The spare ribs 3-2-1 method is one of the most popular cooking methods for spare ribs on the barbecue. We are also a fan of the method, because it gives you tasty, tender and juicy ribs with a delicious crust.
Below we explain what this method entails and we will give you useful instructions. An additional advantage: it is not all that difficult.
What is the spare ribs 3-2-1 method?
The spare ribs 3-2-1 method consists of three phases:
- smoking the meat for 3 hours
- packing it for 2 hours
- coating it for 1 hour
The spare ribs are on the barbecue for a total of six hours. This is done at a temperature of 110 – 120 °C.
Cooking the spare ribs
First of all, we are going to make sure that the spare ribs are ready to be cooked. This means that we will first rinse the ribs under running water. This will remove loose splinters and grit. Then we will pat the meat dry.
Next, we will remove the silver skin. This is also called a membrane. The membrane is on the concave side of the spare ribs. To remove the membrane, place a knife behind the silver skin and flip it up. Then grab it with a paper towel, so that you have a better grip, and then pull it off.
Rubbing it with a dry rub
Now we are going to rub the spare ribs with a dry rub. Numerous rubs are suitable for this. Of course, you can also make the rubs yourself. Make your own or choose your favorite rub and coat the meat well with it. You need to coat the meat on both sides.
Preparing the barbecue
Now it’s time to get started with the barbecue. Prepare the barbecue for indirect grilling. Maintain a temperature of 110 – 120 °C.
In the meantime, place a handful of wood chips in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. Then let the wood chips drain for a while. The same applies here: choose your favorite flavor of wood chips. Also see what matches well with the rub and sauce that you are going to use. Commonly used flavors are cherry, apple and hickory.
Smoking the meat for 3 hours
When the barbecue has reached the desired temperature, the spare ribs can be placed on the barbecue. First, throw the wood chips on the coals and then place the ribs on the grid. Let the meat smoke for 3 hours.
Packing for 2 hours
After the ribs have cooked for the first 3 hours, we will pack them. You do this by putting a double layer of aluminum foil around the meat. While this should be tightly closed, the pieces of meat don’t need to be packed super tight. In this phase, the meat is supposed to steam, so that it becomes nice and tender.
Discussion point: many people sprinkle apple juice over the ribs when packing them. Others say that they get a better result by omitting this step. Other people even substitute the apple juice with butter. We say: experiment with this and see what tastes best.
Coating for 1 hour
In the last hour we will unwrap the ribs again. The inside is now nice and tender, but the outside is still a bit soft. The last hour ensures that the outside gets a nice crust.
Place the spare ribs on the grid and rub both sides of the meat with a brush. Don’t put too much sauce on it. Although it is supposed to caramelize, too much sauce can cause the sugars to burn. Repeat this again after half an hour.
The last hour can also be shortened to half an hour. This depends on what kind of spare ribs you have. Thick-meat spare ribs can be left on for an hour. If you have them with less meat, the hour can also be shortened.
When are the spare ribs ready?
Technically, the spare ribs are ready after the aforementioned step. If you still want to check on the meat to be sure, you can adhere to the following points.
- The flesh at the end of the bones has receded.
- You can pull the ribs apart.
- The spare rib bends when you lift it with tongs.
The spare ribs 3-2-1 method: a handy explanation and instructions
- 2 spare ribs
- dry rub prepared to your liking
- barbecue sauce prepared to your liking
- apple juice
- wood chips prepared to your liking
Preparing the spare ribs
- Rinse the spare ribs under cold running water and remove any grit. Then pat it dry with kitchen paper.
- Place the spare ribs with the concave side up and remove the membrane. You do this by placing a knife in the middle of the spare ribs behind the membrane and flipping it up. Then grab it with kitchen paper and pull it off.
- Rub both sides of the ribs with your favorite rub.
Preparing the barbecue
- Prepare the barbecue for indirect grilling. Maintain a working temperature of 110-120 °C.
- Meanwhile, place a handful of wood chips in a container of water and let them soak for ten minutes. Then drain them.
Cooking the ribs for 3 hours
- Now we are going to cook the spare ribs for 3 hours. When the barbecue has reached the desired temperature, sprinkle the wood chips on the coals. Then place the ribs on the grid. Possibly in a rib rack.
Packing the meat for 2 hours
- Remove the spare ribs from the barbecue and place them on aluminum foil. Sprinkle the ribs with a little bit of apple juice. Then wrap them in aluminum foil and put them back on the barbecue.
Coating the meat for 1 hour
- Take the ribs off the grill again. Unwrap them and put them back on the grid. Then rub both sides with the barbecue sauce. Do this again after half an hour.
- Remove the spare ribs from the barbecue and let them rest for ten minutes.