STOP OVERCOOKING YOUR RIBS...
...and other rules of the perfect rack.
There’s your neighbor who grills ribs on Memorial Day, and then there’s John Vergos, whose family runs the Rendezvous in Memphis, the BBQ institution that invented dry rub in the 1950s and is regarded by many ’cue nerds as serving the best damn pork ribs in the country. We asked Vergos for some rib-cooking pointers, and, surprisingly in a culture obsessed with secrecy, he didn’t hold back. You can apply his advice to a full recipe available on mensjournal.com.
1. STAY SANE ABOUT THE MEMBRANE Tongs duels erupt over whether peeling away the white membrane before grilling flavors or dries out meat. Vergos says it really doesn’t matter. The Rendezvous leaves it be, as would you if you cooked 1,000 slabs a day.
2. GRILL BONE-SIDE DOWN FIRST Keeps the meatier side from sticking to the grill when raw. Yeah, that makes sense. 3. GET BASTED
After the slab is browned, flip every 30 minutes or so and baste to moisten the meat. Apple cider vinegar is a typical baste base. The Rendezvous uses white vinegar spiked with (pro tip alert) dill pickle juice!
4. DON’T OVERCOOK YOUR RIBS!
Heed these words: Cook until meat falls off the bone and you’ve cooked off the best flavor. “If your emphasis is on sauce instead of the meat, you can cook them forever,” says Vergos. “But since you eat ribs with your hands, there should be a tug to the meat, and a little pink inside.”
5. RUB LAST
Apply dry spice rub to raw ribs pregrill if you want. But you must apply a final baste and then plenty of dry rub just before serving. Formulas abound, but for a taste of the Rendezvous, deploy plenty of paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, and yellow mustard seeds.