Fall of the bone ribs - is it the meat or the method?

Started by waynerto, April 24, 2022, 03:34:09 PM

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I smoked two racks of Baby Back ribs today, at the same time using the 3-2-1 method.  Both racks looked quite similar, one was slightly bigger than the other.  I had my smoker set to 230F and the temperature was typically around 210-230 as it is still cool here in Toronto.  I cut the racks in half to be able to fit better into the smoker.  These ribs were from my local butcher shop where I buy almost all of my meat.

When I was taking off the foil one of the racks had the meat completely falling away from the bones and I had to be careful to be able to do the last step.  With the other rack the meat was still firmly attached to the bones.  This makes me wonder if the biggest determinant of whether meat falls away from the bone is that specific piece of meat, as much as, or moreso, than the cooking method.

Habanero Smoker

Each rack can be different. When I smoke/cook more than one rack of spare ribs, it's rare that they all get done at the same time. I find myself pulling one of two racks off early. What causes ribs to be over cooked could be either depending on the circumstances, but more often than not it is the method you are using. In addition a lot depends on your equipment. The 3-2-1 method is a guide line for St. Louis style ribs being smoked at 225°F. They require a longer time to cook than Baby Backs. This is were equipment can come into play. The Bradley has a slow recovery, and you stated that the temperature range was 210 - 230 throughout the cook. So the additional time may be needed.

In your situation it seems like it was a difference in the meat, although your cook times are a little long for Baby Backs. You didn't mention which rack cooked faster or if you rotated the shelves, but most often it will be the thinner rack that cooks faster. Also cutting them in half, the thinner/smaller end will cook faster. If you didn't rotate the shelves, that could have caused that one rack to cook faster.



The tenderness of ribs can be influenced by both the meat and the cooking method. While the 3-2-1 method is fantastic for achieving fall-off-the-bone ribs, the quality and type of meat can also play a significant role.
Factors like the age of the animal, the cut of meat, and even how the ribs were handled before cooking can impact their tenderness. Additionally, some racks may have more connective tissue, which breaks down during cooking, leading to that perfect fall-off-the-bone texture.
If you're interested, you can check out some tips here for making your own beef bone broth to complement your rib smoking skills. Enjoy experimenting with different methods and cuts to find what works best for you!