You can just let your BBQ ribs smoke as they are but many people swear by what is known as the 3-2-1 method
. This method calls for smoking the ribs unwrapped for three hours followed by two hours wrapped in heavy duty foil. The ribs finish up with one additional hour unwrapped. This process allows the ribs to be exposed to smoke for 4 hours while they steam in their own juiced for two hours. This makes the ribs more tender but can cause them to become a little too tender. If you want the rib meat to stick to the bone then you might want to skip the wrapping. If, however, you prefer fall of the bone ribs, then you definitely wrap them for the two hours.
A full rack of spare ribs should be smoked for roughly 6 hours. During the first few hours is when the meat absorbs the most smoke flavor. This is why it is important to make sure that you are producing a good supply of smoke during this time.
Just to make sure you are clear follow these steps:
- 3 hours unwrapped on the smoker
- 2 hours wrapped tightly (air tight) in foil on the smoker
- 1 hour unwrapped on the smoker.
If you are using baby back ribs then the cooking time should be about 5 hours. If you want to wrap your baby backs reduce the first phase to 2 hours.