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Memphis Rub
Naked Ribs

In Memphis, purists eat ribs naked -- meaning they're eaten without sauce.

Memphis might be called the birthplace of the grilling and barbecue rub, in the same sense that it's the home of the blues and the home of rock 'n' roll. If the technique didn't originate there, its popularity did.

Legend credits one man and one restaurant: Charlie Vergos and the Rendezvous. Vergos was the son of Greek immigrants. His rub recipe evolved from traditional Greek seasonings his grandfather used to make chili and the Cajun cooking he discovered in Louisiana.

The Rendezvous recipe is by no means the only one in town, of course -- not when the city boasts 100 barbecue joints or more. This recipe is a round-up of the best of the local flavor.

  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 T. packed brown sugar
  • 1 T. onion powder
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
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