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How to Make Memphis Barbecue

In Memphis, barbecue means delectable, dry-rubbed ribs with sauce on the side. Here's how to bring out the taste of Tennessee.


  • Step 1: Ready the pork Pull off the thin sheet of skin from the back of each rack, and place the ribs on a clean, flat surface.
  • TIP: For a better grip on the skin, use a kitchen towel.
  • Step 2: Prepare the rub To prepare the dry rub, mix 1½ tablespoons black pepper, 1½ tablespoons brown sugar, 1½ teaspoons celery salt, 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper, and 1½ teaspoons garlic powder together with the kosher salt, dry mustard, cumin, and paprika in a mixing bowl.
  • Step 3: Rub the rub Put on your gloves and rub two-thirds of the dry rub on both sides of the meat. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  • TIP: To enhance the flavor, refrigerate the meat for up to 8 hours.
  • Step 4: Prepare to 'cue Oil the grill rack, and prepare the barbecue pit or smoker according to its instructions, using hickory wood chips to flavor the meat. Maintain a temperature between 250 and 300 degrees.
  • Step 5: Smoke the meat Put the ribs on the grate bone-side down. Smoke them until the meat is very tender and has shrunk back from the ends of the bone, about an hour to an hour and a half. When you have about 15 minutes of cooking time left, sprinkle the remaining rub on the meat.
  • Step 6: Cool the meat Once the meat is finished cooking, remove it from the heat and let it cool for one hour.
  • Step 7: Prepare the sauce In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining spices and other ingredients, except the oil. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, then, stir in the oil.
  • Step 8: Chow down Place the sauce in a small serving bowl for easy dipping, grab a rib, and dig in!
  • FACT: The song "Memphis Soul Stew" hit no. 6 on the R&B charts in 1967.

You Will Need

  • 3 racks baby back pork ribs
  • 2u00bd tbsp. black pepper
  • divided
  • u00bd c.
  • plus 1u00bd tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • divided
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • divided
  • 3 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • divided
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 c. sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 c. tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 c. mustard
  • 1/4 c. cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • New gloves
  • Barbecue pit or smoker
  • Hickory wood chips
  • Clean kitchen towel (optional)

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