Welcome to the first in a 3 part series all about RIBS! I’m doing St Louis style spare ribs 3 different ways. Same rub, same liquid, same sauce but completely different cooking styles. Once I’ve published all 3 recipes, I’ll be writing up a side by side by side comparison of each method. Note: all of these recipes can be adapted to baby back ribs. Just cook for a little bit less time.
The first method I’m writing about is the fool proof 3-2-1 rib recipe. This method has gained a lot of popularity with home cooks in recent years because of the flawless results in churning out super tender fall off the bone ribs every time. While competition and traditional BBQ cooks will scoff at fall off the bone ribs, the truth is that most people just really like them that way. Judges for KCBS won’t give you a winning score, but they also won’t be hanging out in your backyard critiquing what you and your family are eating. So I say, cook what you like.
You like your ribs saucy? Put extra sauce on! You like your ribs to fall off the bone? Follow this method! These are your ribs after all. Don’t you let the man get you down. Just don’t.
Back to the method. I start with exposing my seasoned ribs (check out this post for a killer sweet/spicy pork rub recipe) to 3 hours of heavy heavy smoke over low heat. I prefer fruit woods (apple, cherry) when smoking pork, but other hardwoods (hickory, alder) also work really well with ribs. After the smoke, the ribs are foiled with a liquid of your choosing (I used apple cider, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and 2-3 tablespoons of butter) and cooked at 225-250 degrees for 2 hours. After the braising period I look for great retraction of the meat from the bones. I want the bones to be exposed on the end at least 1/4-1/2 an inch. Lastly, the ribs are basted in your favorite BBQ sauce and returned to the grill for a final hour to hour and a half to finish the ribs and set the sauce.
Sticky, sweet, tender and oh so savory. Pork ribs are probably the most requested meal when I ask what people want me to bring to potlucks or family dinners. I tend to fall back on 3-2-1 ribs for gatherings because I know that they will deliver that tender, flavorful porky flavor every time. And sometimes consistency is super important!
Stay tuned for post 2 in my RIBS series: Hot and Fast Ribs!