Memphis Ribs with Coleslaw

Memphis Ribs with Coleslaw

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 245 minutes
Servings: 8
Rubbing meat with seasonings before grilling or barbecuing creates a spicy alchemy that builds complex layers of flavors. Early American rubs, described in 18th-century cookbooks, called simply for salt and pepper. Todays recipes are as diverse as our country itself, reflecting local tastes and ingredients. Rubs can be applied either just before cooking or a few hours in advance to intensify flavor. In Memphis, barbecued ribs are also coated with mop sauce, and a dusting of dry rub is often the finishing touch.


  • 8 Tbs. Memphis rub
  • 2 slabs pork spareribs, about 8 lb. total, silverskin removed
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • Barbecue sauce for serving (optional)
  • Coleslaw for serving


Using your fingers, pat the dry rub evenly over the spareribs, rubbing it in well. Place the ribs on a baking sheet, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, cayenne, red pepper flakes and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer the mop sauce to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Let stand at room temperature for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days. Reserve 1/2 cup of the mop sauce for serving.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a medium-low fire in a Big Green Egg or other well-insulated charcoal grill.

Using a sharp knife, cut each rib slab into 2 equal pieces. Place in a rib rack, set the rack on the drip pan and place on the grill grate. Cover the grill and smoke the ribs, maintaining the temperature at about 300°F. After 2 hours, turn the ribs and brush with the mop sauce. Continue smoking, brushing with the sauce every hour, until the ribs are very tender, 4 to 5 hours total.

Transfer the slabs to a carving board and cut into separate ribs or into manageable 3- or 4-rib portions. Pass the reserved mop sauce and barbecue sauce alongside. Serve with coleslaw. Serves 8.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.
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