RE: Competition Bound
Depends on whether you're doing spares (St. Louis cut) or loinbacks (babyback). My spareribs are usually cooked about 2 hours (or until the meat pulls back from the end of the bone about 1/4 inch and then foiled with a spray of apple juice (you can add a brushing of sauce at this time or another dose of rub) - The ribs then cook for another 1.5 - 2 hours - you really have to watch them or they'll over cook and fall off the bones.
Baby backs are even less time - maybe 2 hour to the foil but then only 1 hour of so before pulling them and putting them in a cooler. The cooler time is great for tenderness but also will "over cook" the ribs.
I hate to sound so vague but you've got to experiment a bit to find what works best for you. We usually have a 12 noon turn in for ribs (FBA) and so we usually have the ribs in the cooker at 7:00 a.m. So, we shoot for 5 hours total time - we've never "walked" on ribs and have rarely had a toughness problem!! Usually we overcook. But, as I said, that's what practice and experimentation is for.
Temp wise: We've tended to cook "hotter" at 250 or so but I'm thinking of cranking it back a bit closer to 225 in the future - see if we can get the nice long cook time and resulting tenderness without the "fall off the bone" problem!
Southern Brethren BBQ Competition Team
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