Memphis Ribs in Winter?

In my defense I offer two arguments: 1) it has been about 8 months since I made brisket, 2) tomorrow is the Super Bowl and (2.5) we had good weather today. I wanted some ribs so I found a recipe from Marlboro of all places and decided what the heck.

There is something you need to know about BBQ: all barbecue is not the same. And for god’s sakes don’t slap some barbecue sauce made in New Jersey on a rack of ribs and call it barbecue. I didn’t learn about barbecue styles until I came to Texas, but apparently there are 4 styles in the US.

Memphis style comes wet or dry. The wet is mopped with a mustard and vinegar sauce while cooking. The dry is made with a rub and not mopped.

Carolina style is rubbed and mopped with a vinegar sauce. Variants range from North to South Carolina.

Kansas City style depends on the sauce. The rubbed meat is smoked and then  served with sweet sauce at the table.

Texas is so big it has 4 regions of it own. From experience I can say Texas style is cooked with a rub and then a tomato-based sauce at the table – if you really need sauce. In fact they will probably call you a Yankee if you sauce your bbq; it’s all about the rub in Texas.

Well, I’m made wet and sloppy Memphis style ribs today. I rubbed them this morning and let them setup for 5 hours in the refrigerator. Then I made the mop sauce when I lit the gas grill. I setup the grill for indirect cooking as much as one can on a gas grill. For ribs its not really about the low and slow method. These ribs were supposed to cook within 2 hours.

Rub Ingredients

1/4 cup paprika
1 1/2 Tbsp black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp dark brown sugar firmly packed
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp celery salt
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
6 lbs pork ribs (I use two 3lbs racks of baby back ribs)

Mop Ingredients

1/4 cup prepared mustard
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp salt

The secret to tender ribs is to pull off the membrane on the back. Make a cut parallel with the ribs in the membrane and insert the knife under the membrane and gently pull it up. Then pull the rest of the membrane up with your fingers.

Combine the rub ingredients and rub about 2/3 on the ribs. Wrap in plastic-wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

When you wait for the grill to come to 200° F, combine the mop ingredients and set aside.

Cook the ribs 1 hour meat-side up then mop the top and let cook for another 30 minutes. Flip them over and mop and let cook for 30 minutes. Continue mopping and cooking for 30 minutes until you run out of mop sauce or the ribs are done. Be sure to check the temperature. I try to keep mine at 200° F the whole time. It took my ribs about 2 1/2 hours to cook.

I served my ribs with baked potatoes and baked beans.

Celebrate With BBQ Brisket On Independence Day

In Search of the Wabba Wabba

I wanted to chronicle my experience with cooking Brisket on July 4, 2009. First, a few words of prologue, Brisket (with a capital B) scares the hell out of me! That is why I’m writing this post – for future reference. I’ve heard horror stories about how easy it is to f-up brisket, and how it is such a tricky meat. Me and wife decided at the store, “what the heck,” it’s time to give it a go. And at $0.99/lbs for untrimmed brisket we couldn’t loose too much. It was $13.57 for 13.71 lbs untrimmed brisket (July 3, 2009, Kroger special price).

Prepare the meat

I used “Meathead’s” (seriously, that’s his nickname) Big Bad Beef Rub recipe with a few modifications:
3 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons table salt
1/2 tablespoon cayenne
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the top:
3 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons table salt

Important Tip: Beef rub is different than pork rub. Pork loves sweetness, but beef does not.

I rubbed the first set of ingredients on the bottom, or meaty side. Then I rubbed the salt and pepper mixture on the top, or fatty side.

We’ll have the Little Penguin Merlot with dinner. The watermelon will be part of a red (watermelon/strawberries), white (RediWhip) and blue (dark cherries) on angel food cake dessert – yum.

After the rub down I wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it set up in the refrigerator overnight.

Prepare the grill

Important Tip: Get the temperature stabilized at about 225 F. It is crucial to keep the temperature low or else the proteins can seize up and squeeze out all the juices. This can happen fast on brisket, so monitor your temperature carefully. Brisket is a lot less forgiving than pork shoulder.


I figured it was going to take 10-12 hours to cook so I woke up at 8:30 AM and got right to work stabilizing the heat. But first, I had a problem. The brisket was too big for my drip pan. Note to self: buy two big, disposable pans when you buy brisket or ribs. So I did what any other quick thinking chef would do, I cut the brisket in half and put the “flat” half in the oven and the “point” half on the grill. The grill heated up to about 225 F on only one burner. I double checked the grill’s thermometer with my handy oven thermometer.

On a side note, the forecast was 101 F and no rain; another scorching day in Texas. I checked on the grill every couple of hours to make sure it stayed at 225 F and that there was liquid in the foil.

Cook the meat

Finally, it was time to cook, check liquid levels and temperature, and cook, and check, and repeat, for 10 hours. Needless to say, I had time to go buy a meat thermometer; actually my wife got a really nice one. It will come in handy especially when you hit the “stall.” That’s when the temperature stays around 140-160 F and takes hours to climb. At about 7 PM – the 10th hour – we were somewhere in the stall. The temperature was 170 F, and everything looked and smelled good.

Some time between 8:00 and 8:30 PM I took both halves off the heat, wrapped them in heavy-duty foil, pored half of bottle of beer in each half, and let them sit in the cooling grill. At 9:00 PM we all sat down to dine on a rather well cooked, dry brisket. It looked good on the outside. The meat near the fat was delicious and soft. My theory is that I should have mopped/basted/injected the meat during the latter part of the stall. I didn’t do that and it dried out.

We still enjoyed the meal. Put some sauce on the dry brisket and it tastes great. The corn was good, the baked potatoes where great, and the red, white, and blue dessert was an explosion of flavor.