10 to 12 servings of ribs; 20 to 24 servings of beef brisket

NOTES: You need a long-stemmed instant-read thermometer with a range from 200° to 400°. Clean old ash from the barbecue before starting. The herb spice rub and step 1 of the barbecue sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill sauce. Store herb spice rub airtight.

How to Make It

Step 1

In a bowl, pour water over chips to cover. Soak for at least 30 minutes.

Step 2

Rinse meat and pat dry. Cut each rack of spareribs or back ribs, between ribs, into 2 or 3 pieces. Set aside 2 tablespoons herb spice rub. Rub remaining herb mixture on all sides of meat (rubber gloves help keep spices from sticking to your hands).

Step 3

Ignite 55 charcoal briquets on firegrate of barbecue (see notes). When coals are coated with gray ash, in 15 to 20 minutes, mound against one side of firegrate. Set a drip pan (one fashioned out of heavy-duty foil is okay) in remaining space on firegrate. Add 3 briquets to mound; scatter 2 cups drained soaked wood chips over the top. Set grill in place. Lay meat on grill away from coals. Overlap ribs slightly, if necessary, to fit.

Step 4

Cover barbecue and monitor temperature by inserting a long-stemmed instant-read thermometer through lid vent. Open or close vents to maintain a temperature between 225° and 275° (the temperature may start higher and take about 30 minutes to stabilize in that range); for more heat, open vents; for less heat, partially close vents. If temperature drops so low that you can't increase it by opening vents, add 1 or 2 more briquets and open all vents until they ignite.

Step 5

After the first hour, remove lid; using tongs or thick hot pads, tilt grill to expose mound of coals; add 2 or 3 more briquets and 1 cup chips. If meat pieces overlap, adjust slightly so they smoke evenly. Replace grill and lid; continue smoking 1 hour longer, maintaining temperature between 225° and 275°. Repeat, adding 2 or 3 more briquets and remaining chips, and smoke another hour longer.

Step 6

Lift meat from grill and wrap each piece in a double layer of heavy-duty foil, sealing tightly. Return meat to barbecue grill, not over coals. Add 3 to 5 more briquets, cover, and maintain temperature at 225° to 275°, adjusting vents as needed and adding 2 to 4 more briquets each hour. Cook wrapped pork spareribs or back ribs until meat pulls easily from bones, 2 to 3 hours for spareribs, about 1 hour for back ribs. Cook wrapped beef brisket until tender when pierced, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Step 7

Set meat in a dish and open foil. Let rest in juices for 5 to 15 minutes, then lift from juices and transfer to a cutting board. Pour juices into a measuring cup. Spoon off fat, then add 1 cup juices to barbecue sauce; reserve remaining for another use.

Step 8

Cut ribs apart between bones. Cut brisket across the grain into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The smoke may have tinged meat pink near surface.) Add salt to taste. Serve with traditional barbecue sauce.

Step 9

Per serving of spareribs: 479 cal., 68% (324 cal.) from fat; 35 g protein; 36 g fat (13 g sat.); 9 g carbo (0 g fiber); 329 mg sodium; 143 mg chol.

Step 10

Per serving of pork back ribs: 550 cal., 72% (396 cal.) from fat; 36 g protein; 44 g fat (16 g sat.); 9 g carbo (0 g fiber); 367 mg sodium; 172 mg chol.

Step 11

Per serving of brisket: 384 cal., 70% (270 cal.) from fat; 26 g protein; 30 g fat (12 g sat.); 1 g carbo (0 g fiber); 168 mg sodium; 99 mg chol.

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