Memphis-Style BBQ Ribs
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Grilling (Gas or Charcoal)
Preparation in Advance
4 hours to overnight for marinating the ribs
Optional: 1.5 cups wood chips or chunks (hickory or own preference), soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover and drained
For the ribs and rub
Season to taste, treat the seasonings below as guidelines
3 racks baby back pork ribs (about 7 pounds), or 2 racks pork spareribs (6 to 8 pounds total)
0.25 cup paprika
4.5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4.5 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1.5 teaspoons celery salt
1.5 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
1.5 teaspoons dry mustard
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
For the mop sauce (optional) or use your own variation/favorite sauce:
2 cups cider vinegar
0.5 cup yellow (ballpark) mustard
2 teaspoons salt
1. Prepare the ribs and rub.
2. Combine the paprika, black pepper, brown sugar, salt, celery salt, cayenne, garlic powder, dry mustard, and cumin in a small bowl and whisk to mix. Rub two thirds of this mixture over the ribs on both sides, then transfer the ribs to a roasting pan. (Or wrap/cover in plastic wrap) Cover and let cure, in the refrigerator overnight or for 4 hours+.
3. Prepare the mop sauce (if using): Mix together the cider vinegar, mustard, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
4. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and place a large drip pan in the center.
If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat the grill to high; when smoke appears, reduce the heat to medium.
If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium. If you are using an oven, preheat your oven to 250F – preferably place the ribs on a grate on a pan to let the hot air circulate around the ribs. The ribs will be in the oven for approximately 3 to 4 hours – mop the ribs every 30 to 45 minutes. If using a thinner or more runny mop sauce, consider mopping the ribs more often (every 20-30 min.) After the slow cooking session, crank up the heat or broiler to high to give the outside a crisp.
5. When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips on the coals. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the ribs on the hot grate over the drip pan. Cover the grill and smoke cook the ribs for 1 hour.
6. When the ribs have cooked for an hour, uncover the grill and brush the ribs with the mop sauce (if using). Re-cover the grill and continue cooking the ribs until tender and almost done, 1/4 to 1/2 hour longer for baby back ribs, 1/2 to 1 hour longer for spareribs. The ribs are done when the meat is very tender and has shrunk back from the ends of the bones. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 10 to 12 fresh coals to each side after 1 hour. Fifteen minutes before the ribs are done, season them with the remaining rub, sprinkling it on.
7. To serve, cut the racks in half or, for a plate-burying effect, just leave them whole.