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Bryan Voltaggio’s One-Hour Memphis-Style Ribs

Ribs rule at Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous, a basement barbecue joint in Memphis, TN, where pork ribs are mopped with vinegar and cooked on an open charcoal fire. In Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s spin on that preparation, he seasons baby back ribs with a medley of spices and quick-cooks them in a pressure cooker, then smokes them on an outdoor barbecue.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. freshly ground pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. piment d’Espelette
  • 3/4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 3/4 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. toasted and ground coriander seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. toasted and ground fennel seed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup Sir Kensington’s scooping ketchup
  • 3 1/2 lb. pork baby back ribs, cut into 3- or 4-bone slabs

Directions:

In a bowl, stir together the salt, pepper, lemon zest, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, piment d’Espelette, thyme, allspice, celery seed, coriander and fennel.

Prepare a grill for indirect grilling over medium-high heat. If using a gas grill, set a smoker box filled with hickory chips over direct heat.

In the base of a 10-quart stovetop pressure cooker, stir together the water, ketchup and 2 Tbs. of the spice mixture; reserve the remaining mixture. Place the ribs, bone side down, in the pressure cooker. Close and lock the lid and bring up to high pressure over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the pressure dissipate naturally, about 10 minutes. Carefully remove the lid and transfer the ribs to a steel grill roaster set on a baking sheet. Pour the cooking sauce from the pressure cooker into a basting pot or liquid measuring cup. Brush the meaty side of the ribs with the sauce.

Set the roaster on the grill over indirect heat. Cover the grill and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, brushing the ribs every 5 minutes with the sauce. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board and sprinkle with the remaining spice mixture. Cut into individual ribs and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Recipe by Chef Bryan Voltaggio, inspired by Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous, Memphis, TN.