Recipes with the Neelys


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Gina and Pat Neely put on quite a fun (and funny) cooking demonstration Saturday at Gaylord Opryland. The demo by the Memphis hosts of the Food Network’s Down Home With the Neelys was part of the first annual Southern Food & Wine Festival.

Even though I’m not a barbecue nut like most people in Memphis (blame it on my Maryland roots), it was quite a kick to watch the Neelys enthuse about the cue. And I did learn something. For me, one of the most worrisome questions about ribs is deciding when they are done. (Not that I cook ribs; I leave that to my husband, Tony.) Nonetheless, I’m always pestering him with the question, “Are you sure they’re done?”

Pat offered this memorable explanation for the done test: “If she ain’t rockin’, she ain’t ready!” To emphasize his point, he picked up a slab of perfectly cooked ribs on a fork and bounced them around. “See how they bend?” he asked laughing. “If ribs are done, they have to flip around like this.”

The couple went on to prepare barbecue spaghetti, sweet and spicy slaw, and a Jack Daniel’s cocktail called Lynchburg Lemonade. FYI, Gina doesn’t measure when she mixes up her cocktails. She just pours in the amount of whiskey she thinks she needs. That’s my kind of gal.


Neely's Dry Rub:

1 1/2 cups paprika
3/4 cup sugar
3 3/4 tablespoons onion powder
3 (about 4 pounds each) slabs beef spareribs
Neely's BBQ Sauce, recipe follows

For the rub:

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir until combined. Keep in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

For the ribs:

Rinse and dry ribs. Place on a clean cutting board and pull off the membrane, the thin fatty skin that lines the underside of the ribs. Trim the ribs of excess fat and meat. Liberally season both sides of the ribs with 1/4 to 1/2 cup Neely's BBQ Rub. Wrap ribs and refrigerate for at least 8 hours so flavors can permeate.

Preheat grill to 250 degrees F. using hickory and charcoal.

Use indirect heat and cook with the cover down.

Place ribs, meatier side down, on the grill away from the coals. Cook beef 2 hours, adding more coals as needed. Turn and cook for 45 minutes more, or until the ribs "bend" and the meat easily separates from the bone using a fork. Cook the pork ribs 3 hours. Turn and cook another hour, or until ribs bend. Remove from grill.

For dry ribs: Sprinkle extra Neely's BBQ seasoning over ribs, cut bones and serve.

For wet ribs: Coat ribs with Neely's BBQ sauce, cut and serve.

Neely's BBQ Sauce
2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer. Cooked uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic salt
3 1/2 cups Neely's BBQ sauce, recipe follows
1 pound pork, beef, or chicken, cooked and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 pound spaghetti


In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute the pepper and onion until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic salt. Add the BBQ sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and add the chopped meat.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Season liberally with salt and add spaghetti. Cook until al dente (firm but not hard) and drain. Toss spaghetti with sauce.


2 pounds green cabbage
4 carrots
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup mustard
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cut cabbage in quarters and remove core. Peel carrots and onion and cut into pieces that would fit through the feed tube of a food processor. Fit food processor with the large-holed grater attachment and push cabbage, carrots, and onions through feed tube to grate. In a large bowl, toss vegetables together.

In another medium bowl, prepare the coleslaw dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, mustard, cider vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and cayenne. Toss dressing with the cabbage mixture, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.


2 ounces Jack Daniel’s whiskey
one (12 ounce) can San Pellegrino Limonata
2 teaspoons Maraschino Cherry Juice
Maraschino Cherries, for garnish

Pour the whiskey, half of the Limonata and the maraschino cherry juice into a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Shake well to combine and divide the mixture between two highball glasses. Add the remaining Limonata and garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

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