Summer is a season filled with pool parties, beach days, and most importantly, backyard barbecues. There’s something special about gathering friends and family in your own backyard and preparing a meaty smorgasbord for all. And if there’s one thing America knows about barbecue, it’s that you better have ribs at the picnic table.
You may have a favorite way to cook and eat barbecue ribs, but in this recipe you’ll be learning something a little bit different. As you may or may not know, there are four major regional styles of barbecue in America: Kansas City, Texas, Memphis, and Carolina-style.
Today, we’re going to teach you how to make organic Memphis-style barbecue ribs right on your own grill! Let’s get started.
What You’ll Need:
- 2 cups organic ketchup
- ¼ cup packed organic dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup organic cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. organic vegetable oil
- ¼ cup organic steak sauce
- ¼ cup organic Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tbsp. organic yellow mustard
- ½ tsp. organic cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp. organic onion powder
- 1 tbsp. organic ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. organic salt
- ½ tsp. organic ground celery seed
- 1 tbsp. organic molasses
- 1 to 2 teaspoons organic liquid smoke
- 1 full rack of trimmed organic spare ribs
- ½ cup organic apple juice
- 1 cup damp wood chips
First, set your apple juice aside. You won’t need it until you place your ribs on the grill! Once that’s done, begin by trimming your ribs. Since you’ll be cooking them on the grill, you’ll want to trim off a bit of the excess fat. Keeping some of the fat on is a good idea and will help create nice, tender ribs, but too much could result in unnecessary grill fires. In addition, divide your damp wood chips in half and wrap each pile in tin foil, poking several holes in your bundles to let smoke escape. Your grill should be just hot enough to start the wood smoking.
For the Sauce:
This barbecue sauce recipe may be simple, but there’s no denying that it will be a hit with your family and friends. To begin, mince your garlic and make sure your brown sugar is free of any clumps. After that, place all of your ingredients, minus your vegetable oil, into a medium-sized saucepan. Bring your saucepan over to the stove and place it over low to medium heat, stirring until all of the ingredients are well-combined.
Bring your mixture to a low boil, stirring often. After it has reached a low boil, lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once your 25 minutes are up, remove your mixture from the heat and gradually stir in your vegetable oil. And voila! You’ve got some kickin’ barbecue sauce the whole family is sure to love. This recipe should yield approximately three cups of sauce.
For the Ribs:
Now that your ribs are trimmed and your sauce is ready, it’s time to fire up the grill. Place your wood chip bundles close enough to your burner that they start to emit smoke. Once those are smoking, it’s time to turn down the heat and place your ribs on the grill!
The key to great ribs is indirect heat. Ideally, your ribs should be placed between the two burners being used. Place your rack bone-side down on the grill and let the ribs cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Your grill should hold a steady temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit for this period of time. When you open the lid, your ribs should be browned on all sides. Once the 30 minutes is up, place some tin foil underneath your ribs.
Remember that apple juice we were saving? Now, pour it evenly over the ribs and wrap the tin foil around them, bringing the grill up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook with the lid closed at this temperature for about 30 minutes. After this, remove the tin foil, lower your grill temperature to approximately 265 degrees Fahrenheit, and let your ribs finish cooking for an additional five to 10 minutes.
You should open up your grill to a rack of beautiful, tender ribs. And now, it’s time to add your Memphis-style barbecue sauce! The key to excellent, saucy ribs is adding two coats of sauce and letting your ribs sit on the still-hot grill for about five minutes between coats. Of course, you should still have enough sauce leftover for dipping!
For a more in-depth grilling tutorial, consult the experts at The Spruce.