Memphis in May Ribs (smoked loin back ribs)...

Dear BBQ Friend:

I have four things for you today... the Rome, GA BBQ contest video, the 2012 Memphis in May video, a review of Southern Q Smokers new water pan smoker, and the smoked loin back ribs recipe I used at Memphis in May.

First... the Southern Q Water Pan Smoker

A lot of you may know about Tim Thomas and his TNT Southern gravity fed insulated smokers. Well... Tim has teamed up with Scott Smith of Que'n Stew'n and Brew'n to start making a new water pan smoker. Southern Q SmokersBasically the firebox is on the bottom and the water pan is directly above that producing a moist cooking environment so your meat comes out nice and tender every time. Old Plantation, a member has been using one for a while now and has been doing very well lately. Old Plantation and Que'n Stew'n and Brew'n are both hot & fast power cookers and the pit was designed to cook at higher temperatures. Of course it can do low & slow too. It holds 600 lbs of meat, so one smoker is all you need at a contest. Heck... I have close to $8000 invested in my two Cookshack FEC-100's and they only hold 200 lbs between the both of them. Their new water pan smoker is in the $4500 I think.

Call Scott Smith at 770-547-0110 and tell him Bill Anderson sent you and you'll get a free lifetime membership with purchase. Their website is - you can see some video of the new smoker in this video shot at the Roman Roast on the River BBQ contest in Rome, GA...

2012 Memphis in May

I'm not exactly sure if I went to a BBQ contest or a B.S. contest last weekend, but it is what it is. I sort of knew it was going to be that way, so I went more for the experience than anything else. Memphis in May BBQ ContestMy ribs were good, but my dog and pony show was seriously lacking compared to the other teams with more experience at Memphis type contests.

There were teams there with two story party platforms and teams like Yazoo's Delta Q had a site with floor decks, circus tent, carpeting, professionally decorated with plants, flowers, nice tables, a shiny expensive smoker and trailer to go with it all. Their team must have been 15 members strong. Of course, at Memphis in May, you need to be able to talk the talk and not necessarily just walk the walk. In Memphis, it all about the show and the BBQ. A team with great BBQ and no show doesn't stand a chance. I think I'll stick to blind box contests from now on, but at least I can say I've been there, done that. Here's the video of my experience...

Now, on to the Memphis in May ribs...

Ever since 2004, I have always cooked spareribs in contests. There's more fat in spareribs and they generally taste better. I have done very well with spares in contests and they are about half the price of loin backs to boot. Memphis in May Ribs

But everybody told me that if you cook spareribs in Memphis, you'll pretty much get laughed out of the city. So... I needed to practice my loin backs. The first couple of attempts, I just used my sparerib recipe, but they came out a little on the dry side. Probably because of the leaner and meatier ribs. Danny of Pit Bulls Up in Smoke was in Savannah doing some work and we decided to do a practice run. He showed me his recipe and they turned out pretty good... very moist and they pulled cleanly from the bone.

Now... I did know they liked loin backs in Memphis, but I didn't exactly know how they liked them prepared. I heard rumors that they liked them more "fall off the bone". Other rumors talked about dry ribs and yes, ribs that are sauced with a not so sweet sauce. Bottom line... we finished at the bottom of the pack mainly because we brought our winning KCBS game to a Memphis style contest. The ribs were good though - here's the Memphis in May Ribs recipe...

  1. We used loin backs from Sam's Club. Pull the membrane and cut the bone out that is between the ribs - it's part of the backbone and often called the chine bone. It took me all day to trim 18 racks of ribs this way. I think prepping a whole hog would be easier and I know for sure cooking shoulders would have been much easier.
  2. Sprinkle on some of your favorite rub and smoke at 250 deg with a fruitwood for two hours.
  3. Place a cookie cooling rack with short legs in a full sized foil pan. Brush on syrup generously on both sides while in the pan... warm up so everything melts together... 2 cups honey, 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup dark agave, 2 containers squeeze margarine. This is enough for 6-8 racks of ribs. Adjust accordingly. Cover pan tightly with foil. Back on smoker for 2 hours.
  4. Brush ribs again with pan drippings and remove from pan and back on smoker for 30 minutes.
  5. Glaze with your favorite sauce and back on smoker for 30 minutes. Then you're done!


Bill Anderson