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Smoking Pork Ribs on an Ugly Drum Smoker using the 3-2-1 smoking method

The biggest complaint most people have with ribs is that they turn out dry and tough. The 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs nearly guarantees you tender, fall off the bone ribs with out a lot of extra effort. All you need to use this method is to big sheet of aluminum foil. Everything else follows the normal process of smoking ribs.

3-2-1 Basics: If you know how to smoke pork ribs, then all you need to know about the 3-2-1 method is that you smoke as normal for 3 hours, followed by 2 hours cooking wrapped in foil, and finally 1 more hour unwrapped. This gives the meat time to soak in smoke during the first three hours, when most smoke is absorbed. During the wrapped period the ribs are steamed, making them tenderer and loosening the meat from the bone. During the last hour the ribs are exposed to the dry, smoky heat again to form a surface crust.

The Steps:

1. Prep the ribs by removing the membranes and applying your rib rub
2. Place ribs, bone side down in smoker at 225 degrees F. (108 degrees C.) and cook for three hours
3. Wrap ribs tightly in aluminum foil to form an airtight seal, return to smoker bone side up and smoke for 2 hours
4. Unwrap ribs and return to smoker bone side down for 1 hour
5. Apply sauce to ribs (if you want) during the last 30 to 20 minutes of the cooking time

Variations: The 3-2-1 method is specifically designed for pork spareribs and the timing works best for that cut of rib. If you prefer back ribs then you should use a 2-2-1 method for the ribs or they will get overcooked and dry out. If long term smoking isn’t something you are up to you can place wrapped ribs in the oven and finish them off (at a low temperature) on a grill or in the oven. Since most of the smoke flavor is delivered in the first three hours this method won’t affect the overall outcome too much.

The Downside: The 3-2-1- method gives you tender, fall of the bone ribs. Most people think this is the pinnacle of smoked ribs. However it probably won’t win you any barbecue competitions. For many people a good rib as meat that holds the bone but doesn’t stick to it. In other words the meat should pull away cleanly from the bone when you bite, but certainly not fall off. The wrapped cooking causes steaming and the steaming loosens the meat from the bones. Of course, not wrapping your ribs means you run the risk of dry, tough ribs.

From: http://bbq.about.com/od/ribs/a/aa122306a.htm

Smoking Split Chicken Breasts on an Ugly Drum Smoker

Decided to smoke some split chicken breasts for dinner tomorrow. After thawing out the chicken I seasoned it with BBQ seasoning and sea salt, then lit my charcoal chimney. This time I didn’t wait until the entire chimney was burning but waiting until about 1/4 of it was lit. I wanted to keep the temperature in the smoker lower then normal to give it a longer smoke time. Though, keeping the temperatures low was my intentions, it didn’t happen that way. I should have closed more of the air valves sooner. The graph below shows the temperature incline up to 265 in the first hour. Next time, I’ll close down 3 of the 4 air valves sooner.

Temperature Graphs

Raw Data

# Time Smoker Temp Open Valves Meat Temp Extra
1 6:30 pm 140 4 70
2 7:00 pm 170 4 100
3 7:30 pm 265 1 162
4 7:52 pm 250 1 180 alarm 180
5 8:15 pm 270 1 200 alarm 200

Photo Gallery

Smoking a Pork Butt in an Ugly Drum Smoker

The rundown
Tonight I smoked my first 3 1/2 lb pork butt in my ugly drum smoker. I had a hard time maintaining a even temperature with the Central Market Lump Mesquite Charwood. I might need to crush it to make it burn more evenly.

I already had about 10lbs of the Mesquite Charwood in the smoke from 2 previous trials and I added another 3 lbs of partially lite material from my chimney.

Before placing the pork butt on the heat I seasoned it with a little paprika, season salt, black pepper, garlic salt and minced onions.

I cooked the meat from and internal temp of 75 degrees to 182 degrees, allowing it to rest for over 30 minutes.

Recipe for a pulled pork sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp mustard
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

As displayed below, I checked the temp of the UDS every 10 mins and the internal temperature of the meat every hour. I really could have used a wireless thermometer last night.

On the way home this evening, I picked up a Maverick Redi-Chek ET-72 Wireless Thermometer

Temperature Information

Actual Data Recorded (Smoker and Meat Temperatures)

30 minute and 1 hour averages (Smoker)

Temperature Information Raw Data

# Time Smoker Temp Valves Meat Temp Extra
1 6:00 pm 210 all open
2 6:10 pm 250 -1
3 6:20 pm 250
4 6:30 pm 260 -1
5 6:40 pm 250
6 6:50 pm 230
7 7:00 pm 220 +1 75.3
8 7:10 pm 270
9 7:20 pm 280 -1
10 7:30 pm 270
11 7:40 pm 260
12 7:50 pm 255
13 8:00 pm 250 -1 122
14 8:10 pm 290 -1/2
15 8:20 pm 260 -1/4
16 8:30 pm 225
17 8:40 pm 210
18 8:50 pm 195 +1/4
19 9:00 pm 200 157
20 9:10 pm 225
21 9:20 pm 185 +1/4
22 9:30 pm 180 +1
23 9:40 pm 195
24 9:50 pm 235 -1
25 10:00 pm 225 151
26 10:10 pm 270
27 10:20 pm 260 -1/2
28 10:30 pm 260
29 10:40 pm 240
30 10:50 pm 230 +1/4
31 11:00 pm 230 168
32 11:10 pm 270
33 11:20 pm 265
34 11:30 pm 265
35 11:40 pm 255
36 11:50 pm 250
37 12:00 am 240 +1/4 164
38 12:10 am 260
39 12:20 am 240
40 12:30 am 230 +1
41 12:40 am 235
42 12:50 am 240
43 1:00 am 250 178 foil
44 1:10 am 280
45 1:20 am 280
46 1:30 am 280 182

Photo Gallery : Taken every hour.

Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS)

I build my first “Ugly Drum Smoker” or “UDS” a couple weeks ago when a cold front prevented me from fiber glassing my boat. From the forums I’ve read, the UDS can use about 5 to 10 lbs of charcoal or hard wood lump coal and burn between 10 and 12 hours. I’ll be testing it out this weekend on some chicken. It should be good!

Estimated cost to build was less then $80. I should be able to smoke an entire turkey for Thanksgiving.

I did use zinc plated bolts and nuts, but I de-zinc’d them with a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice (not pictured).

Final Picture.