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Seven-time world barbecue champion Paul Kirk (www.baron-of-bbq.com) is to grilling what Elvis was to rock and roll -- the king. So we asked him for a stick-to-your-ribs recipe (one used in competition) that’ll blow away the judges at your Fourth of July cookout. “Recipes to me are a plaything,” says Kirk, whose new book (coauthored along with Ardie A. Davis), America’s Best BBQ: 100 Recipes from America’s Best Smokehouses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses, and Restaurants (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $20), hit shelves last month. In other words, have some fun with this one.

Barbecue Ribs


BARBECUE SEASONING:
1/4 cup garlic salt
1/4 cup onion salt
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup annatto powder (or more paprika)
1/4 cup restaurant-grind black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons ground celery seeds
3 slabs St. Louis–style spareribs

Combine all of the ingredients and blend well. Trim the ribs of any excess fat and remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Season the ribs all over with the barbecue seasoning. Place bone side down in a covered smoker preheated to 230 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the ribs and baste with apple juice every hour for four to five hours or until you can take two side-by-side ribs and tear them apart easily.

During the last 30 minutes, glaze the ribs on both sides with barbecue sauce and cook for 10 minutes, repeating the process two or three times. Remove the ribs from the smoker and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, covered. Cut into individual ribs and serve hot.

SPICY AND SWEET BARBECUE SAUCE:


2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon horseradish (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Add all the ingredients in small saucepan and heat on medium heat until bubbly (about five to eight minutes), or combine in microwave-safe container and heat on high for five minutes.