Smoking baby back ribs in the 2-2-1 or 3-2-1 methods are common ways to cook ribs. However, we have here the 2-1-1 baby back ribs recipe for you to follow and make your ribs better when cooked.
Baby back ribs are one of the most popular choices in fine dining restaurants. You can make them at home with the proper tools and appliances along with the simple skills required.
The main challenge when cooking baby back ribs is that you need to make sure that they cook all the way to the bone and become tender, which is not the easiest thing to do without tips.
You need to make sure that while you cook the ribs through, you do not dry them out. It is challenging as making sure that the meat does not dry out after a long cooking process is hard.
The baby back ribs need to have the right cooking temperature and environment to be cooked in. That is why there are many methods that you can find on the internet on how to cook them properly.
We have here one of the common methods that you can do when cooking baby back ribs. The 2-1-1 method is very easy and you can perfect it with a few practices using the recipe below.
What Is 2-1-1 Method For Ribs?
Most steaks are smoked with the 3-2-1 method as it helps them get that juicy finish along with a tender meat texture. This is good but it can be too harsh for a delicate cut such as the baby back ribs.
Baby back ribs do not need to be cooked for too long. The bone in them helps make them more tender so you just need enough cooking time to get the right 2-1-1 ribs temperature.
2-1-1 simply refers to the number of hours of smoking or the time that you need to cook the baby back ribs in. There are three parts of the process which means that you need 2,1, and 1-hour shifts for each part.
You can observe this same concept when smoking back ribs in the 2-2-1 or 3-2-1 method as well as with the 2-1-2 spare ribs method.
The first 2 hours are where you will cook the ribs without any wrappers on them yet and then cook it for another hour with the aluminum foil cover or wrap to secure the juices inside them.
Then there is the last hour where you remove the cover and cook some crust onto the ribs. It is pretty simple if you put it this way but you need to make sure that everything is ready.
I cannot say which is the most important step as you need all three parts of the process in order to make the baby back ribs tender and juicy but there is one that the process revolves around.
The second part where you wrap the ribs in aluminum foil is the part where you get the smoky flavors and other flavors you want.
Most people would add their favorite juices to it to create both glaze and juiciness.
This part of the method is also referred to as the Texas Crutch.
The liquid added to the aluminum foil braises the meat to help the heat break down the tough collagen in the meat.
Braising the meat is important because it will help it become tender. While it does add to the juiciness of the meat, the main purpose of the liquid is to break down the tough proteins and connective tissues.
You can also do 2-1-1 St. Louis-style ribs if it is available. The 2-1-1 St. Louis ribs recipe is as simple as the one below but the 2-1-1 St. Louis ribs is a little different in texture as it is more commonly cooked in the 3-2-1 method or competition-style ribs.
2-1-1 Baby Back Ribs
- 1 large rack of baby back ribs
- 3/4 cup of rib glaze
- 1/4 cup of apple juice
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons of onion powder
- 2 teaspoons of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon of paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Step 1: Prepare The Baby Back Ribs
The first step is to get the rack of ribs and defrost them properly by rinsing them with cold water or leaving them in the refrigerator overnight. Wash off any blood or liquid protein from the ribs before processing.
Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and then get your filleting knife ready.
Remove the silver skin or membrane by cutting one end of the thinner outer membrane and pulling it out with paper towels while guiding the shrap knife.
If there is too much fat on top of the ribs, remove some of them but make sure that you leave at least a quarter of an inch thick of fat. This will help the ribs to get a juicier finish when cooked.
Step 2: Season The Ribs
Mix all the ingredients together except for the glaze and the apple juice. Mix the ingredients in a bowl and then apply the dry rub to the ribs and then allow the seasoning to sit for at least 5 minutes.
Use your hands to massage the rib rub into the meat. Be generous with the seasoning to the point that you almost cover the whole rack of ribs as it will also help tenderize the meat a little bit.
Step 3: Preheat The Smoker
Prepare the smoker by putting a water pan on the bottom rack. If your smoker only has one rack, then you can put the tray beside the rack of ribs while it is cooking.
You can also opt not to use a tray of water as it is only optional and it will actually reduce the temperature inside the smoker but if you want to make the ribs juicier, then you can do this.
Set the temperature between 225 degrees and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the smoker preheat for 15 minutes with the lid closed to prevent any cold spots within the smoker.
You only need low heat or low temperature here so that the ribs do not burn too quickly. I also recommend using applewood chips as your fuel to make the smoky flavor milder as it does not release heavy smoke.
You can also set up your grill for indirect cooking or two-zone cooking if you cannot control the temperature that accurately.
Step 4: Smoke The Ribs
Place the ribs in the smoker once you have the right temperature. Allow the ribs to smoke for 2 hours without wrapping them with anything and adding wood into the firebox every now and then.
At the 1-hour mark, stop adding more wood as the smoker would have probably stabilized with the temperature. Prepare the glaze and a little apple juice while you are waiting.
After 2 hours, remove the rack of ribs from the smoker and then wrap ribs in aluminum foil. Add 1/4 cup of apple juice into the tin foil and then place the rib in the foil bone side down.
Smoke the ribs once again for another 1 hour before removing them from the aluminum foil. Unwrap the ribs and then brush a thin layer of glaze over the ribs before cooking it again.
The final step of the cooking process is where you cook the unwrapped ribs for the final hour without the aluminum foil. Glaze it every 20 minutes and then use a meat probe to measure the 2-1-1 ribs temperature.
Step 5: Rest And Serve
Once the rack of ribs reaches the recommended 2-1-1 ribs temperature or internal temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit, remove them from the smoker. Glaze them one more time if you want before letting them rest.
Let the ribs rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. This will help them get the juices back into the meat and create a juicer and more tender finish.
Serve with BBQ sauce if you want or with your favorite side dishes that will match the smoke flavor while the ribs are still hot!
Just like smoking baby back ribs in the 2-2-1 or 3-2-1 method, and the 2-1-2 spare ribs method, you need to make sure that the ribs are well-rested before serving them.