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Fashioned after Charlie Vergos' famous ribs—grilled over charcoal, mopped with vinegar sauce, and coated with a dry rub just before serving. Nearly impossible to duplicate these famous ribs at home because Vergos cooks them in a one-of-a kind pit and the rub recipe is a closely guarded secret. Here is Mr. Raichlen’s take on my favorite ribs.
Memphis Dry Rub
- 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 3 tablespoons pure chile powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons memphis dry rub seasonings
- 4 slabs baby back ribs (6-8 lb.)
- fresh ground black pepper
- You will need a barbecue mop.
- Make the rub: add the rub ingredients to a bowl; stir to mix.
- Store rub in an airtight container away from heat and light; will keep for 6 months.
- Make the mop sauce—add the vinegar, salt, and rub in a bowl; add 1 cup water; whisk until the salt dissolves; set aside.
- Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of each rack of ribs.
- Generously season the ribs all over with salt and pepper.
- Set up grill for direct grilling (charcoal is more accurate); preheat to medium.
- When ready to cook, brush the grill grate, place the ribs on the hot grate, bone side down, and grill until that side is sizzling and golden brown, about 35 minutes.
- Turn the ribs and grill meat side down until that side is sizzling and golden brown, about 25 minutes longer.
- When fully cooked, the ribs will be nicely browned and tender enough to pull apart with your fingers.
- The dripping fat may cause flare-ups; if this happens, move the ribs to another spot on the grate.
- Transfer the grilled ribs to a platter or cutting board.
- Generously brush or mop the ribs on both sides with the mop sauce.
- Thickly sprinkle the meat side with the remaining rub to form a crust.
- You can use all or the rub or just a part, depending on your fondness for spice.
- Mr. Raichlen likes a crust about 1/8 inch thick; serve the ribs as whole racks, cut the racks in pieces, or carve them into individual ribs and serve any remaining rub on the side.