memorial day

Memorial Day Ribs 2019

Last year I didn’t make ribs for Memorial Day. I was sad. It was really hot; I think it rained a lot too. But, this year, I am going to make bbq ribs once more – continuing 9 years of tradition (video)


2 slabs (~6 lbs) of baby back ribs

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup tablespoons paprika
1/4 cup tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder

Potato Salad and Pinto Beans

Put It Together

Barbie made the potato salad and pinto beans. I made the ribs and sausage. The sausage was Slovacek (pre-cooked) sausage so it was easy; put it on the rib pan 30 minutes before they’re done.

Cooking ribs requires patience, but they were easy enough: thaw for 2 hours, cook rubbed ribs 2 hours, cook foil covered for 2 hours, finish naked w/ sauce for 30 minutes.


As always, Barbie’s potato salad was delicious. The beans were very good. The ribs were tender, but I think they dried out (over cooked) a little bit.

beans and potato salad
ribs and sausage

Memorial Day Ribs 2017

I cooked ribs again this year, but the level of enthusiasm was really low: I didn’t cook them until Memorial Day Monday and no one suggested/volunteered sides.

I bought 2 packs seasoned – “Kansas Style” seasoning – in the bag ribs. I cooked them in the oven covered for 2 hours, then based with sauce and uncovered for 1 hour, then re-based and covered with sauce for 1 hour.

They came out great. So I think I found the secret.

I made store bought beans and frozen corn for sides.

Memorial Day Ribs 2016

So, I’ve been doing this for six years now. This year May was one for the weather books – we nearly didn’t (couldn’t) bbq outside. In the last week we’ve had flooding, tornadoes, and damage all around us. But today, the Sunday before Memorial Day, it was partly sunny and 90 degrees. It’s time to bbq ribs.

We had the usual suspects – with a twist: this year it’s baby back ribs, my variation of Memphis Dust rub, Barbie’s potato salad, beans, and a dessert.


2 slabs (~8 lbs) of baby back ribs

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup tablespoons paprika
1/4 cup tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder

Barbie’s potato salad was delicious! I didn’t try the dessert she made, but by the “yumm” and “this is good” comments I gathered it was delicious too.

Memorial Day ribs 2016The ribs were good, but it took a while to repair them. First off, they were the largest baby back ribs I’ve ever seen (3.7 lbs and 3.8 lbs). Second, I had the oven at 250 the whole time. I started cooking them at 12:30 PM, wrapped up without the rub in an aluminum pan; I brined them but forgot to rub them. I uncovered them at 2:30 and added rub. I covered them again at 3:30. I uncovered them at 4:30 and covered them again at 5:00. I left them covered until 7:00, when they finally showed signs of tenderness. I left them open while I started the grill. I put them in the grill from 7:30 to 8:00. We finally ate around 8:30. That was a long day of tending to ribs.

I think where I went wrong was the double cover of aluminum: foil in a pan. I think last year I put them on a baking sheet. Also, I thought last year I started with uncovered for 2 hours, then sauce, then covered for 2 hours. Also, I think these ribs were closer to St. Louis cut then baby back size.

Memorial Day Ribs 2015 – Don’t Mess With Success

I started thinking about my Memorial Day ribs back on May 1st. It’s a tradition now. I’ve made ribs on Memorial Day weekend for five years! I think last year’s ribs were the best, so I don’t want to mess with success. This year I’ll oven-bake them first, then finish them outside in a smoke-filled grill; weather permitting.

Although Memorial Day Memphis Style sounds cool, I can stop calling them Memphis style because they’re more of a combination of Central Texas style and dry, Memphis style ribs. There’ll be some kind of thick, tomato-based sauce on the table if we need it. We like Sweet Baby Ray’s.

The new phrase this year is “dry brining.” Basically dry brining is lightly salting the meat 1 to 2 hours before cooking. Last year, Meathead (remember him from removed the salt from his Memphis Dust rub recipe. Now he applies a dry brine for 2 hours then rubs the ribs with Memphis Dust.


3 slabs (~10 lbs) of St. Louis cut spare ribs

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder

(Charro beans)
1 lbs pinto beans
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 lbs bacon

1 lbs bag coleslaw mix
white sugar
cider vinegar
lemon juice

(Potato salad)
5 lbs Russet potatoes
dill relish
sweet relish
yellow mustard

Make the sides

Vincent made charro beans.

Katie made coleslaw.

Barbie made potato salad.

Bake the ribs in the oven (4 hours)

Wash off the ribs, take off the membrane, and coat them with a thin layer of kosher salt; use about 1/4 teaspoon per pound. While the ribs are brining, mix the rub ingredients together. After an hour, apply the rub and put the ribs in a 250 F oven uncovered, bone-side down, for 2 hours.

Take the ribs out, brush them with barbecue sauce, wrap them in aluminum foil, and put them back in the oven for another 2 hours. Now take the ribs out, carefully unwrap them, and check if the bones pull away from the meat. If not, wrap them up, put them in the oven, and come back and check on them again in 15 minutes. When the bones start to slide they’re ready for the grill.

Finish them on the grill (15 minutes)

You can finish them under the broiler in the oven or in a covered grill (outside). If you want to finish them in the oven, paint them with sauce, lay them in a baking pan, bones down, uncovered, about 6 inches from the broiler for 10 minutes.

If you want to finish them with a smokey grill, prepare the grill for indirect heat. When the temperature stabilizes (no flames with charcoal) place wood chips on the coals/flames. Place the ribs on the opposite side the grill from the coals/flames. Smoke the ribs for at least 15 minutes (YMMV). Check internal temperature or pull on the bones every 5 minutes.

Remember – Memorial Day isn’t about sales, or parties, or bbq. Memorial Day is about remembering fallen veterans.

Memorial Day Ribs 2014

Ladies and gentlemen it’s that time once again when we strive for tender ribs, tasty sides, and family time – it’s Memorial Day weekend 2014. Last year – you’ll recall – I smoked the ribs on the grill for 1 hour then oven-baked them for 3-4 hours. This year I’m going to reverse that process: oven bake first then finish up on the grill.

Inspiration from Fall Off the Bone Oven Baked Pork Spareribs with Sweet & Spicy Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Well, I delayed getting the ribs a little too long this year, and Kroger (our local grocery store) put spare ribs on sale on the Wednesday before Memorial Day (Monday). Needless to say they were sold out by Friday. All I had to pick from was plastic-wrapped, marinated St. Louis cut spare ribs (Chipotle or Kansas City flavored); I work with what I got. This will be different. I’m starting off with two slabs of marinated ribs. What is Kansas City flavor?

Bake Them

Remove the membrane. Put the rubbed (or marinated) ribs, uncovered, bones down, in an aluminum-lined baking pan. I use a disposable aluminum pan. Bake at 250 F for 2 hours.

Ribs for Memorial Day 2014 – 2 hour mark. Left one is coated with barbecue sauce. Right one awaits.

After 2 hours, pour off any fat/juice from the pan. Brush ribs liberally with your favorite barbecue sauce. Wrap (or cover them tightly) the ribs in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake at 250 F for another 2 hours.

This time after 2 hours, check if the meat pulls away from the bone. If not, wrap them up and continue baking – check every 15 minutes – until you can pull on the bones and they start to slide out. Don’t exceed 1 hour on this step. When they’re tender pull them out of the oven.

Finish Them

You can finish them under the broiler in the oven or in a covered grill (outside). If you want to finish them in the oven, paint them with sauce, lay them in a baking pan, bones down, uncovered, about 6 inches from the broiler for 10 minutes.

If you want to finish them with a smokey grill, prepare the grill for indirect heat. When the temperature stabilizes (no flames with charcoal) place wood chips on the coals/flames. Place the ribs on the opposite side the grill from the coals/flames. Smoke the ribs for at least 15 minutes (YMMV). Check internal temperature or pull on the bones every 5 minutes.

Eat Them

Ribs for Memorial Day 2014 – plate with ribs, potato salad, macaroni salad, andouille and boudin.

Everything (except gramma’s beans) turned out great. Ribs were good and tender. The macaroni salad and potato salad were tasty. I cooked regular sausage, boudin, and andouille to go with the ribs; they were OK. We’ll try the beans again tomorrow.

Memorial Day Ribs With A Twist: Smoked and Oven Baked Spare Ribs


I like the recipe Oven Baked Ribs Spare Ribs from, but I’m going to  add a twist: smoke in grill first, then finish in oven.

What You’ll Need:

  • Spare ribs, preferably cut St. Louis style (I used two racks of ribs)
  • Your favorite rib rub (I make my own sometimes)
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce & a bottle of liquid smoke
  • Roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Disposable, aluminum baking pan, at least 3 inches deep
  • Large paper bag (1 bag per 2 racks of ribs)
  • Outside grill set up for indirect heating
  • Wood chips for smoking in grills (hickory or mesquite)
  • About 6 hours of your spare time (get it)

Step 1: Wash the ribs and remove the membrane from the bone-side. If you didn’t buy St. Louis style ribs, cut off “the skirt” (a small piece of meat on one side that sticks out) so that the rack of ribs look more rectangular. Sprinkle both sides of the ribs with your rib rub. Place the ribs in the baking pan, bone-side down, and cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil to keep the bugs out. Let them sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Step 2: Now for the twist: smoke them outside in the grill. Add your favorite wood chips in the grill and stabilize the temperature between 225 and 250 Fahrenheit. Place the ribs in a rib-stand and place the stand on the side away from the heat – i.e. the indirect heat method. Keep an eye on the temperature and smoke them for 1 hour.


Step 3: Pre-heat your oven to 300 Fahrenheit. Place the ribs in to the baking pan and seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil. (I actually put some sauce on them before I sealed them in the pan.) Place the baking pan in the center of the oven. Bake ribs for 1 hour.

Step 4: Remove the foil from the pan, and drain any fat from the pan. Place ribs back in the baking pan, bone-side down. Leave the foil off. Bake ribs for 1 hour.

Step 5: Drain any fat from the pan. Slather both sides of the ribs with barbecue sauce. Bake ribs for 1 hour or until meat separates from bone. (This should not take more than 2 hours.)

Step 6: Turn off the oven. Remove the pan from the oven, and wrap the rack of ribs in foil. Place the ribs in a paper bag, and fold the top of the bag tightly closed. Let the bag of ribs sit at room temperature for 1 hour.


You are now a BBQ God! …so on the seventh hour, he rested, and enjoyed the fall-off-the-bone spare ribs. Amen.

Personal Notes:

I have a 3-burner gas grill and even 1 burner on low is too hot, so I bought an aluminum charcoal lighting box and put about 20 briquettes in it. It produced a lower, stable temperature. I could have kept feeding it briquettes, but I didn’t want to watch the temperature all day on my inaccurate thermometer.

(Originally published Nov 28, 2011)

Memorial Day Ribs – The Tradition Continues

I know I said last year I was done with ribs. I know I should have read my blogs again to remind myself that me and ribs are not meant to be, but time heals all wounds and how quickly we forget.

This year I used a different technique hoping a avoid last year’s failure.

I bought 3 racks of St. Louis style ribs from Kroger’s. In hind sight I think I could have gotten away with 2 racks. We had baked beans, salad, and corn on the cob; never made it to the watermelon. Maybe we’ll turn the left overs into pulled pork via the slow cooker.

Defrost the ribs
Defrost the ribs.

First, marinate the ribs in apple juice for 2 hours.

Marinate in apple juice
Marinate in apple juice

Next, I coated both sides in Gulden’s spicy brown mustard.

Coat with mustard
Coat with mustard.

Next, I coated both sides in Nolan Ryan’s BBQ rub. It was spicy, but not too spicy.

Coat with rib rub
Coat with rib rub

Then, the ribs cooked on the grill – indirect heat of course – for 3 hours at between 200 and 300 degrees. (I think the unsteady temperature is the primary reason for my rib failures.)

Next, I bathed the ribs in sauce and wrapped them in aluminum foil. They went back on the grill for another 2 hours.

Bath in sauce
Bath in sauce.

Finally, I took them off the grill and let them rest for nearly an hour. They weren’t fall off the bone, but they weren’t tough either. I still haven’t found my holy grail, my fountain of youth, my….Maybe next year. (Maybe next year I’ll wise-up and buy the cooked ribs.)

Cut up the ribs and enjoy
Cut up the ribs and enjoy.

But seriously, temperature is the number one factor to effect tenderness. I think I need a good thermometer and I need to stabilize the temperature.


Grilled Eggplant Moussaka

Here is a recipe I took from and modified a little. It makes 8 servings, so you’ll need two 9×13 glass baking dishes.


  • 1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 ounces feta cheese
  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 4 eggplant
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 onions
  • 2-1/2 pounds potatoes
  • 5 tomatoes
  • 2-1/4 pounds zucchini

My Notes:

I only have one kind of olive oil on any given day. Extra-virgin or not, it makes no difference to me.


Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds, slice potatoes into thin (1/8 inch) rounds, slice zucchini length-wise about 1/4 inch slices. Brush with olive oil.

Grill the eggplant, potato, zucchini until tender. Heat the grill to high heat before laying on the vegetables. As grill comes up to temperature, rub the grate with half an onion that has some olive oil on the cut surface. The vegetables won’t stick to the grill grate, and they’ll have great grill marks. In the baking dishes, layer potato, then eggplant, then zucchini. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Melt butter in pan, mix in flour, and toast mixture for 5 minutes. Mix in milk, nutmeg and salt. Simmer for 10 minutes. Slowly whisk together the egg yolk and 1/4 cup of the milk mixture in a bowl. Quickly combine this mixture with the remaining milk mixture. Set aside.

Brown the ground meat and drain the grease. Add onion, oregano, parsley, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover and heat on medium-low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spread the meat mixture over the vegetables, sprinkle feta cheese on top, then spread milk mixture on top of that. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. It should be golden brown on top when it’s done.

Oven Baked Spare Ribs v. 1.0

My wife wanted to try this recipe for oven baked spare ribs. Her recipe – or specifically her mom’s recipe – is very simple.

Start with ribs on a rack in a pan, and lay tin foil on top of the meat so it doesn’t burn (don’t wrap). Cook at 350° F for 4 hours.

Take the tin foil off, flip over (bones up), and bast with barbecue sauce. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Turn over (meat up) bast with barbecue sauce. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Repeat the turning process until ribs are tender.

This recipe was originally meant for baby back ribs and the result was semi-tough ribs – like all of our other tries. There has to be a secret recipe out there somewhere for fall-off-the-bone spare ribs.

St. Louis Spare Ribs

Ribs on the grill at 12 noon

This Memorial Day weekend (2011) I wanted to do something different than last year’s Memorial Day Memphis Style. I was inspired by a video on YouTube called “St Louis Spare Ribs” and the information I read on the BBQ Pit Boys website, Barbecue Web.


I started by buying 9 lbs (2 slabs) of spare ribs from the butcher on Friday before Memorial Day. I had them trim the ribs “St. Louis style” which means they cut off the “knuckles” or the gristly rib tips on the edge opposite the “baby back” cut.

On Sunday, I started at 8 AM by trimming the flap of meat and fat off the meat side and removing the membrane on the bone side. I also cut each slabs in half. Then I spread on a thin layer of regular yellow mustard – the key ingredient to tangy St. Louis barbecue taste – and the rub.  Then I put the ribs in the refrigerator at 9 AM to let them get happy for 3 hours. I planned on starting the low and slow cooking at 12 noon.

For my rub I made a variation of the Amazing Ribs, Meathead’s Memphis Dust Rub Recipe:

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons rosemary powder

I set up my grill with the left burner on low and a 13×10 drip pan on the right. I filled the pan with about 1/2 inch of apple juice, put the ribs in a rib stand, and put the rib stand into the pan. I added the rib stand this year because I thought the tilted grate method last year didn’t expose the ribs enough to the heat and moisture. This year I found the perfect sized pan, but the problem with the stand is that it’s too big to go into the pan the correct way – so that the ribs rest on the sides of the stand. So, I had to improvise and I put a strip of tin foil down the middle of the inverted stand and let the ribs drape over the strip.


Ribs at 5 PM

The key is 225°F for five to six hours. Open the lid sparingly (get it spare ribs, sparingly). As Meathead says, if the lid is open, you aint cooking.

My grill isn’t the most consistent thing on the market and I admit I’m cheap when it comes to thermometers so I just use an oven thermometer. My grill will vary by as much as 50 degrees with less than a 1/4 inch turn of the dial. I have to check it every 1/2 hour to make sure it’s not too hot or too cool.


I cooked the ribs for a total of 5 hours. I flipped the ribs in the stand at 2 hours in and 4 hours. In hour 4 I added some locally made, but pre-cooked, sausage. At 5 PM I took a knife to the ribs to test the tenderness – they weren’t tender.

I took the ribs in and put them in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes. That didn’t help. They came out tough.

All that work and money up in smoke, literally. I give up. No more ribs from me.

On the flip side, the sausage was tough but good. The corn wasn’t quite what my wife was aiming for, but the pinto beans came out pretty good.