Please explain 2-2-1 and 3-2-1 in a little detail please

Discussion in 'Pork' started by porktaco, Sep 17, 2015.

  1. porktaco

    porktaco Newbie


    I'm using a Master Built electric smoker for this project.

    Smoking a slab of spare ribs .

    I'm in somewhat of a time crunch and I need some help quickly. I know someone is going to say use the search feature and I have. I found a lot of people saying they used the 2-2-1 or the 3-2-1 method but I did not find details of these steps like temps during each step. Can someone please explain or send me a link to the actual details around this.

    I'm guessing that 2-2-1 refers to smoking the dry rubbed ribs uncovered for 2 hours then wrap them in foil using one of the juice mixtures from this forum and return to the smoker for 2 hours, then remove from foil and place back on cooker for another 1 hour with a wet sauce applied. Using smoke only on the first 2 hours.

    Is this correct? What is the ideal temps during each phase?

    I'm trying this wrapped idea to help with an issue that I have been experiencing. I have smoked 4 slabs on this electric smoker and each time they were tough as leather. Twice I had to throw them in the trash they were so bad.

    Please help

  2. schlotz

    schlotz Meat Mopper

    Not a lot of info there PT regarding what you've done in the past end up with tough eats.   Your assessment of timing on the methods is correct.  Temps are a personal preference to some extent, but usually in the range of 225-250° but the time and actual meat will still be variables regardless of what temp you settle in on.  BTW: the wrapping method works, but so does just leaving them alone and waiting until you get a good pull back off the bones of 1/4-1/2 inch which is the first indication for me that the job is getting close to being complete. Picking them up with half the slab dangling and then looking for a slight crack across the meat near the bend is next, OR the toothpick test, easy in and out. Usually when I do St. Louis style ribs I'm somewhere around 6 hours at 225° (no wrapping) but again it depends each time on the meat itself. Oh, I do spray them down with apple juice once every hour starting after the second hour.

  3. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  4. floridasteve

    floridasteve Smoking Fanatic

    If your doing spare ribs, you'll want to use 3-2-1. The shorter method is for the smaller baby back ribs.
  5. porktaco

    porktaco Newbie

    Yesterday I took a full slab and cut it in half. I rubbed one half and placed it on the rack and left it there for 5.5 hours. The other half I did the 3-2-.05 just to compare the differences. For some reason both halfs turned out tendor and I didnt have an issue with them being tough. I think in the past I wasnt cooking them long enough .

    When I was placing the wrapped half back in , it caught the edge of the grate and ripped open. That made a hugh mess. I had to wrap it again and add make up more juice: what a pain in the [email protected]#. Anyway, it still turned out ok. I do have a few questions.

    1. Can I use a foil pan and just place foil over the top and crimp it around the edges to seal it? Trying to make the foil wide enough to cover half a slab was a challenge and even without the problem mentioned above, the juices are still hard to contain. Or is there a trick to bonding a few sheets together to make a seal tight pocket?

    2. I think I had to much smoke or to harsh, it was way to smokey to enjoy the flavor of the meat. It left a smokey taste in your mouth afterwards. I used Hickory chips and I refilled every 40 minutes for the first two hours. I think next time I'm going to use apple and less of it . Maybe instead of filling the chip tray, I will just place a few chips in it. Could this be the problem?


    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  6. porktaco

    porktaco Newbie

    Sorry, I have another question.

    Im getting ready for a small event next weekend and that is why I'm doing test runs this week. Next week I will be placing three or four (if they fit) slabs in the same 40 MES . Will I need to increase/ decrease the expected cook times or temps because I'm loading it up?


  7. floridasteve

    floridasteve Smoking Fanatic

    In Theroy, no. However, when you first load your smoker with 4 vs 1 racks of ribs, it WILL take longer to return to your set temperature. This will also apply to a lesser degree to every time you open the door -- it takes longer to spritz, mop, or foil 4 racks than 1. How much longer? I cannot say for sure as I've never done that many.

    My gut says if your using 3-2-1, go with 3.5-2.25-1, but that's a guess. If you are not foiling, you just go until its tender (probe/toothpick test) which I guess would be an additional half hour if you don't mop much.

    There are probably others here that can say with more authority.
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yes you can use a foil pan. Or get the double wide Hvy Duty Foil. Place the ribs in the foil and roll them up. Close one end and leave the other open. Pour in your juice in the open end and seal tight. Be careful not to bump sharp edges. 

    Hickory can be strong for many. Apple is much more mild. 1/4C, a dozen chips, at a time is plenty in a MES.

    If doing 4 racks, place one rack on the center of each shelf, putting the thickest rack on the hottest shelf. My Gen1 MES40 runs a little hotter on top. This will not have much impact on recovery time...JJ

    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015

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