I don't cook my barbecue ribs on the grill. It may be heresy, but I have better things to do with my life than stand around with a sop mop or a spray bottle and keep the things from drying out, which is what will happen if you try to cook your ribs on most backyard grills.
However, you DO need to get the smoke flavor into the ribs and that is done very well on the grill. I create a reasonable size fire using charcoal briquettes. Briquettes burn as hot as hard wood charcoal, but burn longer because they are "manufactured" and compressed. I don't use the kind that have extra chemicals added to them, but regular briquettes will work just fine for you. I use about one chimney full.
Once they are going I pile them all up on one side. I take my wood chips (I use chips, not hunks) and make a packet with aluminum foil and put the chips in the packet and seal it up.
I then poke a four or five holes in the packet and put the packet on the coals. This is your smoke source. You can use whatever kind of wood you want, as long as it is hardwood. Pine will smoke just great and make your ribs taste like turpentine. My favorite wood has been apple and pecan, but hickory is what I usually use, because that is what I can find in the stores. I can also find mesquite, but I don't like it much. Your call.
Put the grate in place on the grill, put a piece of aluminum foil across the middle of the grill and then put your ribs on the side away from the coals. So if your coals are on the left side of your grill, your ribs go on the right. The aluminum foil is there to keep the direct heat from cooking your ribs. Yep. We are trying NOT to cook the ribs now. They will cook some, but we are trying to avoid drying them out or getting them too hot. In a very small grill, I have place the ribs on top of a sheet of foil with a couple of holes punched in it and then got the fire as far away as possible. The only job at this point it to get it to smoke.
Close the lid on the grill and close the vents most of the way. The idea is to have a slow fire that will make the wood in the aluminum packet smoke, but not cook the pork.
I let it go until the smoke has stopped. That will be in the hour to 2 hour range. Don't hover over it, and don't keep opening it to check on it. If the smoking is working right, you'll see the smoke coming out from the vent. Eventually it will stop. When it stops, you're done.
I was on a plane today and my seat mate asked me how to get great ribs if he didn't have a grill.
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