This is the craziest rib method I have ever tried. I had some really low expectations but I tried it anyway. I was floored at how well they turned out. For those of you not familiar with the method, let me explain so that you will understand why I was skeptical. See, the Rendezvous method requires the ribs to be cooked over direct heat at 300-350 for one hour with repeated bastings. 1 hour? Seems nuts. Most people think I’m nuts when I say I can make great ribs in two hours, but one hour is nuts by my own standards. I tried it anyway and the results were spectacular…
There are many different variations of this method developed by Charlie Vergos at Rendevous Ribs in Memphis but this is the one I used. First make up the Rendezvous Rub. There are many different recipes for this. This is the one I used:
1/4 Cup salt
1/4 Cup pepper
1 Tbsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp celery salt
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp chili powder
This makes much more than you need but it can be saved. And while it seems like there is a ton of salt in this recipe, it’s not as bad as it seems once you see the method. The original recipe called for twice as much salt and celery seed. I cut the salt in half and since I didn’t have any celery seed I substituted celery salt which I had in my my pantry.
Combine 1/4 cup of the rub with two cups of white vinegar and two cups water and set aside. Do not put the rub on the meat. The rub only goes into the mop sauce and then on the meat at the end.
I actually bought a can of the real rub sold by the Rendezvous company. When I get a chance to try it I will update this post.
Now let’s get to the ribs. I brined ribs for the first time but you don’t have to do this. For my first stab at this method I did half a slab that I brined and half that I did not. The ones that I did not brine were really good. The ones I brined were better. I’m a firm believe in brining. I’ve done three different blind taste tests on people and the results have been in favor of the brined rib 100% of the time. Here’s a link to the last time I did it and documented the process.
The ingredients for the brine:
32 ounces of pomegranate juice
1/3 cup salt
1/2 loose packed brown sugar
I mixed up the juice, salt and sugar on the stove over medium heat for maybe two minutes stirring constantly until the sugar and salt was dissolved:
I turned off the burner and tossed in 4-5 ice cubes. I stirred some more until the ice was gone and the brine was back to room temperature. You don’t want to cook the ribs in the brine:
I skinned the ribs by pealing back the membrane on the bone side of the ribs. Here is a quick video of how to skin ribs. If you can’t get them barehanded like Tom does in the vid, paper towels are your friend. They really help to grip the skin:
I placed the ribs in a ziplock bag with the brine 4 hours before they were to go on the grill:
You will notice that a full slab of ribs are in the ziplock, but I only did a half slab with this method and the other half went onto the smoker for my usual method. I removed the ribs from the brine, rinsed them under cold water and patted then dry with paper towels.
I wanted to test the brined ribs with a couple different cooking styles and test the differences so I did one slab with no brine or marinade as a control for the experiment. The other four half slabs got a rub and went onto the smoker. The two on the right only got a little fresh cracked black pepper on each side:
Now this is where it gets interesting. The Rendezvous Method requires the meat to be cooked over direct heat at 300-350 and the meat kept at 18-24 inches over the top of the heat. I don’t have a bullet or vertical smoker so how can pull this off? Enter in the new Char-Broil Big Easy Smoker, Roster, and Grill:
Char-Broil sent us this grill and the new CB940X to review. For full disclosure they didn’t pay us to review them but did not charge us for the grills either. This is the first gas grill I’ve ever owned.
I’ve done a few things on it to give it a thorough review. This is one of them. It does some things well and some things not so well. I will give the full review after I do a couple more things on it. In the mean time I will discuss using it for this recipe which it did very well.
***Update ~ Here is the review in all its glory***
Why did it work so well? Because it’s got a deep cooking chamber which gives me the effect of a vertical or bullet smoker:
The grill has a fairly deep chamber running about 16 inches and worked perfectly for this:
But first I need to add some smoke flavor or I might as well cook these on my stove. The Big Easy comes with a little smoker box that can be filled with chips or pellets but it doesn’t last long. Maybe 15 minutes and then it’s a pain to change out the chips. But that’s not all that hard to overcome. A little tin foil and I have all the smoke I want. I made tin foil trays and filled them with apple wood chips and placed them on the bottom of the grill chamber:
The foil will keep me from having to clean up ash from the bottom of the chamber. Here we have the foil trays the next day:
And viola, no ash at the bottom of the chamber after removing the trays:
I spark the grill up and put it on high to get the chips to smoke:
Once the chips start to smoke I drop down to low:
According to my cheap oven thermometer the temp is 450 on the grill grate:
But once I open the lid the temp will drop faster than the cheap thermometer can keep up with. Not to mention the aluminum grill grate will dissipate the heat well, so I put the ribs on bone side down and slathered with the mop sauce:
I left the lid up and slathered the ribs three times over the first 15 minutes. Here are the ribs at 15 minutes:
Here they are on the bone side. Our goal is to get this side golden brown and flip at 30 minutes. At 15 minutes the bone side is goldening nicely, but not ready to flip:
And you can see that the temp is more in line with what we’re looking for at this point and stayed constant for the rest of the session:
I basted a total of maybe five times and then flipped at 30 minutes. Here is what they looked like at 30 minutes on top:
Notice the pull back of the meat from the bones:
Here they are flipped:
One half slab has some significant blackening. That is the one that I brined. That half slab is full of extra sugars that blackened more than the plain half slab. Don’t be scared by the blackening. The ribs were not burnt.
On a very positive note about the grill, as you can see, the smoke is rolling out very well from the foil trays.
After 45 minutes I checked the meat side of the non brined slab:
Here is the brined slab. A little blacker, but not a problem, trust me:
I basted a 3-4 times after I flipped them. The recipe called for the ribs to be on for 30 minutes on each side but the ribs told me they were done at 25 minutes based. This picture tells it all. You can see the unbrined slab looking golden and perfect and the brined slab you can see the meat pealing back from the bone which is what you are looking for with any ribs you do no matter what method you use:
Here are two of the ribs from the Rendezvous Method on a plate along on the left along side three other ribs that I did on the smoker as I played around with brining ribs. You will notice that the smoked ribs have a smoke ring and the Rendezvous ribs do not:
The recipe called for the rub to be sprinkled over the ribs before serving but I wanted to get a taste for the ribs without it and frankly I was a little scared that the salt would overpower them. After a couple bites of each I added a sprinkle of the rub:
The sprinkled rub really finished the ribs off perfectly. The salt was not overpowering and they really were delicious. They were meaty, tender and juicy with the brined ribs being extremely juicy. They were not fall off the bone but they were excellent and since I feel that fall off the bone is overdone these came out beautifully.
I wasn’t the only one that tried these. I used my FiL and MiL as taste testers yet again (God love them for putting up with so many of my grilling experiments) and they raved over the Rendezvous ribs.
Minimal prep, short cooking times, and incredible flavor. This was a home run. So much so that while I prep this write up for you, I have some spares in a cider brine that will be going on the Big Easy in about 20 minutes. But as my satellite just went out, I’m guessing I’m going to get drenched in the process. Ah well. Wouldn’t be the first time I drug a grill down to the garage although it will be the first time I drug a gas grill though!?!? Then again, wouldn’t be the first time I got soaked grilling either…
What I would do differently:
- Next time I plan on doing the brine with apple cider over pomegranate to see how that turns out as it’s my favorite marinade. Also I plan on adding garlic to the brine.
- I plan on tweaking the Rendezvous rub. Maybe use celery seed in the mop and possibly a little red pepper flake to add a little heat.
- I might change up the mop sauce and replace the water with beer.
***Update ~ Since doing these a couple times with the rub above I tried it with the real Rendezvous Rub:
The rub doesn’t have near the salt content as what mine does above and is really good although it has a great deal of cumin in it. My only complaint is that I would prefer a little less cumin, but I know there are folks out there that love it. My MiL is one of them. I really enjoyed it but I couldn’t do this rub every time, but that’s just me.
I also tried to recreate this method on a standard charcoal grill and failed miserably. I couldn’t keep the temps constant. They fluctuated between 200-400 and I had frequent flareups. The resulting ribs were much tougher than those on the Big Easy:
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
For other rib recipes click here.