It started at Corky’s restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee.
What an experience. It was August for one thing, and if I have one piece of advice for you it’s this: Do not visit Memphis in August if you can avoid it. But this trip was to celebrate a wonderful life, that of Keith’s grandmother, Maxine. The whole family was there and other than the sweltering heat and humidity, we had a fabulous time.
One evening, we had dinner at Corky’s, a famous Memphis BBQ and Rib joint. A few things stand out from the meal: one, a mix of horror and excitement when the server informed us that the onion loaf we’d ordered was ‘draining’ in the back and would be out shortly; two, that my nephew was little and crabby from the hot day and not wanting to be confined to a chair in a restaurant, a malady that was immediately resolved by a giant bowl of vanilla ice cream that the server plopped down in front of him (His parents were not informed that this was about to happen, nor did they care.); three, the most exquisitely delicious dry rub ribs that I had ever tasted.
Since then, I’ve never had their equal. Regardless of the term ‘dry’ that’s attached to ribs on menus, invariably the ribs come out slathered in sauce. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the sauce, but there was something about those Memphis ribs – dry, salty and savory with crisp edges where the grill had been extra hot.
After trying a number of rub recipes, I’ve finally found the one. It’s a cinch to make and all of the ingredients are easy to come by. I’ve called it ‘all-purpose’ because we’ve used it on just about everything we’ve grilled this summer, from shrimp and chicken to corn and zucchini.
This dry rub doesn’t come with the drippy heat of Memphis or the wisdom and kindness of a Southern gentleman, but it may just treat you to the best ribs you’ve ever tasted.
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika (or regular paprika if you can't find smoked)
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- ½ teaspoon celery seed
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- Combine all ingredients and use as you like on any meats or vegetables that you plan to grill.