To achieve authentic results at home, we turn to a technique called a charcoal snake. This setup involves arranging coals in a C shape in a kettle grill and lighting just one end. The coals slowly ignite each other as they burn along the length of the snake, producing hours of heat without requiring reloading.
And because the heat moves around the edges of the grill, you don’t have to reposition the ribs as they cook.
Topping the charcoal snake with evenly spaced wood chunks and letting them smolder lends authentic barbecue flavor. Placing a pan of water in the middle of the snake keeps the temperature stable and mimics the moist environment of a smoker.
Arranging the ribs directly over the hot coals would cause them to burn before they cook through, so place them slightly off-center, with the meat carefully positioned over the pan and the gap in the snake.