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The Best Barbecue of Memphis


John Vergos of The Rendezvous in Memphis, TN

Meat: Memphis is hog heavy: The region is famous for sliced or chopped smoked pork shoulder. This is also the birthplace of barbecue spaghetti, barbecue smoked bologna, and barbecue pizza.

Sauce: Pork is topped with tomato-based sauce—it’s usually eaten as a sandwich topped with a slaw. Ribs are dry-rubbed for crusty, mouth-watering results.

Smoke: Memphis is mostly a charcoal town, but hickory is sometimes used (never mesquite or juniper)

Insider Tip: “Always start cooking ribs with the bone side down. If you don’t, you might burn the top of the meat without getting the bottom cooked,” says Vergos.

Secret Weapon: “You can use a shaker to make sprinkling the rub on meat easier,” says Vergos. A plastic pizza shaker from any grocery store would work.

The Recipe: Memphis Baby-Back Ribs

Ribs: 6 to 8 pounds baby back ribs

Basting solution:

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup distilled vinegar with 1 cup water and 1 tbsp Rendezvous rub seasoning. Or see Mike Mill’s Magic Rub to mix your own.

How to Make it: 1. Set your grill to medium-low heat or fire up the charcoal until it reaches about 250F. Place ribs bone side down and cook for about an hour or until golden brown. Then flip over and cook on other side until golden brown (it should take about 45 minutes at this temperature). If the dripping fat causes flare-ups, move to another part of the grill.

2. To tell if the ribs are done, grab the end of one slab—”if they bend and pull apart at the bone, they should be ready. You can use a thermometer to make sure the meat is heated to at least 162F. Once cooked, place ribs on a plate and mop both sides with the sauce, then sprinkle enough rub seasoning to lightly coat the top of the ribs.

3. Serve by cutting along the bone between two ribs, not down the center, to get the most meat.

Serves 4 to 6 people

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