RENDEZVOUS-STYLE RIBS IN A HURRY
April 30, 2012
I love ribs. Especially Memphis-style dry rub ribs. In honor of National Grilling Month, we turn to Meathead at AmazingRibs.com for his take on this classic.
The most popular rib joint in the world has to be Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous in Memphis where they can seat 700 and almost everyone orders baby backs. On an average day, they move 2,100 pounds of ribs.
At the Vous baby backs are cooked about 2 to 3 feet above charcoal at a relatively hot 425°F for only about 60 minutes. The secret is, while they are cooking they are frequently mopped with a thin vinegary mop that steams and softens the meat. No wood is used so there is not much smoke taste. The meat is flavored with the mop and fat dripping on the coals and vaporizing. Then it is covered in their seasoning. There is no sauce.
Almost everything on my AmazingRibs.com site, everything I know, everything I teach, tells you to take your time cooking ribs. Low and slow produces the most tender, juicy meat. That means three hours or more for baby backs, and five or more hours for spares and St. Louis cut.
But sometimes you just can’t wait. Like when you have every tourist in Memphis waiting to be served. Here’s how to have baby backs ready in 90 minutes, by imitating the way they do it at the Vous where they churn them out like nobody else can. They are a little chewier than low and slow smoked ribs, but darn tasty. If you are among the many who love the Vous, this will get you as close as an airline ticket to Memphis and a cab to that alley near Beale Street.
Recipe for Rendezvous-Style Ribs
Yield. Makes 1 cup of mop, enough for about 2 slabs of baby back ribs
Preparation time. 5 minutes
6 tablespoons of Rendezvous Seasoning (click for recipe)
1/2 cup distilled vinegar
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons ketchup or tomato based barbecue sauce such as Kansas City Classic or a storebought sauce
1) Set 4 tablespoons of the Rendezvous Seasoning aside for later. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons with the vinegar, water, and barbecue sauce in a bowl. This makes the Rendezvous Mop.
2) Get the coals started in a chimney. When they are coated with white ash, push most of them to one side of your grill and scatter a few on the other side so you have a two zone grill. Stabilize the temp at about 350°F in the indirect section. At the Vous they cook directly over the coals and the dripping fat vaporizes and flavors the meat. But they get the meat 2 to 3 feet above the heat so there is no problem with flareups burning the meat. On most grills you cannot get the meat this high (although it is possible on some bullet smokers if you remove the water pan), so place the meat on the cooler side of the grill.
3) Paint the meat liberally on all sides with Rendezvous Mop when it goes on the grill and put the lid down. Every 15 minutes open it and quickly paint the meat again and flip it over. If you can, keep the mop warm so it doesn’t cool off the meat too much and slow the cooking.
4) After 60 minutes, test to see if the meat is ready with the bend test. Click here for an article on how to tell if the meat is ready. When it is ready, put it on the dinner plate, give it a final mopping, allowing some to pool on the plate, and sprinkle with the remaining Rendezvous Seasoning.