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Rubbed with sugar and spices, these ribs have a good kick to them. Balance their heat by brushing them with a sweet-and-sour Bourbon-Bacon Barbecue Sauce.
Special equipment: You’ll need a charcoal grill to turn it into a smoker (or better yet, if you have a smoker, use it). You will also need long heatproof tongs, matches or a lighter, newspaper, 1 disposable aluminum 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, 1 disposable aluminum 8-inch square pan, a baking sheet, 2 oven mitts, 2 buckets of water (one to soak the wood chips and the other to refill the aluminum loaf pan), and an oven thermometer.
A chimney starter, which looks like a large beer stein, is handy for lighting charcoal. They can be purchased at hardware stores or online.
Lump charcoal is preferred because the charred pieces of wood burn hotter and cleaner than briquettes, the uniform black pillows made from carbonized wood and a starchy binder. If you do buy briquettes, avoid the self-lighting ones, which are laden with chemicals.
Buy pure, resin-free, bark-free wood chips. Choose your wood chips based on the origin of the ingredient you are smoking. For example, use cedar chips for Pacific salmon and hickory chips for Southern catfish. For this recipe we recommend apple chips, but any wood will do. Wood chips can be purchased at most hardware stores and grocery stores during the summer months, or online.
Game plan: The ribs need to smoke for about 1 1/2 hours. During the last 15 minutes, slather them with barbecue sauce. They can be made ahead and reheated over low heat in a smoker or oven.
You can hack a standard grill to serve as a smoker, but if you're serious about your barbecue, why not invest in the real thing? This smoker cooks low and slow and infuses your food with great flavor. (You can use it as a charcoal grill, too!)Buy on Amazon ›
Prepare the grill: Remove the cooking grate and set it aside. Fill a chimney starter three-quarters of the way with charcoal, then pour the unlit charcoal onto one side of the charcoal grate. Using tongs, stack the charcoal in a slight slope against the side of the grill bowl. Remove 1 cup of the wood chips from the water, shaking off any excess water, and lay them in the middle of the unlit charcoal. Fill the chimney again halfway with charcoal. Place the chimney on the charcoal grate next to the unlit coals. Twist two or three sheets of newspaper, form the twisted paper into rings, and place them under and inside the chimney. Light the newspaper through the holes at the bottom of the chimney. After about 5 minutes, the charcoal should be red and flames should have appeared toward the top of the chimney.
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