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The secret to great barbecue in your own backyard isn’t necessarily going out and buying all sorts of special equipment. You don’t require a smoker, and you don’t need the huge barbecue pits the pitmasters use in the South. All you need is a grill, some wood chips, and a disposable roasting pan filled with water to convert a charcoal kettle into a makeshift smoker.
These modifications are so successful that the ribs only need to spend 90 minutes on the grill to get the big, Memphis taste we were after.
Memphis-Style Barbecued Spareribs
Note: Don’t remove the membrane that runs along the bone side of the ribs; it prevents some of the fat from rendering out, leading to more tender results. Pouring lit briquettes over unlit briquettes provides the low, steady heat necessary for effective smoking. To maintain a constant temperature, manipulate the upper and lower vents of your grill and do not remove the lid any more often than necessary. For less spiciness, reduce the cayenne to 1/2 teaspoon.
1. Combine rub ingredients in small bowl. Place racks on rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle rub on both sides of each rack, rubbing and pressing to adhere. Set racks aside while preparing grill.
2. Combine apple juice and vinegar in small bowl; set aside. Open top and bottom grill vents halfway and arrange 15 unlit charcoal briquettes evenly on 1 side of grill. Place disposable pan filled with 1 inch water on other side of grill. Light large chimney starter filled one-third with charcoal (about 33 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are half coated with thin layer of ash, about 15 minutes. Empty coals into grill on top of unlit briquettes to cover half of grill. Sprinkle soaked wood chips over coals. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes; scrape grate clean with grill brush.
3. Place ribs, meat side down, on grate over water pan. Cover grill, positioning top vent over ribs to draw smoke through grill. Cook ribs 45 minutes, adjusting vents to keep temperature inside grill around 250 to 275 degrees. Flip ribs meat side up, turn 180 degrees, and switch their positions so that rack that was nearer fire is on outside.
Brush each rack with 2 tablespoons apple juice mixture; cover grill and cook another 45 minutes. About 30 minutes before removing ribs from grill, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
4. Transfer ribs, meat side up, to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Brush top of each rib with 2 tablespoons apple juice mixture. Pour 1 1/2 cups water into bottom of baking sheet; roast 1 hour. Brush ribs with remaining apple juice mixture and continue to roast until meat is tender but not falling off bone (internal temperature should be 195 to 200 degrees), 1 to 2 hours.
Transfer ribs to cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 15 minutes. Cut ribs between bones to separate and serve.
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