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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.

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Old 01-09-2012, 08:50 AM   #1
Knows what a fatty is.
Join Date: 08-26-11
Location: Cobourg, Ont, Canada
Default Foil vs No Foil - The Test

So I had a couple of racks of back ribs needing to get used up. I've always been a no foil q'er and decided to give it a whirl with a head to head test. Loaded up both racks with Plowboys Yardbird. Decided to run the 3-2-1 method. Both racks on for 3 hours on Egg with big chunk of hickory running at 225-230 degrees. After 3 hours one rack into foil with apple juice and brown sugar top and bottom. Back on to Egg. Non foil rack got a good basting of just apple juice. Both looked reeeeeal good at 3 hours. Since the racks were a bit on the small side I went about 1.5 hours with the foil. Removed the foil and both racks still looked exceptionally good. Grabbed the foiled ribs and broke in two. Guess they were done Other rack had a good bend, but not quite done. Gave them both another 20 minutes, sauced with Canadian Club smoked honey sauce, and let go another 15 minutes. Off the Egg, tented with foil, and rested 15 minutes. Carved them up and then "tested". Have to say the foiled ones were very good. Both racks were done, each had a distinct texture and mild flavour difference. In the end we gave the foiled ones a wee bit of an advantage in overall quality, but just barely. I'll definetly try again, but maybe go with a 3-1-1 or 2-1-1. Never thought I'd use a Texas Crutch, but glad I tried. Learned something.
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Old 01-09-2012, 08:56 AM   #2
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Was reading Chris Liley's book this weekend, and he says there's one consideration:

Foil will speed up your cook, but sometimes at a price. The excess moisture can wash away some of your smoke and seasonings.
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:04 AM   #3
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:11 AM   #4
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I'm glad you ran a head-to-head. Often times we debate here with experience in only one technique, or the two techniques but not at the same time... Good job and glad you enjoyed the results.
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:29 AM   #5
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Thanks for the write up. It is always good to see others trying things and posting detailed results.

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Old 01-09-2012, 10:08 AM   #6
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Thanks for the write up!
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Old 01-09-2012, 10:23 AM   #7
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Thanks for sharing. It is something I got on my list to try out also. Do you think you're preference was based on the tenderness & moisture of the ribs or the added sweetness from the added brown sugar? I like ribs without sauce and more savory ribs than sweet, so this would probably influence me with your test.

You must have been cooking at low temperatures, because at those temps I was expecting even the non-foiled ribs to be falling off the bone. 3-2-1 is typically for spares, which take longer than babybacks and I've read lots of people say 2 hours in foil is too long for that. Lots will depend on your cooker, temps, and meat.

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Old 01-09-2012, 10:57 AM   #8
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Thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-09-2012, 11:03 AM   #9
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3-2-1 is a guideline that was developed for untrimmed spares at 225. It will produce overcooked loin backs. 2-2-1 is closer for loin backs.
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Old 01-09-2012, 11:07 AM   #10
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Old 01-09-2012, 11:17 AM   #11
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All in all the two racks were not really a whole lot different. I got what I was sort of expecting with a couple of suprises. The foiled rack was marginally moister and indeed had a slightly sweeter taste due to the brown sugar I presume. I was a little suprised when they came out of the foil how good the bark was. I was sort of expecting a duller sheen due to "steaming" of the apple juice. The non foiled ribs were still VERY good, but the meat was a little firmer and maybe a little less stringy so to speak. Both had nice external bark and coloration prior to saucing. I would have servered either style to friends or family without hesitation. I followed the 3-2-1 as a guideline because of earlier posts. I usually do my back ribs for about 4-5 hours tops at 230, but again in other posts a lot suggested 6. I guess I was testing more things than just foil vs non foil in hindsight. Looking back my only wish was I had two racks that were more closely matched in size, shape, and density to have a better test. I learned quite a bit and I'm glad I did it. Guess I'll just have to get another couple of racks and do some more "testing"
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Last edited by AD18; 01-09-2012 at 11:22 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 01-09-2012, 11:36 AM   #12
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When I use foil I foil for no more than an hour and I get a nice manicured pullback. And in general, I only foil when I'm really pressed for time which is often when people arrive early and ask me 'how much longer for the ribs to get done?'.
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Old 01-09-2012, 11:41 AM   #13
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great test! thanks for doin the extra work and sharing it with us.
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Old 01-09-2012, 11:44 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by likeadeere View Post
great test! thanks for doin the extra work and sharing it with us.

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Old 01-09-2012, 12:14 PM   #15
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I'm an unashamed foil fan. On BB's I usually do 2 hrs on grate, 1 hr in foil and back on until done. Keeps them from becoming too fall aparty. I spray the ribs heavy with a mix of AJ/Cider Vinegar and sprinkle on a little bit more rub when they go into foil. I haven't heard anyone complain yet.

Oh, and I cook them a little hotter 250-275
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