Memphis in May is largest Pork cooking contest on the planet! Every May thousands of attendees gather on the banks of the Mississippi River to witness the “Super Bowl of Swine”. This year my team, The Killer Hogs, entered the Rib category at MIM and we shot a video of our rib recipe while we were there.
At Memphis in May we face three rounds of judging – if you make it that far – so we cook plenty of ribs. This year I brought 24 racks just for the contest, plus another 15 just to practice. That’s a lot of ribs in my book! You can bet it takes a full team effort to tackle MIM and we even bring in extra help – shout out to Mark Williams from Swine Life (you’ll see him in the video) and to everyone else that helped pull it off.
On Friday, the day before the actual contest, Mark and I ran a full blown contest recipe. We prepped and seasoned 15 racks of baby back ribs and fired up Jolene for her first ever Memphis in May smoke.
She dialed right in at 275, and we fed her a stick of hickory every 45 minutes throughout the cook. Our rib process is fairly quick. Each rack gets slathered with a touch of mustard to bind the seasonings, then on the back we layer on Swine Life Mississippi Grind and Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub. On top we layer Swine Life Mississippi Grind and Killer Hogs The Hot Rub.
This combo produces a sweet and savory rib with a beautiful mahogany bark. The ribs are placed on the pit and spritzed with water every 30-45 minutes to keep them from drying out.
After two hours in the smoke we wrap the ribs with brown sugar, Parkay margarine, Kosmo’s Cherry Apple Habanero and Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce. They go back on the pit for 1 hour or until a probe thermometer reads 204 degrees in between the bones. At this point we rest the ribs in a dry cooler to stop the cooking process and allow time for moisture to reabsorb into the meat.
To finish the ribs off we take them out of the foil and place on aluminum foil boats for easy transfer. They get a final dusting of dry rub to pretty up the tops and a glaze of sauce. The final glaze is a combo of 18oz Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce, 9oz Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce, and 2oz Texas Pepper Jelly Rib Candy. Heat the glaze a little just so it’s not cool and brush it over each rack. Return the ribs to the smoker for 20-30 minutes to set the glaze.
At this point the ribs are ready to be judged. For the blind round we cut them into 2 bone segments so the judges can pull the bones apart to check for tenderness. At Memphis in May no garnish is allowed so the only thing in the box is ribs.
The next round is on site judging where 3 judges come at separate times. We get to set down with each for 15 minutes and convince them face to face why our ribs are better than the next team. It’s a daunting challenge but man it’s fun!! If you’re lucky enough to make it out in the top three of these rounds then you have to do it all again in a final round where the top 3 ribs face off against the best 3 hogs and shoulders.
We didn’t finish as well as we hoped – 33rd in ribs, but man we sure had a good time and met a lot of new friends. There’s always next year, and you can bet that the Killer Hogs will be back trying to walk across that stage!
1/4 cup Texas Pepper Jelly Apple Cherry Habanero Rib Candy
Combine the sauces and warm before glazing on ribs.
Prepare smoker for indirect cooking at 275 degrees. Add a chunks of hickory and cherry wood for smoke flavor.
Remove the membrane and trim excess fat from each rack of ribs. In contest we also remove the end bones to straighten the rack but at home it’s not necessary. Apply thin coat of mustard to the back of the ribs; season with medium layer of Swine Life Mississippi Grind; sweat the ribs for 15-20 minutes; and season with medium layer of Killer Hogs Hot Rub.
Flip the ribs over and apply mustard to the meat side. Season with a medium coat of Swine Life Mississippi Grind, sweat for 15-20 minutes, then apply medium layer of Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub.
Place the ribs on the smoker and smoke for 2 hours spritzing with water every 30-45 minutes as needed. Wrap each slab individually in aluminum foil. In the foil layer 1/4 cup Brown Sugar, Parkay Margarine, Kosmo’s Apple Cherry Habanero Glaze, and Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce. Place the ribs meat down in the mixture and add a little Vinegar Sauce to the back side. Close the foil up and around the ribs folding the ends up for easy access to check tenderness.
Return the Ribs to the smoker and continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 204 degrees. Check the ribs after 1 hour in the wrap and every 15 minutes until desired tenderness.
Rest the ribs for 1 hour in a dry cooler. Unwrap the foil and transfer the ribs to a foil boat for easy moving. Dust the bone side with Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub and glaze with the sauce mixture* recipe below.
Carefully flip the ribs over and dust with a little Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub on the meat side. Brush the tops with the glaze and return to the pit for 30 minutes to set.