Bobbi didn’t want to wait—or couldn’t—to get back before having the drink she had promised herself. Just outside the Augusta city limits was a roadhouse that went by the charming name of the Big Lost Weekend Bar and Grille (Whopper Spareribs Our Specialty; The Nashville Kitty-Cats This Fri and Sad).
Daddy used to pick up racks of these Memphis dry-rubbed ribs in Augusta on his way back to Pownal from Down East. I’ve never left Maine, never mind been to Tennessee, but I can’t imagine any ribs more tender or better tasting.
They cooked them low and slow, and added some Bell’s in the rub for a New England twist. So good, there’s no need for sauce on the side.
Makes 6 servings
3 racks Kansas City–style pork side ribs (about 2 pounds per rack)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 tablespoons Memphis Dry Rub (recipe follows), plus more for sprinkling (optional)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
Using paper towels, pat both sides of the racks dry. Using a butter knife or spoon, coax up the edge of the thin membrane from the back of each rack; then, using a paper towel, grasp and pull it all off to improve the flavor and tenderness of the finished ribs. Season both sides of each rack evenly with the salt and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Prepare the smoker and heat to 275°F. As the smoker comes to temperature, season both sides of each rack with the dry rub.
Put the ribs, meat-side up, in the smoker and smoke until the meat is tender to the touch and pulls away from the bones on the ends, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. At 2 hours, in a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and water and then brush the racks with the mixture every 30 minutes.
Transfer the racks to a baking sheet. Brush the vinegar-water on both sides of the ribs, and, if desired, sprinkle with more dry rub as well.
Slice the ribs between the bones and serve.
To cook the ribs in the oven, position an oven rack on the middle rung and heat the oven to 275˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the ribs, meat-side up, on the baking sheet and cook and serve as directed.
Memphis Dry Rub
Use on spareribs and BBQ pork chops or chicken.
Makes about 3/4 cup
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon Bell’s Seasoning or ground oregano
In a medium bowl, combine both sugars, the paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, ground ginger, onion powder, and Bell’s Seasoning and stir to incorporate.
Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 months.