Serves 6

Recipe from Fire & Smoke: A Pitmaster’s Secretsby Chris Lilly.

“Gradually, competition barbecue has morphed into something that is far different from what I grew up with,” says Lilly. “It has turned into a face-off to see who can pack the most complex flavors into their meat by using multiple dry rubs, sauces, liquid seasoning wraps, and bastes. With that said, there is a current movement to take barbecue back to what it used to be while still enjoying the competition and camaraderie around the grill. These back-to-basic competitions can restrict the use of pans, foil, digital thermometers, and certain flavor enhancers. The winning recipes are usually the ones where the meat is the star and simplicity is rewarded. This is a recipe I used successfully at just such an event, the Meatopia contest at the Eat Real Festival in Oakland, California. We won Best Beef Ribs and overall Grand Champion with this simple yet tasty dish. Meats, smoke, dry rub, and cola: very simple and very Southern.”


  • 1.5 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2.5 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons Worcestershire powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 pounds beef back ribs
  • 1.5 cups cola, at room temperature and flat


  • 1

    Build a charcoal fire for indirect cooking by situating the coals on only one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty. Preheat the grill to 250°F.

  • 2

    For the dry rub: In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, Worcestershire powder, cayenne, coriander, celery salt, onion powder, turmeric, and nutmeg.

  • 3

    Season the beef ribs generously with the rub. Pour the cola into an empty spray bottle.

  • 4

    Put the beef ribs bone side down over indirect heat, away from the coals, close the lid, and cook for 2 hours. Open the grilland mist the beef ribs with the cola. Close the lid and continue cooking, misting the ribs with cola every 45 minutes, until the ribs are tender or the internal temperature reaches 205°F, 2 to 3 more hours. Because of varying thicknesses of beef ribs, it is impossible to determine an exact cook time. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

  • 5

    Cut the ribs into smaller pieces and serve.


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