The King’s Ribs: Memphis Style

Though born in Tupelo, Mississippi, the King moved to Memphis Tennessee with his family at the age of 13… Is this important?  Not in the least, however it does set the theme for today’s grilling episode…Elvis and all things Memphis! I’ve got a rib recipe for you that will make you curl your lip, shake your hips and say thank you, thank you very much!

As with all ribs, make sure you buy quality cuts.  Normally I’ll venture out to the West Coast market to pick up my pork from none other than the “pork lady” however today I wanted to go with quality baby back ribs and for that, I ventured up to see Pete and Jack at, you guessed it, the Butcher.

Now tonight’s dinner was tested by my pal Brett, the guy who usually tests our BBQ results.  Heather’s away so why not kick back with a buddy, have a few beers and slow cook some ribs!

Step one: The prep & rub using “Meathead’s Memphis Dust”

  • 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

Mix it all up in a metal bowl and make sure you break up any chunks be it sugar, onion powder or anything else that may have formed into a tough clump.  This rub as it is yields about 3 cups worth of magic.  When you’re coating your ribs, you’ll only need about two tablespoons per side so you will have plenty left over to use again or to share.

When you’re ready to rub your ribs, make sure they’re prepped (ie have the silver skin removed and your ribs rinsed.) Apply a small bit of vegetable oil on each side of each slab as this will help with the rub absorption given the spice flavours are oil soluble as opposed to water soluble. Make sure you get an even coating and rub it in well.  I then wrap my ribs up in cling film and chuck them in the fridge for a few hours.  You can leave the rub on over night but a few hours will do for these ribs!

     
Step two: Gettin’ your grill on!

  • Set up your grill for indirect heat – no direct flame, just the heat from the coals!
  • Settle the temperature down to 225°F or 105°C
  • Add in your hardwood chunks; tonight I used mesquite chunks along with our quality hard wood charcoal
  • Get your v-rack ready on top of your drip pan set on top of the platesetter if you’re using a BGE
As Meathead puts it: “Cooking at 225°F will allow the meat to roast low and slow, liquefying the collagen in connective tissues and melting fats without getting the proteins knotted in a bunch. It’s a magic temp that creates silky texture, adds moisture, and keeps the meat tender.” I love the pure science behind this!

Step three: Have a few cold bevies and chill.  No peeking under the hood either!  Let the grill/smoker do it’s magic!

Step four: The Texas Crutch

A great way to ensure a moist and tender rib experience.  You’ll simply take the ribs off after 2.5 hours (for babybacks) and wrap them in aluminium foil with a splash (1/2 cup) of apple juice inside – or if your ribs fit, chuck them into an aluminium tin container and steep them together.  This method is called “boating” and is a lot easier and less of a faff. Crutch for no more than 30 minutes then return the ribs to the grill to crisp them up.

Step five: The Tennessee Whiskey Sauce (needs about 45 minutes prep time)

  • 2 cups Jack Daniel’s
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons malt vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons dark molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

Reduce one cup of whiskey in a saucepan by bringing it to a boil – careful not to flame the booze as you’re cooking!  Reduce the Jack to about 2 tablespoons’ worth. Add the rest of the ingredients now along with another half cup of Jack. Simmer this over a low heat for about 30 minutes – the sauce should reduce by about a third.  Once done you can slather up the ribs right away or put your new creation in a clean ketchup bottle to store for a few of weeks in the fridge.  So what do you do with the last half cup of Jack you ask?  SHOTS!

     

OK so now you’re ready.  The crutch is done and now place your ribs on the grid for another 10 minutes, five on each side.  Slather them up with your homemade Tennessee Whiskey Sauce and get them onto a plate to rest for about 5-10 minutes.  Serve them ribs up with some potato salad, courtesy of Mr. Brett Queen and voila…a perfect Sunday night dinner.

Overall Brett Rating (in Heather’s place): 8.5/10

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