Tips & Tricks: 3-2-1 method
The 3-2-1 method is fairly well known in making ribs. This method lends its name to the 3 steps you will go through while cooking your meat.
In these tips & tricks I explain the steps to you.
The 3 step is not the third but the first step. In this step you are going to put your raw meat on the BBQ and let it smoke. This takes 3 hours, hence the name.
During this step it is very important that you do not let your meat dry out, which is why I usually spray my ribs with a liquid every half hour.
In this step the meat gets its bark.
At the second step we are going to pack our meat. By wrapping the meat with moist ingredients, the meat actually steams, which creates the fall of the bone effect.
Usually we wrap the meat with aluminum foil, but then you have the chance that the bark you received in the previous step will break off. As a result, some people opt to use butcher paper, which ensures that the meat can still steam but the excess steam is expelled by the paper, so that the bark stays in place.
We do this step, as its name says, for about 2 hours.
In this step we are going to let the meat become firmer again and possibly paint it a bit.
By putting the ribs back on the BBQ without the aluminum foil, they will absorb more "dry" heat and they will become firmer. This step is also used to coat your ribs with BBQ sauce to give them that extra flavor.
This step takes approximately 1 hour.
Not enough time?
To go through all the steps you quickly lose 6 hours. Now I know that not everyone wants to spend this time on ribs but the result is really phenomenal.
If you do not have enough time to make these ribs on the day of your BBQ, you can always do steps 3-2 a day in advance and the 1-step the day itself. Here you are going to prepare your ribs as you do with the pre-marinated ribs from the supermarket.
The 3-2-1 method was designed by the Americans. They usually use St-Louis style ribs, also called belly ribs. These ribs are much larger than our spare ribs, which are cut from the pig's back, and therefore take longer to cook.
If you really want to have fall of the bone ribs, you can apply this method perfectly, if you are not a fan of this, you can always play with the times. For example, I usually adjust the times to 2.5-1.5-0.5. Here you will cook the ribs 1.5 hours less and they feel a bit firmer.