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It's time for barbecue!

Melissa Cookston

With Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest this week, I can’t stop thinking about barbecue!


I called Melissa Cookston, the owner of Memphis BBQ Company and the winningest woman in competition barbecue, for her tips on how to cook award-winning ribs.

Start with quality meat.  
Look for marbling in the meat, and no large pockets of fat. Look for an appealing pink color.  

Plan your cook.  
This means knowing the seasonings and rubs you’ll use, knowing which fuel you’ll use and which smoker or grill.  Pick a good hardwood such as apple wood, cherry, or even pecan, but stay away from harsher woods like hickory unless used in small quantities.

Set your fire.  
A smaller, clean burning fire is preferable to a large amount of fuel that has a hard time igniting.  Light your grill far enough in advance to get a feel for the grill and level out your temperatures.  A good temp for a home cook is 250 degrees.  

Season them up!  
There are tons of great rib seasoning blends on the market, or plenty of recipes to make your own.  Beware of overly salty seasoning blends, as they can give a “hammy” taste to ribs.

Smoke unwrapped and wrapped.
Smoke your ribs for 2 hours. Remove them, wrap them in foil with some seasoning and a ¼ cup of apple juice and place back in the grill.  Cook for 2 to 3 more hours, or until the bones have some “give” to them (check them every 30 minutes or so.). When they are done, remove the ribs from the foil, baste in sauce, and let them cook for another 10 minutes or until the sauce sets. 

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Melissa Cookston is a 7-time world barbecue champion; owner of Memphis BBQ Company, a barbecue restaurant with locations in Horn Lake, Mississippi and Dunwoody, Georgia; an author of two cookbooks, “Smokin in the Boy’s Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South;” and a celebrated southern Delta chef.

Recognized nationally from many appearances on national news and talks shows as well as cooking shows and Food Network, Cookston served as a judge on season 4 of Destination America’s “BBQ Pitmasters,” and was named one of America’s most influential BBQ Pitmasters and personalities by Fox News.

For more information, visit melissacookston.com.