If you think that great barbecued ribs are best left to expert pit masters with highly specialized smokers and super-secret spice rubs, think again. Not only will this recipe will turn your standard charcoal or gas grill into your own barbecue "pit," but our unique outdoor-indoor technique shaves a lot of time and effort off the traditional barbecue method.
Memphis-style spareribs are dry-rubbed, wet-mopped, sauce-free ribs that are barbecued until tender, but not to the point where the meat falls off the bones. During the low-and-slow cooking, the ribs form a "bark"—a crusty outer layer that's appealing both to the eye and the palate. These ribs are more savory and more serious than the sticky, sugary, saucy ribs that many of us have to come think of as "barbecue."
This recipe employs a modified two-level fire with a water pan to provide some moisture during cooking, and soaked wood chips to generate smoke. For a charcoal grill, it calls for a rather unconventional method of emptying lit coals onto a pile of unlit coals. The unlit coals are slow to ignite, which is desirable for producing steady, unflagging heat over the 1 1/2-hour cooking time on the grill and obviates the need to add fresh coals midway through cooking.
After a smoke-filled stint on the grill, the ribs are moved to the oven to finish cooking. In a couple more hours—faster than you can get to Memphis (unless you live in Tennessee)—the ribs are ready!
Total Cooking Time: 300
Preparation Time: 30
Active Cooking Time: 120
Make Ahead: Serve immediately
Yield: 4 to 6 servings