When I moved from Memphis to Virginia, I seriously missed the dry ribs from Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous restaurant, down by the Peabody Hotel. This is my take on Charlie's seasoning. I've published this on the web, before, and others have borrowed from it, but as far as I know, mine was the first real clone to use whole mustard and coriander seed, as found in the shakers on the table at the Rendezvous. This rub is great for shaking on naked ribs, or ribs the way I prepare them.

The Rendezvous uses a brine, first, and then cooks their baby backs relatively quickly over direct coals at moderate heat. I still prefer low and slow spare ribs, the way my grandaddy taught me, without a brine.

Rendezvous-style Dry Rub for Ribs

1 tablespoon whole cumin
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
4 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground bay leaf, optional
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
3/4 teaspoon cayenne

Toast the cumin. Grind fine in a mortar. Transfer to mixing bowl. Grind salt and transfer to mixing bowl.

Add sugar, pepper, thyme, oregano, paprika, chili powder, mustard seed, mustard powder, coriander seed, ground coriander, bay leaf, celery seed, garlic, and cayenne. Mix thoroughly.

For each slab of ribs, rub both sides using about 2 to 3 tablespoons of dry rub. Wrap and refrigerate overnight if possible.

If cooking on the smoker, cook ribs in indirect heat at 210° to 225°. If cooking in the oven, cook ribs -- on foil-lined pans -- in oven at 225º. Allow two hours per pound, calculated on the largest slab.

Half an hour to one hour before ribs are done, coat top surface with about 2 tablespoons of the dry rub. Continue cooking until meat pulls back uniformly from the bone ends by 1/4" to 3/8".

Notes: You can substitute 1 teaspoon of garlic powder per tablespoon of minced garlic. Rendezvous-style means the inclusion of Greek seasonings like oregano and thyme, and the whole mustard and coriander seeds that are peculiar to the Rendezvous seasoning mixture.

Nick Vergos says that the ribs are soaked overnight in a proportion of 4 cups water, 4 cups cider vinegar, and 1/3 cup dry rub mixture. Cooked over low, direct coals, and dusted with dry rub at the end of cooking. The ribs are supposed to be done when 3/8" of rib bone is showing on the ribs. The published Vergos recipe doesn't include sugar or minced garlic, but the published version also doesn't include ingredients that I know are in the seasoning they sell and serve at the table, either. The published version also calls for 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup black pepper - extremely salty.