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There are two basic results for good barbecued ribs, fall of the bone and bite off the bone where you can bite the meat and it pulls from the bone but doesn’t fall off.  As She Who Must Be Obeyed likes bite of the bone, that is what I usually make. However, making fall of the bone ribs with the 3-2-1 method is a perfect way for beginner barbecue users to learn to make great ribs. I wanted to do some ribs for my ShawTV East Kootenays Community TV program, “You Can Make It”. 3-2-1 ribs were my choice for the shoot.

I started with a nice rack of meaty spareribs cut St. Louis style. This means the flap of meat and the connecting bone are cut off. You can use full spareribs or back ribs with this recipe. The recipe involves smoking or cooking the ribs with low heat for 3 hours. Then you foil them with liquid for 2 hours and cook with sauce for 1 hour.

I would point out this method works well for nice thick meaty ribs. If your ribs are leaner and thinner, reduce the smoking time from 3 hours to 2 1/2 hours. If the ribs are really thin, you could even cut the time to 2 hours.

I removed the silver skin from the bone side of the ribs by lifting a corner of it with a sharp knife. Then you grip the corner with paper towel and peel it off.

I used a commercial rub for the video but you could also make your own like my Basic Barbecue Rub. Give the surface of the ribs a generous layer of rub and work it in.

I generally do my ribs in a 230 F smoker. However, you can also light just one burner of a gas grill and turn it to low. Put the ribs over the unlit burner. You are looking for a temperature of 230 F in the grill. You can even do these ribs in a 230 F oven. Of course, only the smoker will give that nice smoke touch.

Put the ribs in the smoker, grill or oven and cook for 3 hours, brushing occasionally with apple juice.

Take the ribs inside and put them on a piece of foil large enough to fold over the ribs to make a pouch. Seal the sides of the pouch but leave the end open. Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of apple juice to the poucn and seal the end. Put the foil pouch in the smoker for 2 hours.

Take the ribs out of the foil and put in the smoker, grill or oven. Brush with a thin layer of barbecue sauce. Cook for 30 minutes and brush with a second layer of barbecue sauce. Cook for 30 minutes more.

Let the ribs sit for 10 minutes and serve.

The Verdict

These ribs were delicious. The meat falls from the bone but the last hour of cooking firms them up so that they have a great chew. Try it! You’ll like it!

The Old Fat Guy

This dish is the first item I make in episode 16 of my community TV program, You Can Make It.

3-2-1 Spareribs

3-2-1 Spareribs


  • 1 rack spareribs
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) barbecue rub
  • 175 ml (1 3/4 cups) apple juice
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) barbecue sauce


  1. Remove silver skin from back of ribs by peeling up a corner, grasping it with a paper towel and pulling it off.
  2. Sprinkle the rub over the ribs and rub it in.
  3. Smoke in a smoker or over low indirect heat in a grill or in an oven at 230 F for 3 hours. Brush occasionally with apple juice.
  4. Put the ribs in a foil pouch with 125 ml (1/2 cup) of apple juice and cook for 2 hours.
  5. Take the ribs out of the foil and brush on a thin layer of barbecue sauce. Cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Brush on a second layer of barbecue sauce and cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.
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5 Responses

  1. I’ve never tried apple juice that sounds great David. This one is a must try for me. I don’t have a smoker but will use my gas grill and some apple wood for a smoke flavor. Thanks!!

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