My Husband’s Memphis-Style Ribs

July is a busy month in our household. First there’s Independence Day, which involves lots of swimming in Mom & Dad’s pool, potato salad, and the Rochester-required Zweigle’s red & white hots (I prefer the white hots with horseradish, mustard, & relish). Next up is my birthday, which was last Sunday. We usually have family over for dinner & cake, and since I love cooking & party planning there is often a theme. One year it was Hawaiian (with coconut shrimp, sushi, and everybody wearing leis), last year I did a shrimp boil, and for my 30th I had a lobster-themed party (complete with its own soundtrack, pin-the-tail-on-the-lobster game, and an awesome chocolate cake made by my sister in the shape of a lobster trap). This year I didn’t have a strict “theme,” I just knew that I wanted my husband to cook his Memphis-style ribs. (Hey, when you’re almost 9 months pregnant you’re allowed to plan a party around a craving!)

These ribs are really delicious, but they do take some effort (thanks honey!). The flavor that’s imparted into the meat from the long smoking process is heavenly, and the ribs end up very tender. These are coated in a sweet-spicy rub which has all the right flavors to complement the meat (rather than overwhelm it like a sticky, gloppy sauce). We rounded out our meal with my Mom’s melon salad, my mother-in-law’s baked beans, and a corn-tomato-bacon-lettuce salad with blue cheese dressing.

Now it’s time to prep for the rest of July–our 9 year wedding anniversary and a baby that is due in 5 days. Oh yeah, the next couple of weeks are going to be busy!

My Husband’s Memphis-Style Ribs (spice rub adapted from The Barbecue! Bible)

  • 2 full racks of pork ribs
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Equipment: charcoal grill, hickory wood chips, large aluminum drip pans
  1. Trim the excess fat off of the ribs. Trim the membrane off the bone side of the ribs. Cut the racks in half (this makes them easier to manage on the grill). In a small bowl mix together the remaining ingredients. Rub the spice mixture all over the ribs. Put the ribs on a platter, cover with plastic wrap, & refrigerate for at least 2 hours (and up to 24 hours).
  2. Soak some of the hickory chips in water for at least 30 minutes. Set up a charcoal grill with hot coals piled up on the left side of the grill and a couple aluminum drip pans on the right side. Drape a piece of aluminum foil over one of the grill grates just to the right of the coals so that it blocks the direct heat from the right side of the grill. Place a small handful of the soaked hickory chips on top of the hot coals. Put ribs on the right side of the grill over the drip pans. Cover the grill so that the lid’s vent holes are over the ribs. Adjust the vent holes so that you have a steady stream of smoke coming out of the vents.
  3. Barbecue the ribs for 4 hours. (You will need to check on the coals and wood chips fairly often to make sure that the coals are staying hot and you aren’t running out of smoke. You will have to add more coals and wood chips to keep everything hot & smoking. You should also flip the ribs every 30 minutes or so to keep them cooking & smoking evenly.)
  4. Take the ribs off the grill and cover them with foil. Let the ribs rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Serves: 8

Time: 1 hour prep, 2 hours chilling, 4 hours on the grill

Note: Yeah, these take awhile. But they’re worth it, I swear. Grab a beer (or other cold beverage) and a shady spot and enjoy a summer afternoon outside.

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