About five miles just across the old bridge from downtown Memphis into West Memphis, AR, smoke drifted from Ray’s old metal pit in a garden shed out back of his bbq shop, as he was keeping alive the near lost art of smoking over the coals. Ray sat with me in his small restaurant on the service road. “The meat drips down, the flavor goes up!” he said. And about offset smoking (indirect method), “That’s like having the husband in one room and wife in another.” In other words bringing the meat and coals together fully consummates the barbecue! Indirect has its place, but so does charcoal-smoking, assuming a quality, natural and chemical free briquette is used. When meat is positioned high above a thin layer of coals, ribs can still be smoked low and slow with no threat of drying out. Admittedly, it’s a technique pit-masters are shying away
from for fear of too much direct heat. But Ray’s ribs were well-seasoned, smoky and yes, perfectly moist and tender. On the downside, the ribs also had a slight charcoal fluid taste. I’d like to see Ray join the many pit-masters who are ditching petroleum for more natural methods of fire-starting. Once you get used to cooking without it, it’s usually easy to detect it. And while charcoal pit smoking over the coals does have its place in the bbq universe, I still like to see some wood thrown in too. Otherwise, I loved the ribs.
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Here are a few notes about the ‘que:
- Ribs-Were moist and tender. The meat pulled easily from the bone, but maintained proper texture. The ribs also had a nicely developed bark.
- Ribs-These charcoal smoked ribs had great smoke flavor from meat drippings falling onto coals, sending smoke back up. Charcoal-smoking may not be as popular as wood smoked ‘que, but it has its place. On the downside, the ribs also had a slight charcoal fluid taste. I’d like to see Ray join the many pit-masters who are ditching petroleum for more natural methods of fire-starting.
Sauce-Had a tangy-sweet flavor that complimented the barbecue.