Summer Time is grilling time, and what a better way to kick off the Memorial weekend but with a rack of baby back pork ribs. Slow cooked BBQ ribs are a great way to cap off a lazy afternoon of grilling. Once the ribs are put on the fire, the almost cook themselves- just a little bit of attention is required. So they can smoke away on the grill as you enjoy a beer or work on a few projects around the house.
Pork ribs are a favorite of mine. I prefer the slightly meatier St. Louis style ribs, but baby backs are also delicious. Both are slightly different cuts from the same part of the animal. The baby backs are the section closest to the spine, while the longer St. Louis cuts hangs below that. Preparation on both cuts is minimal, just peel away the silver skin off the underside of the cut (use a paper towel to get a good grip on the slippery membrane) and apply the dry rub. If your ribs still have some of the cartilage attached (which can happen if you purchase a full rack in the cryovac package- here’s an article on how to trim them down to St. Louis style).
Since this is Memphis Style, we’re of course talking dry rub for these ribs. You can use a wet rub, or even a marinade, but I really enjoy the spicy flavor that the dry rub imparts. As the ribs cook, you can mop on a BBQ sauce during the last half of cooking, but I safe the sauce for the end. In fact my rub is sooo good, you may even want to skip the sauce completely.
Memphis Dry Rib Rub
A good dry rub is the foundation for a delicious BBQ. My secret recipe Memphis rub mimics those that you’ll find in the western Tennessee city along the Mississippi River. This rub makes enough for two full baby backs, or a single full slab of St. Louis ribs.
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
Cooking the Pork Ribs
- Mix and apply dry rub to both sides of the ribs. Allow to sit in refrigerator for at least two hours, but no longer than overnight.
- Prepare the grill for indirect heat. For Charcoal: light 30-40 briquets in a chimney. When ready pile them on one side of the grill. For Gas: Light one side of the gas grill, preheat to 250 degrees.
- Make a smoker pouch. Soak a handful of hickory chips in water for about 30 minutes. Drain and wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil. Punch several holes in the top of the foil pouch and place on the prepared fire.
- Arrange the slabs of ribs along the cool side of the grill (see picture). Cover and adjust vents so that grill temp is about 250 degrees (On my Weber Kettle I keep the bottom vent wide open and the top half closed). Cook for about 2 1/2 hours, turning meat about every 45 minutes. There shouldn’t be a need to add more coals, if the grill seems to cool, open up the vents a bit.
- The meat will start to pull away from the bone a slight bit when done. You don’t want the meat to fall off the bones, but it should be soft and tender. when this happens, take the ribs off the grill and wrap in heavy foil. Let rest for one hour. This gives the juices in the meat a chance to reabsorb.