A Labor Day Classic on the Grill

Aug 29, 2017

Labor Day is this weekend …

Credit Melissa Cookston and Memphis Barbecue Co.

... that means most of us while be firing up the grill to enjoy the last official weekend of summer.

To make sure we have the best barbecue ribs possible, I asked Melissa Cookston, owner of the Memphis Barbecue Co. and the Winningest Woman in Barbecue, to give us some tips.

Her first tip starts at the grocery store.

“I do believe that meat selection is just as important as the cooking process when you are thinking about cooking ribs. I have found that Smithfield ribs are about the best ribs on the market. I cook them in my restaurant; I cook them at home for my family. They are very meaty and they have great marbling, and they are absolutely the best ribs that you can cook.”

Smoke is what can differentiate good barbecue from great barbecue.  Be sure to pick up the right kind of wood for pork when making ribs.

“If you are going to use a smoking agent like wood chips or wood chunks, use fruitwoods like apple or peach.  They don’t over power pork. Pork is a delicate white meat so it doesn’t like heavier woods like mesquite or hickory. So use fruit woods for pork.”

Us Memphians love our dry ribs … but if using a tasty Memphis-style barbecue sauce, be sure to pay attention to this tip:

“Don’t put your sauce on too early.  You only want to sauce your ribs 15 minutes before you want to serve them. So … put your sauce on, put them back in the cooker for about 15 minutes, and then they are ready to eat.”

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Happy Labor Day!

Melissa Cookston has cemented her place as, not only a great Southern Delta chef, but also as one of the preeminent Pitmasters in the World. Four time Whole Hog World Champion, Two time World Grand Champion, the winner of the Inaugural Kingsford Invitational, and literally thousands of other trophies have proven her to be the Winningest Woman in Barbecue.

For more about Melissa and lots of other great recipes like the one below, visit www.MelissaCookston.com.

For information about Memphis Barbecue Co., visit www.memphisbbqco.com.


  • Ribs (loin ribs recommended)
  • About 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ seasoning per slab of ribs
  • 2 tablespoons Brown sugar per slab of ribs
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup per slab of ribs
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice per slab of ribs
  • BBQ glaze, made with 4 parts BBQ Sauce and 1 part honey (make enough to glaze ribs and serve on the side!)

Start smoker (or grill set up for indirect cooking) and set for 250 degrees.

Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs.  Then, season thoroughly both sides with Sweet Memphis BBQ Rub or your favorite seasoning.  I try to season the ribs at least 30 minutes before cooking and then let them sit out and “sweat.”

Place on the smoker and allow to cook for 2 hours.  You may need to rotate them depending on the size and the type of grill you are using.

After two hours, get a large piece of heavy duty foil for each slab you are cooking.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Sweet Memphis BBQ Rub, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and drizzle about 1 TBS of maple syrup on the middle of the foil. Place the ribs meat side down on the foil.  Repeat the brown sugar/rub/maple syrup on the bone side of the ribs.  Pour in about 2 tablespoons of apple juice, then wrap in foil and place back in smoker.

Place back on cooker (leaving meat side down) and cook for about two hours.  Check after 1 hour, then every 15-20 minutes after for proper doneness.  The meat of the ribs should be pulled back from the rib bone approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, and the rib meat should feel tender.

Carefully remove from foil and place back on grill bone side down.  Glaze with your your favorite BBQ glaze (I use 1 cup sauce and add 1/4 cup honey to make a glaze.)

Let sit on grill for 5-10 minutes to tighten ribs if desired.

Serve and enjoy!

Reprinted with permission from http://melissacookston.com/sweet-memphis-style-ribs/.