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Doing Ribs in a smoker

#1 User is offline   PMTom 

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 08:33 PM

I am going to try to smoke ribs next week. I looked to see what info I could find on how to cook ribs in a smoker but everything seems to be done on a gas grill. What temperture do you want to cook them at? On an avg. how long do they need to smoke? I was reading about the 3-2-1 method, does that also work when doing ribs in a smoker? Also I read that when the ribs are done you can pick them up with tongs and both ends will point down to your feet. Is that true? Thanks for any help I can get. I love the insight you BBQ'ers give. It is so valuble to new smokers like me.
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#2 User is offline   bluesin 

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 08:58 AM

Mornin,

What kind of smoker do you have? Ribs are pretty simple really, it's 225 degrees for 4 hours, that's 225 at the grate, where the ribs are. Cook for 4 hours, then remove and throw on the grill over indirect heat and baste with BBQ sauce.

Smoke for 1/2 the time sholuld be plenty.

Not sure about the tongs/feet thing, but they should tear pretty easily and pull from the bone easily...

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#3 User is offline   Bishop 

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 09:17 AM

Beef ribs are one of those things that I cook simply by the way they look. How trimmed up are the ribs, these aren't finger ribs are they? If you got a nice top layer of fat I like to cook them around 225 off heat for around 5 or so hours, I've cooked for up to 8 hours but haven't liked the results.

I want to see a small amount of fat and moisture settle on top of the meat and the rib bone exposed around 3/16ths to a 1/4 inch. I like pecan and mesquite with a little charcoal for the first two hours then I finish it off with a small handful or two of charcoal every hour and half to maintain temperature. I don't typically spritz beef because its got so much fat but you can if you want too.

Finger ribs are different I'll cook those like a steak.
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#4 User is offline   ERIK 

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 04:58 PM

What type of ribs are you planning on smoking? Baby backs or spare ribs?
Spare ribs will take longer than baby back ribs. Unless I'm mistaken the 3-2-1 method is meant for spare ribs, if you were to use it for baby backs they would be well over done.
I also cook ribs on my smoker by look and feel. I like the "tear test". If you can grab two rib bones and pull the meat apart easily then they are done.

What type of smoker do you have?
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#5 User is offline   PMTom 

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 07:34 PM

View PostERIK, on Jul 30 2007, 05:58 PM, said:

What type of ribs are you planning on smoking? Baby backs or spare ribs?
Spare ribs will take longer than baby back ribs. Unless I'm mistaken the 3-2-1 method is meant for spare ribs, if you were to use it for baby backs they would be well over done.
I also cook ribs on my smoker by look and feel. I like the "tear test". If you can grab two rib bones and pull the meat apart easily then they are done.

What type of smoker do you have?


I have a Brinkman water smoker. I cooked two sets of St.Louis ribs last week. I cooked them in my smoker for 3 1/2 hrs
then wrapped in foil for 1 1/2 hrs then finished on the grill over indirect heat. When I put them over direct heat they started to burn so I moved them to indirect heat. I could not keep them on the grill very long (maybe 20 mins.) because the meat was falling off the bones. They tasted great. Did I just get LUCKY or can I usually expect those results? The Ribs I have had in the last 4 Chain restaurants I visited that advertised great Ribs were nor as good.
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#6 User is offline   cuskit 

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 08:19 PM

View PostERIK, on Jul 30 2007, 05:58 PM, said:

What type of ribs are you planning on smoking? Baby backs or spare ribs?
Spare ribs will take longer than baby back ribs. Unless I'm mistaken the 3-2-1 method is meant for spare ribs, if you were to use it for baby backs they would be well over done.
I also cook ribs on my smoker by look and feel. I like the "tear test". If you can grab two rib bones and pull the meat apart easily then they are done.

What type of smoker do you have?

Okay, I'll admit I'm dumb! What exactly is the 3-2-1 method? Mike
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#7 User is offline   ERIK 

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 09:05 PM

View Postcuskit, on Aug 5 2007, 08:19 PM, said:

Okay, I'll admit I'm dumb! What exactly is the 3-2-1 method? Mike

The 3-2-1 method is a way to cook spare ribs.
you cook them for 3 hours between 225 and 250,
then you wrap them in foil and cook them for 2 hours.
then to firm them up a bit you cook them for 1 hour outside the foil.
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#8 User is offline   cuskit 

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 09:13 PM

View PostERIK, on Aug 5 2007, 10:05 PM, said:

The 3-2-1 method is a way to cook spare ribs.
you cook them for 3 hours between 225 and 250,
then you wrap them in foil and cook them for 2 hours.
then to firm them up a bit you cook them for 1 hour outside the foil.

Erik,

Thanks, figured it was something like that. I never went that long, but then I gas grill, don't have a smoker, and it's hard to keep low enough temps for that long. This fall I'm hoping to buy a BGE, then we'll talk about 3-2-1 more in depth! Appreciate the comeback. Mike
"Grill der Steaks, Smoke dem Ribs and post yer Porn"
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#9 User is offline   ERIK 

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 08:07 AM

View Postcuskit, on Aug 5 2007, 09:13 PM, said:

Erik,

Thanks, figured it was something like that. I never went that long, but then I gas grill, don't have a smoker, and it's hard to keep low enough temps for that long. This fall I'm hoping to buy a BGE, then we'll talk about 3-2-1 more in depth! Appreciate the comeback. Mike

After trying to do ribs a couple of time on the Jenn-Air and not getting the results I wanted I decided to get a smoker and I'm glad I did. After I first got the smoker my wife joked that the Jenn-Air was getting jealous since I didn't pay enough attention to it. But after a while my cooking kind of balanced out, you can't beat the smoker for ribs and pulled pork etc, but it will never replace the grill for steaks and burgers and mostly the everyday cooking.
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#10 User is offline   Bishop 

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 09:20 AM

That 3-2-1 method doesn't sound like a good method at all.
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#11 User is offline   cuskit 

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 10:59 AM

View PostERIK, on Aug 6 2007, 09:07 AM, said:

After trying to do ribs a couple of time on the Jenn-Air and not getting the results I wanted I decided to get a smoker and I'm glad I did. After I first got the smoker my wife joked that the Jenn-Air was getting jealous since I didn't pay enough attention to it. But after a while my cooking kind of balanced out, you can't beat the smoker for ribs and pulled pork etc, but it will never replace the grill for steaks and burgers and mostly the everyday cooking.

ERIK,

I believe you're right! Abeach2bum and I just did ribs (see "Smoking Buzzards" elsewhere) yesterday on our gas grills (as I'm sure did zillions others that reside in between our respective States), and though we were both very happy with the results (as usual), I personally think a smoker has the advantage over a gas grill, only because it is less maintenance during the cook itself. You can be a little more lazy (other than replacing spent woods and charcoal) and exact on a smoker, while a gas grill requires a lot of attention to maintain exact temps, position of meats relative to flame, endeavoring to maintain a low enough heat in the cooking chamber while at the same time keeping up the meat core temp enough to render fat, retaining moisture without overdrying, etc.. But Beach and I both agreed that it is a lot of fun trying, and the results, though maybe not always as perfect as a dedicated smoker, can be every bit as satisfying and enjoyable. The appreciative comments of those consuming our ribs make positive the whole experience of diversifying the use of a gas grill. This fall, I'm hoping for a BGE, then I'll have to pacify my jealous gas grill also! < chuckle >

Mike
"Grill der Steaks, Smoke dem Ribs and post yer Porn"
Grill Porn that is.. Remember - No Pix, It Didn't Happen!

2007 Kirkland Signature 100% 304 SS 720-0432 (Nexgrill origin)

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#12 User is offline   ERIK 

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 11:25 AM

View PostBishop, on Aug 6 2007, 09:20 AM, said:

That 3-2-1 method doesn't sound like a good method at all.

I'm not really endorsing the 3-2-1 method. It really depends on how you like your ribs. A lot of people like the ribs to fall off the bone, the 3-2-1 method is good at producing this, and it keeps the ribs from drying out. Personally I like them to have some texture to them, and have to pull the meat off the bone. So I don't really use the 3-2-1 method much.
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#13 User is offline   boble88 

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 06:31 PM

Question for all the smokers out there. I have had my Brinkmanns' pro smoker for about 7 years. I do the dry rub method (no sauce on my ribs) for the pork (sorry no baby back ribs for me) and beef ribs. All full size slabs and I usally smoke them for 6+ hrs. I use a combination of hardwood charcoal and hickory wood. Everyone loves the ribs except for me, I am usually dissapointed in the end results. My main gripe is the fact that the outside of the ribs tend to be dry. I baste or mop the ribs. I have put aluminium pans with water at the bottom for moisture with no luck. I did try smoking then covering with foil and then finish without the foil (3-2-1) which is ok but the ribs just fall apart to much. Which makes them a bitch to eat.
This is a horizontal smoker with the side firebox, cannot hold a water bath so I must use pans. My rub is a mixture of the basic rub ingredients. Paprika, cumin,cayenne,chilli powder salt, pepper and sugar (using turbinado sugar because it withstands higher heat) I do not baste with a barbecue sauce. I like them dry and use my own homemade sauce for the ribs after they are done.
Anyone willing to share their smoking secrets with me?

PS: I live in Massachusetts and I would love to find someplace around here where I can get a better smoker. I did see one in Texas I want, 3/16 of an inch rolled steel, horizontal smoker with the vertical smoker box on one side and the side firebox on the other. Able to hold water in the horizontal box. Frieght charges from Texas to MA would be outrageous. I have the TEC grill but to me it is sacrilegous to BBQ on a gas grill. I know people do it and the ribs are out of this world. I will take heat for this statement but, you grill with gas and smoke with wood. Sorry.
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#14 User is offline   TSBBQ 

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Posted 19 August 2007 - 08:10 AM

View PostBishop, on Aug 6 2007, 10:20 AM, said:

That 3-2-1 method doesn't sound like a good method at all.


That's funny as most successful competitive teams use it to varying degrees.
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#15 User is offline   shelly 

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Posted 19 August 2007 - 11:15 AM

View PostERIK, on Aug 6 2007, 09:25 AM, said:

I'm not really endorsing the 3-2-1 method. It really depends on how you like your ribs. A lot of people like the ribs to fall off the bone, the 3-2-1 method is good at producing this, and it keeps the ribs from drying out. Personally I like them to have some texture to them, and have to pull the meat off the bone. So I don't really use the 3-2-1 method much.


I agree. The 3-2-1 method includes a steaming phase (aluminum wrap) which is used by competition bbq chefs, Reichlan et al to get that falloff the bone tenderness.

I, too, prefer a very tender meat that has to be taken off the bone with my teeth.

My recent experience smoking two racks of ribs on my new big green egg produced the most tender, moist and flavorful ribs I have ever made in just 4 hours at 235 degrees. I recently did ribs on my Weber with my home made smoke box for 12 hours and they were no where as flavorful, moist and tender as this recent batch.

Here's another vote for a dedicated smoker.

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