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Any advice for my first attempt at spare ribs?

ChetRipleyChetRipley Posts: 2
I'm a relatively new egg user looking for some helpful advice on how best to cook spare ribs.  I have a homemade dry rub that I've used in the past and enjoy, so my question is more directed at methods as opposed to flavor.  Particularly, what can I do to ensure tender ribs (time, temp, foil, etc)? This doesn't mean the meat completely falls off the bone, instead I prefer a little hold but still tender.  Do you recommend any time in the oven or solely cooking on the egg? 

I can only imagine the debate this could start, but any advice is much appreciated.  Thanks.


  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 16,782
    edited May 2013

    Temp-I run indirect around 260*F +/- (don't worry about +/-10-15*F).  Time- I have had spares finish in 3-4 hours and others take 5+ hrs (see below for finish indicators).  WRT foil and the cook method-see the rest:  In my experience the only way you get "fall off the bone" is to foil.  I work on the preps and then shift to the "let the BGE do its thing" mode which means no interference til time to check for doneness.  I generally trim spares "St Louis style" and use the flap meat as cook's treat and/or toss in some beans.


    All rib cooks are some variation around X-0-0 which translates into the following: Basically ribs are cooked as usual (bone side down for me) for the first X hours. Then they are removed from the cooker and wrapped with liquid (Q sauce, some other liquid for flavoring etc) in a foil pouch with the meat side down. This becomes step -0- mentioned above. The sealed ribs are then returned to the cooker.  At the end of the "0" time-frame, the ribs are removed from the foil and then put back on the BGE for the final "0" time-frame.  This is when sauce is added if your desire.  X-X-X defines the cook cycle.  Those of us X-0-0 run without any of the above extras.  It's all in what you like. And to determine when they are finished-the bend test if you have full racks-pick them up on one end and if they bend around 90* they are finished.  Another method-use a toothpick and insert in the thickest meat-in and out with no resistance and finished. Also look for a good meat pull-back on the bones.   Enjoy the cook.

    Louisville;  L & S BGEs, PBC, Lang 36; Burnin' wood in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer.  
  • cookinfuncookinfun Posts: 129
    As Lou said..with a potential pitfall / variation.  Cooked four full racks of spares this last weekend.  Prepped slabs by trimming the meat to allow exposure of the rib bones; and all the trimmings, most substantial, were placed on a third rack.  So, using the AR, lowest ( cooler ) level was the trimmings, and the next two upper levels were the four racks.  Cooked at 225-250F Dome for 3 hrs, removed for foiling.  When I removed I noted that the upper rack was "bending" more than normal, showing more done.  So I switched tpo and middle racks, leaving the pieces below, with the thot that with no bone, the cooking temp was less.  Sprayed with appl juice / cider vinegar during the wrap.  Well, I removed from wrap after 1 hr,  put back on egg, and removed 45 in later. 

    Wow, done this many times before but the ribs this time turned out more than great.  The lowest level was left on for additional half - 1 hour, and also were great.

    I guess what I'm sayin is that even the levels ( heights ) in the dome greatly affects the doneness.

    Well,this is just my input for a three level cook...only took me many cooks for it to register in my head.
    (2) LBGEs,  WSM, Vidalia Grill (gasser), Tailgater Grill (gasser)
  • texbaggertexbagger Posts: 90
    edited May 2013
    is where I got my best info on ribs.  Nobody knows ribs like meat head!

    The only time I foil my ribs is NEVER!  They get steamed when you do that, and will entirely fall off the bone and IMHO that does not make the best eating experience.  I love the bark on the ribs and find when I wrap in foil, that softens the bark and makes them a bit mushy and too tender.  Again, this is my preference, you need to experiment and cook the way YOU want and like your meat.  If you don't succeed, try another method you read about.  Someday, you will hit that PERFECT combo you like. I have wrapped in foil, wrapped in towel, and them dropped in cooler which also works if you want to keep them nice and hot and fresh for a few hours before serving.  Some say dropping in the cooler is good enough.  Try it, figure it out, you'll never regret the journey!
  • cookinfuncookinfun Posts: 129
    Well, in reply to Tex... I found that if the spares are visibly fatty, I cook lo-temp, straight thru, to render off the excess fat.  If the ribs are "normal"  (whatever that is) I 50% foil and use the 3-1-1 method. I guess it depends on ht e ribs, cooking method / bbq grill type, etc.  I guess persuing the perfect rib, altho elusive, can be reached.  I'm still lookin...
    (2) LBGEs,  WSM, Vidalia Grill (gasser), Tailgater Grill (gasser)
  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273

    Foil is a time management technique.  Granted, when you foil you lose bark quality.

    I cooked ribs over the weekend, got in a hurry ( I was hungry) - so I foiled.

    Foiling is not a step, its an option.

    Cookin in Texas
  • ChetRipleyChetRipley Posts: 2
    Thanks guys, this is great advice.  I'm going to stear clera of the foil as I agree very much with Tex, I don't want to steam them and I do enjoy some nice bark on the outside.  I'll take some pics and let you guys know how it goes.  Thanks again!
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