Memphis Mopped Ribs

Rendezvous BBQ by Jaimie Lynne
Rendezvous BBQ, a photo by Jaimie Lynne on Flickr.

Memphis Mopped Ribs from MeatFireGood.com

People from all around the world  travel to Memphis to sample the distinctive BBQ found there.  Though there are many good BBQ joints to be found in Memphis, and more than one style to sample, the ribs at the Rendezvous are perhaps the most famous.  Although they are not my favorite style of ribs, the blogosphere is full of people longing for the ribs they had while at the Vous.  If fact, for a premium you can order racks of ribs from the Rendezvous and have them shipped to your door. At the time of this writing, they were $100 for 2 racks of ribs. (Yikes!  I think you might like my version better, especially if you can set up your grill to smoke the ribs first.)Memphis Mopped Ribs

Our Memphis Mopped Ribs pay homage to this distinctive style of rib. It is set apart from other styles owing to the herbaceous vinegar mop somewhat reminiscent of Mediterranean cuisine (I love complex herb flavors!). Unlike other sugary sauces applied at the end of a cook, this mop is applied throughout a hotter cook, keeping the ribs moist and finishing them faster. Other recipes for Rendezvous-like ribs are out there. Here is how it’s done at MeatFireGood.com.

Memphis Mop Spice Mix:
(makes about 2/3 quart, plenty for a few barbecues)
2/3 C paprikaMemphis Mop Spice
1/4 C granulated garlic
1/4 C kosher salt
3 T chili powder
3 T ground black pepper
2 T crushed whole coriander seed
1 T sugar
1 T whole yellow mustard seed
1 T whole celery seed
1 T dried crushed oregano
1 T dried crushed thyme
1 T crushed red pepper
2 t ground allspice
1 t whole caraway seed
1 t onion powder
1 t cayenne
1 t ground mustard

Combine all ingredients and use in mop sauce below.

Mop Sauce
Combine:
1/2 C cider vinegar
1/2 C water
2 T spice mix
3 T Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce (or other KC style)

How to Prepare

Note: these ribs are best when you can smoke them at about 220º with hardwood for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours before finishing with semi-direct heat as directed below.
However,  it is not necessary
.  You could even use a gas grill.

  1. Prepare mop sauce and set aside (I keep mine warm on a side-burner or above coals throughout the cook)
  2. Light your coals and prepare charcoal cooker for semi-direct cooking; establish a temp of about 325º at the cooking  grate.
  3. Skin and trim your ribs of your choice (I prefer St. Louis Cut)
  4. Liberally apply a coating of the mop to both sides of ribs &allow to sit while your cooker is getting ready.
  5. Cook bone-side down over semi-direct heat or about 1/2 hour, making sure to mop every 10-15 minutes.
  6. Flip the ribs over and cook over semi-direct heat for about another 1/2 hour, making sure to mop every 10-15 minutes.
  7. Test for doneness by carefully lifting the ribs at the wider, blade end.  Ribs are done when the rack easily bends in two.  Everyday-company typically like ribs tender enough to fall off the bone, indicated by meat pulling away from the rib ends and exposing about 1/3″ of bone.
  8. When done, apply fresh mop sauce (that has not been used to mop uncooked ribs — I am a stickler for food safety) to the front of the ribs, then sprinkle lightly with the spice mix and serve!

Though this takes a little effort and a variety of spices, I think it is well worth it.  The slightly sour and herb-filled flavor enveloping smoked pork ribs is akin to a flavor symphony.  Try it and share your thoughts.

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