Memphis-Style Ribs

In Memphis, pork ribs can be the traditional meaty cut or the smaller baby backs, but the ribs are always cooked “dry.” A spicy red rub is applied at least a couple of hours ahead of grilling. The ribs may be kept moist during grilling with a vinegary mop sauce, but any additional sauce is served on the side, and many locals forgo sauce altogether.


3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


6 lb. pork baby back ribs or spareribs, cut into 6-inch pieces if desired


3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup beer or ginger ale, divided
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cups purchased barbecue sauce

1. Combine all rub ingredients in small bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons for grilling. Apply remaining rub onto both sides of ribs. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

2. For mop sauce, combine vinegar, 1/4 cup of the beer and mustard in small bowl until mustard is dissolved. For serving sauce, combine barbecue sauce and remaining 1/2 cup beer in medium bowl.

3. When ready to grill, set up grill as follows. For charcoal grills: Heat coals in center of grill to medium heat. Divide coals, placing half on each side of grill, leaving center open. Place drip pan between coals.

For gas grills: Light two outside sections, leaving middle section unlit (three-burner grill). Or light one side and leave other side unlit (two-burner grill). Place drip pan on unlit side. Heat on high until hot. Reduce heat to medium.

4. Grill ribs over drip pan, covered, 1 hour, turning once or twice. Brush with mop sauce. Grill an additional 45 to 60 minutes or until ribs are fork-tender, brushing with mop sauce every 15 minutes. Sprinkle with reserved 2 tablespoons rub 10 minutes before ribs are done cooking. Serve ribs with serving sauce.

6 servings

PER SERVING: 1050 calories, 67.5 g total fat (24.5 g saturated fat), 65.5 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 265 mg cholesterol, 1635 mg sodium, 3.5 g fiber

Serve 'em with a side of the Best Salt-and-Pepper Baked Fries.

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