Tom's Rendezvous-style Dry Rub for Ribs

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vagreys
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Tom's Rendezvous-style Dry Rub for Ribs

Post by vagreys » Fri Dec 23, 2011 01:40

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, where the phone book has an entire section of the business directory devoted to Barbecue. If you are from Memphis, the word "barbecue" without modifiers refers to pork shoulder cooked low and slow, pulled or chopped, either served as a pile off meat or as a sandwich. Sauce, if any, is added at the table. If a sandwich, barbecue is piled on a cheap, white-bread hamburger bun, topped with a simple coleslaw, and you can add a table sauce or hot sauce as you choose. The other thing Memphis is famous for is dry ribs. These are pork ribs, either spareribs or loin (baby back) ribs, rubbed with spices, cooked without mop or finishing sauces. Table sauces are always available, of course, but dry ribs rarely need them.

My smoker has a firebox offset from the cooking chamber, so all of my hot smoking is with indirect heat. I use a combination of lump hardwood charcoal, and either dry soaked, or green hickory. I cook at a temperature of 210-220°F. I was taught that this makes for a much moister finished product, because the meat juices do not boil off. This also means brining isn't really necessary at these low temperatures. If I am cooking in an oven, I substitute Spanish smoked sweet paprika for sweet paprika, and Spanish smoked hot paprika for cayenne, and cook at 250°F, because most household ovens are notoriously inaccurate below 250°F.

The most famous spot for dry ribs in Memphis is Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous, a deceptively huge restaurant with a little alley entrance (52 S. Second St. in Memphis). The Rendezvous does ribs differently, but they were the first to have theirs called dry ribs. They use loin back ribs, and the ribs there are cooked at higher temperatures, over direct heat, but on grills set so high above the coals that it is almost like indirect heat. Because they are cooking at higher temperatures, they also brine their ribs. They move over 4 tons (3.63 metric tons) of ribs per week, now, and as they've grown, they have had to adapt how they do their ribs in order to meet demand. They also don't use their seasoning as a rub, but in their brine and shaken on the ribs just before service. My grandfather knew Charlie from the earliest days of the Rendezvous predecessor, Wimpy's diner, and the Rendezvous used to mop the ribs and cook them a little slower than they do, now. I don't cook mine that fast, but the dry rub recipe that follows is a close approximation of the rib rub used at the Rendezvous, with my own additions.

1 tablespoon whole cumin
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
4 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon whole mustard seed
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground bay leaf -- optional
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
3/4 teaspoon cayenne

Toast the cumin. Grind fine in a mortar. Transfer to mixing bowl. Grind salt and transfer to mixing bowl.

Add sugar, pepper, thyme, oregano, paprika, chili powder, mustard seed, mustard powder, coriander seed, ground coriander, bay leaf, celery seed, garlic, and cayenne. Mix thoroughly.

This is enough rub for three slabs of spareribs. For each slab of ribs, rub both sides using about 2 to 3 tablespoons of dry rub. Wrap and refrigerate overnight if possible.

Cook ribs uncovered -- on foil-lined pans -- in oven at 250°F. Allow 100-120 minutes per pound, calculated on the largest slab. Or cook over indirect heat in a smoker at 210-220°F for two hours per pound, calculated on the largest slab. The timing is only approximate. The ribs are done when the meat has drawn back from the ends of the bones by 1/4" to 3/8" all along the rack.

Half an hour to one hour before ribs are done, coat top surface with about 2 tablespoons of the dry rub. Continue cooking until done. I don't like ribs falling off the bone. I like for them to be tender and juicy, but with a little bite left. They still pull away from the bone, clean, but they aren't falling off.

Notes:
  • If you prefer fresh garlic, substitue a tablespoon of minced garlic for the granulated garlic. Place the minced garlic and the kosher salt in a mortar and grind together to make a paste. Mix the paste into the rub mixture until it is evenly distributed.
  • If you are cooking in an oven, substitute smoked sweet and hot paprika for the sweet paprika and cayenne, to get a subtle smoky flavor on the ribs. You can always punch up the spice with some additional cayenne if you like more heat.
  • Rendezvous-style means the inclusion of Greek seasonings like oregano and thyme, and the whole mustard and coriander seeds that are peculiar to the Rendezvous seasoning mixture.
  • In one interview, Nick Vergos said that the ribs are soaked overnight in a proportion of 4 cups water, 4 cups cider vinegar, and 1/3 cup dry rub mixture. In another interview, he said that the liquid is a mop for use during cooking. Cooked over low, direct coals, and mopped again and dusted with dry rub at the end of cooking. The ribs are supposed to be done when 3/8" of rib bone is showing on the ribs. The published Vergos recipe doesn't include sugar or minced garlic, but the published version also doesn't include ingredients that I know are in the seasoning they use and serve at the table, either; and, the seasoning they use and serve at the table isn't the same as what they sell in the bottle in stores. The published version also calls for 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup black pepper - extremely salty.
- tom

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Chuckwagon
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Post by Chuckwagon » Fri Dec 23, 2011 15:30

Hi Tom, Your recipe is outstanding. To tell you the truth, I don`t even remember where I got the copy of "what I thought was his original recipe". It was some time ago. I`m glad you have illuminated the facts and your hard work and research are quite apparent. Congratulations. I would like to sponsor this recipe for the "Contest Winners And Sponsored Recipes". If we receive a "second motion", I`ll include it in that list. I`m chomping at the bit until I can try out your recipe sometime during the next week. Thanks again for your comments and the recipe. Have a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably needs more time on the grill! :D
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Post by ssorllih » Fri Dec 23, 2011 17:18

CW I hope you plan to save it to the growing recipes list. It is diffinitely a keeper.
Ross- tightwad home cook
vagreys
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Post by vagreys » Sat Dec 24, 2011 03:38

P.S.: Something I forgot to say - if you plan to use fresh garlic made into a paste with the kosher salt, the resulting paste will be wet. It will not distribute into the rub on its own. You will have to use your fingers to work the little clumps into the spice mixture until you no longer see clumps.
Chuckwagon wrote:Hi Tom, Your recipe is outstanding. To tell you the truth, I don`t even remember where I got the copy of "what I thought was his original recipe". It was some time ago...
Thanks and no problem, CW. Info on the internet, particularly recipes, get copied and reclaimed, renamed and repurposed, all the time. I posted it on some other forums over the years and there's no telling how it got circulated. I'm just glad I recognized the ingredient list and was able to provide the rest of the recipe for y'all to try!

Good luck with the ribs next week. I use untrimmed spareribs, not St. Louis cut. The fat is key - too lean and they won't make their own 'sauce'. I also try to stay close to 3 lbs per slab, but it's hard to find them, anymore. More often, I find slabs in the 3.5-4.5 lb range - older, meatier, but less tender and sweet, too. I don't often do the loin back ribs, but they work just as well with this approach (adjusting the cooking time, of course).
- tom

Don't tell me the odds.
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Ribs

Post by Blackriver » Sat Dec 24, 2011 17:29

Thanks a lot for posting the recipe Tom! Great recipe!
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Post by partycook » Sat Dec 24, 2011 22:37

Thanks Tom I will be trying your rub and your sauce.
Happy holidays

John
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Post by Chuckwagon » Mon Jul 09, 2012 09:32

Wheee Dogggy! ...as Buddy Ebsen used to hollar! :roll:
I made a batch of "Tom's ribs" today with this rub and "bake-braised" them low, low, low, for 9 hours before finishing them on a smoky grill. When the collagen finally "broke" at 170° I wrapped 'em and gave them the blanket treatment while I finished the sauce and made the rest of the dinner. Earlier, I had started a large brisket, timed to finish with the ribs, and actually let it cook for about 18 hours while wrapped to trap in moisture. Finished in oak smoke, it just doesn't get better than this! It was a smash hit! Thanks again Tom for trackin' down Charlie's beautiful recipe. I hope all you smoke addicts out there give this one a try!

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably needs more time on the grill! :D
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Post by vagreys » Thu Jul 12, 2012 16:03

Glad you enjoyed it!
- tom

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Post by sawhorseray » Sun Jul 06, 2014 17:01

I made a half batch of this rub and the rack will go into the Pro 100 in about one hour after sitting all rubbed up in the fridge overnight. It's going to take about seven hours with the smoker set at 220°, just enough time for a beer or two. RAY

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Post by sawhorseray » Mon Jul 07, 2014 02:57

6 & 1/2 hours on the Pro 100 at 220°. Perfect bark and juicy rack of ribs, the rub provides a great flavor, I'll do it again. RAY

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Post by cogboy » Mon Jul 07, 2014 23:47

Those ribs look excellent !
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Post by redzed » Sat Jul 12, 2014 06:35

Have a bunch of ribs in the freezer and always open to different ways of doing them. Ray, ol` boy, those ribs look scrumptious! Will have to give that recipe a try in the near future!
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