they taste good, right?

    By the way, just installed a smoke daddy on my MES. I must say that decoupling the smoke generation from the heating element of the smoker made a world of difference. I was having a lot of trouble keeping a good consistent smoke before. Now, it is like unlimited amount of smoke on demand, regardless of smoker temperature. If you have the same trouble, I would recommend investing a few dollars in a similar device.
  7. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It's pretty hard to get an accurate temp reading with ribs because the meat is so thin. So it is about the only thing you don't smoke to temp. Going strictly by time is risky too because there can be a lot of variablilty between racks of ribs and smokers.

    The best way to cook ribs is by look and feel. Let's replace 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 with A-B-C. The first phase (A) you want to look for some pullback on the bones (about 1/4") before moving to the next step. For the second phase (B) they are done when they pass the bend test. That is when you can pick them up with tongs they should "bend" quite a bit and the meat will start to pull away from the bones. Just open up the foil to check. If they don't bend like you'd like, close up the foil and let them go a bit longer. The last phase (C) is where you can firm them back up or glaze them with sauce or whatever.

    Some people don't foil at all so they just cook them until they pass the bend test. By the time they "bend" that way the temp will be in the 180s or so so you know they will be safe to eat.

    I used to HATE IT when people would tell me that ribs are done by look and feel because I wanted something easy to go by like time. But trust me, it gets easier with experience. And the only way to get experience is to smoke several racks. But then you get to eat your practice ribs and that's a good thing, [​IMG]

    Hope this helps.

  8. sooperjay

    sooperjay Newbie

    Thank you for the great explanation. I can now visualize what I am looking for at each step. That was the piece that was missing. Thanks!
  9. bbqhead

    bbqhead Smoking Fanatic

    dave could not have explained any better! plus you have to know your cooker, everyone cooks on different cookers so one way wont work for everyone. just follow what dave said and apply it to your cooker and you will be ok.

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