There’s no feeling quite like cooking a delicious pork rib and seeing the meat just fall right off the bone. It’s what a ton of aspiring grill-masters strive for whenever they cook ribs for themselves. Some people think you need years of experience to perfect the way you cook your ribs, but you can actually learn rather quickly if you understand the methods that the masters use. If you plan on smoking your ribs and you want them to be fall-off-the-bone tender, you need to remember only three words: low and slow.
Obviously, there’s a little more to the process than just that, but understanding the low-and-slow method of cooking will get you most of the way there. In this article, we’ll look a little deeper into the low-and-slow method for smoking ribs, diving into why the method works as well as it does and giving you a basic guide to follow for the next time you want to give it a try yourself.
As with many aspects of cooking, practice makes perfect, which is all the reason you need to keep smoking and eating more ribs until you get them just right!
What Is the Low-and-Slow Method?
You can probably guess what the “low-and-slow” method of smoking ribs is just by reading the words, but it’s always good to start with the basics. The low-and-slow method involves smoking your meat with a low heat for a long period of time. If you’ve ever had ribs that were tough to chew, that were dry as a desert, or that you had to fight to tear off the bone, you likely had ribs that weren’t smoked low and slow for that perfect texture.
Why Is Low and Slow the Right Way To Cook Ribs?
Pork ribs can give a lot of people trouble because they aren’t the easiest things to cook. Unlike with simpler cuts of meat, you can’t slap them on a grill without a plan and expect them to turn out the way you want them to. This is because ribs are naturally tougher than a lot of other meats, so you need to break them down slowly through cooking. Low and slow works best for this because it gives the meat plenty of time to break down and become more tender—without losing all its moisture in the process. When you use too much direct heat, that heat saps the juices out of the final product, leaving you with tough meat that no one will enjoy.
As tasty as good ribs are, there’s no way to streamline the smoking process. If you want the best smoked ribs possible, low and slow is the only way to go.
A Simple Low-and-Slow Method
True masters of smoking and grilling develop many of their own techniques that they know will work for them, but you don’t need a decade of experience before you can smoke excellent ribs. One simple low-and-slow method for smoking ribs is the three-two-one method. Your mileage may vary in terms of personal taste, but this is a simple method that almost anyone can manage without any problems.
Preparing the ribs for the smoker is the first step to cooking any ribs. There’s usually a membrane on the undersides of racks of ribs that you’ll want to peel off before you begin. Once you remove the membrane, you can add a generous amount of your dry rub of choice to the meat and leave the rub to penetrate deeper for about an hour or so. For a fantastic pork rib dry rub for sale, Williams Food Co. recommends our award-winning Rib Tickler dry rub for ribs that will blow anything else you’ve had out of the water.
Then, you can continue on to the three-to-one method:
The First Smoke: Nice and Long
The “three” in the three-two-one method refers to how long the first round of smoking should last. Place the ribs in your smoker at about 225 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours. A smoker is your best bet for the taste you want, but there are ways to simulate a smoker with a gas grill if you don’t have one. Resist the urge to continually check on your ribs as they cook! Constantly opening the smoker to check on them will release a ton of heat and ruin the process.
The Second Smoke: Tenderize
For the “two” of the three-two-one method, you want to take out your ribs and wrap them in foil after the first three hours of cooking. This will give them the environment they need to steam, which will break down the unpleasant texture of the connective tissues. You can add some liquid to the bottom of the foil before closing it up if you wish. Different people use different liquids depending on their tastes; beer, juice, or soda are all common additions at this stage. Put the foil-wrapped ribs back in the smoker for another two hours, still at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Final Smoke: Sauce and Finish
The “one” is the last step for smoking perfect ribs. Remove the ribs from the foil, taking care that they don’t fall off the bone too early, as they’re likely quite tender at this point. Place the ribs back on the smoker rack and brush on whichever barbecue sauce you prefer to finish them off, ideally something that will complement your dry rub. Close up the smoker and leave the ribs to cook for one final hour at the same temperature. Once that hour is up, your ribs are ready to serve. They should be incredibly tender and easily fall right off the bone with little effort on your part.
The three-two-one method is just one low-and-slow method you can try. When you start to get the hang of it, don’t be afraid to try out different techniques and find whatever works best for your tastes.
For all your smoking and grilling needs, you won’t find flavors like the ones Williams Food Co. offers anywhere else. We have a long tradition of creating the best seasonings and rubs you can find, and we love nothing more than sharing our passion with fellow lovers of good food.