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2-2-1 Method for Baby Back Ribs Didn't Work for Me

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This past weekend I attempted my first cook of baby back ribs on my new Kamado Joe Classic II.  I read on this forum that the 2-2-1 cooking method was the best option but my ribs came out dry.  I would say that half of my 2 slabs were too dry.  I used the EasyBBQ thermometer to monitor the temperature and the rib meat got to a temp of 212 and I was able to keep grill temp between 250 to 280 degrees.  What did I do wrong?  Is the rib temp of 212 too high?  Were my grill temps too high?  Also, I did use the deflector plates to produce indirect heat.  I would appreciate any feedback or tips.  Thanks.

 

SA

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I am not a fan of methods (3-2-1, 2-2-1.In fact, my baby backs are usually done in about 3.5 hours. But, and if you use them (methods), you still have to remember that you are cooking to doneness or tenderness. And doneness or tenderness is not always going to jive with a preconceived target temp. At least not on ribs, brisket, or pork butts, in my opinion. Innately, you know the answer to your question. You should have checked on them sooner. All the other variables (time, grill temp, etc.) are insignificant if you do that. If you want a set it and forget it type of deal, you are always going to be subject to variables, imo.

 

My 2¢ at least

 

And, shout out to Chi-Town. That's my dad's hometown...

 

Edited by CentralTexBBQ

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I usually do BBs in 3 hours, 2 hours bare, 1 hour wrapped in foil with 1/2 cup of red wine the 15-30 minutes out of the foil for saucing. Last cook I did 3 hours bare with no wrapping. Don’t cook to a particular temp, just until they break a little when picked up with tongs 1/2 way done the slab. Next time i’ll Probably go 1 1/2 bare, 1 hour wrapped then bare until I think they’re done, probably around 3 hours. Look for pull back from the bones, like the rack on the right. You can see also how they break when lifted - the bend test for doneness.

 

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It's a learning process, keep at it and soon enough you'll be cranking out mind-blowing ribs.

 

Looking at your ribs I don't see much pull back from the bone, I would expect to see more pull back after cooking that long.  So you wrapped those for 2 hours?

 

I do my ribs like dman:

  • 2-3 hours smoke time bare
  • 45 minutes to 1 hour wrapped
  • 15-30 minutes unwrapped to firm them back up

At the initial 2-3 hour mark when you go to wrap, how much have the pulled back from the bone?  This will determine how much time they need to be wrapped.  If they are already pulling back and getting pretty tender, don't wrap them too long.  If they are thick or not cooking as fast, might need more time in the foil.

 

They are pretty much done after foil, so 1 hour might be too long.  Just put them back on to firm the bark back up and add some sauce if you like.

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I find ribs super easy and zero stress. I do nothing special to them and I don't use a thermometer to check when they're done. I cook indirect at 225 on the dome thermometer, no separate grill level thermometer (I also have the KJ Classic). Since I use a rib rack, I flip them over midway through, but if you're not using one you can just let it sit. I don't wrap at any point, I don't spritz. The bend test tells me when they're done. 

 

I always do St Louis style and that takes me 5.5-6 hours total. According to Meathead, whose recipe I follow, baby backs should take 3-4 (https://amazingribs.com/best-barbecue-ribs-recipe). 

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Yes, 5 hours is too long for back ribs. I find 3-1-0 (no unwrap) for dry rub, or just straight 4 hours unwrapped works best. If saucing, 2-1-1 or again 4 straight unwrapped.

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I don't believe in a time for ribs; it depends on the rib. I've tried the numerical methods and concluded long, low and slow is all I need. It may be 4 hrs, it may be 6 hrs. I spritz them every hour or so with mop, and watch for the meat to recede from the tip of the bones. There's a point where the bone aren't loose, but just need a gentle tug - that's done. It's usually in the 190-200 F temp range, but again, it's not a temperature target, you have to...

 

Ask the ribs when they're done. 

 

Frank

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39 minutes ago, fbov said:

Ask the ribs when they're done. 

 

Frank

Yeah, something like the bend test or try to pull a rib out test.  I thought I saw, at the beginning of this discussion, doing a internal temp test.  On ribs?  Setting yourself up for a fail.  Are you measuring the meat next to the bone or in the thickest part of the meat?  Probably 1/4" difference if you have meaty ribs.

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I cooked two racks of baby backs on a pellet spitter yesterday over a water pan at 225 for the full 3/2/1 and they came out perfect.

Hotter than that will cook faster if you wrap.

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It's super important to distance yourself from most time and temperature based cooking methods for the big bbq meats.  None of them are going to work consistently.  You will NEVER EVER mess up a rack of any kind of ribs again after you learn what they feel like when they are done.  There is no way to hit that sweet spot (other than luck) by cooking to any time and temperature combination OR to any specific internal meat temperature.  

 

You can use the toothpick test, which is like probing brisket or boston butt for 'probe tenderness'.  Baby backs won't follow the 'bend test' properly like a rack of pork spares will so there is that to contend with also....

 

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When I wrap I spritz the foil a few times with apple juice/apple cider vinegar then place the meat bone down.

In my opinion adding more than a tiny amount of liquid results in the ribs getting boiled.

There's plenty of natural juices inside the wrap after an hour without needing extra IMHO.

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On 5/10/2019 at 1:20 AM, daninpd said:

Yeah, something like the bend test or try to pull a rib out test. ..doing a internal temp test.  On ribs?  Setting yourself up for a fail. ...

Decision criteria can vary without making non-decisive measurements superfluous. You can look at a remote thermometer without disturbing the cook. If you're spritzing hourly, the poor probe placement won't mislead your eyes. 

Frank

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