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Video: Big Bob Gibson’s barbecue chicken and ribs

TODAY recipes
updated 5/12/2009 9:34:57 AM ET 2009-05-12T13:34:57

Recipe: Memphis dry ribs

It is impossible to discuss Memphis barbecue without talking about ribs. Where in most places the rib-loving factions are divided between those who prefer baby backs to spareribs (or vice versa), in Memphis the two different camps are partisans of either dry or wet preparations. Wet ribs are daubed with sauce before serving. Dry ribs can have either dry rub added prior to cooking or a seasoning blend applied after cooking. Either way, no tomato-based sauce touches a dry rib from Memphis.

  • 2 slabs St. Louis-cut pork spareribs
  • 10 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup white vinegar

Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Combine the dry rub ingredients and mix well. Reserve 1/3 cup of the dry rub, then apply the remaining rub generously to the front and back of the ribs. Pat gently to ensure the rub adheres to the meat.

Build a fire (wood or combination of charcoal and wood) for indirect cooking by situating the coals on only one side of the grill, leaving the other side void. Preheat the charcoal grill to 250 F. Place the ribs meat side up on the grill and cook with indirect heat, with the grill closed, for 4 hours, or until the ribs are tender.

Mix the vinegar with 1 cup of water in a shallow baking pan. Remove the ribs from the grill and dip them into the vinegar water. Remove the ribs from the wash and place them on a cutting board. Season the ribs immediately with a heavy coat of the reserved dry rub. Cut and serve.


Suggested Wood: Hickory, Oak

Serving Size

Serves 4-6

Recipe: Loaf-pan chicken

Have you ever tried a beer-can chicken recipe? That’s when a whole chicken is perched atop a beer can and set on the grill, so the beer steams from the can and keeps the sitting bird from drying out. The results are tender and moist, but sometimes the flavor is washed out; and if the chicken falls over it can be a mess.

Loaf-Pan Chicken is a dummy-proof alternative to beer-can chicken, although the technique is not as gimmicky. You simply set the bird in a loaf pan and place it, pan and all, on the grill. The loaf pan captures all the juices and increases the humidity surrounding the chicken. The result is tender and moist meat every time, and best of all, the flavor is full and undiluted.

  • 3⁄4 cup applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 whole chicken (31⁄2 pounds)
  • Dry rub
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 2 1⁄4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground coriander

Build a fire (wood or a combination of charcoal and wood) for indirect cooking by situating the coals on only one side of the cooker, leaving the other side void.

In a small bowl, stir together the applesauce and Worcestershire. Holding the chicken over a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan, pour the mixture over the chicken, making sure the chicken is thoroughly coated both inside and out. Let the excess liquid drip into the loaf pan.

In another small bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients and mix well. Coat the entire chicken, both inside and out, with the dry rub. Place the chicken into the loaf pan, breast side up.

When the grill temperature reaches approximately 300° F, place the loaf pan on the grill grate away from the coals, close the cover, and cook for 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the chicken thigh reaches 175° F. Let the chicken cool a bit in the pan before cutting into serving pieces.


Suggested Wood: Hickory, Apple, Apricot

Serving Size

Serves 4


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