I wanted to do ribs this weekend and couldn't decide which direction I wanted to go. The first time I ever cooked ribs was Car Wash Mike's method, but I do not always have the time pay as much attention during such a cook (I have four kids, fyi).
I've generally settled on the 3-2-1 method but remembered that it's resulted in destroyed bark and semi-mushy meat. I thought 3-1-1 would do the trick, but began to doubt myself. I want the meat to release cleanly from the bone, but generally don't want it to fall off the bone. Although, I did ruin a cook by skipping the foil stage and not cooking it until done and tough meat is the worst outcome.
I realized that I had never just trusted the Egg to do what the Egg does: magically keep meat moist. Since I was doing three racks, I decided to foil two ("braising" with brown sugar on one and plum jelly on the other) and to just keept one rack on the whole time.
I also decided to add rub to the meat for a few hours to let it "marinate". I usually just add it immediately prior to adding to the grill. Since my rub (homemade) is usually very predictable and almost impossible to overdo, I was a bit surprised when it turned out much saltier than usual. I think I will skip the pre-rubbing stage.
So what was the results? The no-foil was every bit as moist and had a much better bark (albeit a bit salty). I think the foil stage is superfluous if you have the time to make it to 5+ hours to smoke the ribs. I did so at 220 for the first hour and half that rose to and stuck at 250 for the last three and a half hours. The foil was fine. I preferred the brown sugar. When I foiled, I oriented them meat down and didn't add any more liquid before the stage. Not surprisingly, there was liquid in the foil at the end of the stage. I pulled them when I started seeing the meat pulling from the bone.
Based on today's results, these are my general future plans: my family likes sticky ribs so I'll add some Sweet Baby Rays in the last thirty minutes and bump the temp up a bit, 275 and keep it indirect. I prefer dry, so I'll keep one rack reserved (the ribs in the bowl are the ones I reserve for myself, cook's privilege). I do think I might spritz with the 1/2 vinegar/ 1/2 cider just to see if it makes a difference, but I really, really liked keeping it simple.
My lesson from this cook: I really don't know why I didn't trust the Egg to do what it does. The foil was fine, but why not take advantage of the Egg's magic?
Here are my pics: