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Memphis in May Championship Ribs


Memphis in May is one of the biggest BBQ competitions in the world, and to win it is a huge feat. This winning recipe from Steven Raichlen & Team Porkosaurus earned them top honors.


Prep time
15 minutes
Cooking time
5 hours
Total time
5 hours, 15 minutes

Wood Pellet Flavor -Alder, Apple, Cherry, Hickory, Maple, Oak, Pecan


racks of baby back pork ribs
1⁄2 c
Barbecue Rub
1 1⁄2 c
Barbecue Sauce
1⁄2 c
balsamic vinegar
1⁄2 c
yellow mustard
1⁄4 c
1 T
Italian season or herbes de Provence
1⁄2 c
apple juice or apple cider
1⁄2 c
canned pineapple juice
4 c
soaked Wood Chips, preferably hickory or apple


  1. Prepare the ribs. Place a rack of ribs meat side down on a baking sheet. Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of the rack by inserting a slender implement, such as a butter knife or the tip of a meat thermometer, under it. The best place to start is on one of the middle bones. Using a dishcloth, paper towel, or pliers to gain a secure grip, peel off the membrane. Repeat with remaining rack. Sprinkle the Barbecue Rub over both sides of the ribs rubbing it onto the meat.

  2. Place the Barbecue Sauce, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, and Italian seasoning in a nonreactive bowl and whisk to mix. Set this "finishing" sauce aside
  3. Set up your grill for smoking and preheat to low (225° - 250°F). Place a large drip pan in the center of the grill under the grill grate.
  4. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the ribs bone side down in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat. (If your grill has limited pace, stand the racks of ribs upright in a rib rack.) Toss 1/4 cup of wood chips on each mound of coals if you have a charcoal grill or 1/2 cups of wood chips in your smoker chip box if you have a gas grill, then close the grill lid. Smoke the ribs until browned and partially cooked, about 3 hours, adding 1 cup of wood chips (and replenishing the coals if you have a charcoal grill) every hour.
  5. Remove the ribs from the grill, leaving the fire burning. Place 2 large pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil, one on top of the other, on a work surface, shiny side down. Place a rack of ribs on top, bone side down. Fold up the edges of the foil high enough that liquid will not run out. Pour 2 tablespoons each of apple juice and pineapple juice over the ribs. Fold the edges of the foil over the ribs and pleat them together to make a tight seal. Repeat with the remaining racks of ribs.
  6. Place the wrapped ribs in the center of the grate, close the grill lid, and continue cooking the ribs until cooked through and tender, about 1 hour longer. If necessary, raise the heat until you can hear the ribs "sing" (sizzle) in their foil wrapping.
  7. Unwrap the ribs. Generously brush each rack on both sides with some of the "finishing" sauce. Place the ribs in the center of the grate bone side down and close the grill lid. Continue cooking the ribs until darkly browned and very tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour longer, 4 1/2 to 5 hours in all. When the ribs are done, you will be able to pull them apart with your fingers and the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about 1/4 inch.
  8. Transfer the ribs to a large platter or cutting board. Let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then cut each rack in half or into individual ribs. Lightly brush the ribs again with "finishing" sauce and serve at one.

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