The best thing that ever happened to me was moving from lily white Kentucky when I was a teenager to Birmingham, Alabama. It was like taking a magic carpet ride to a land a million miles away both culturally and psychically.
Alabama is the land of plenty with white country folks, Greek immigrants a couple generations away from their homeland, African Americans, Italians and Lebanese all stirring the pots in kitchens both humble and grand.
As a serious eater I took to my new home with aplomb. Plumbing out all the local restaurants for their delicacies became my hobby which I quickly turned into a paycheck from the local rag.
While I loved all the exotic foods I'd never been exposed to it was the soul food that powered me on a daily basis: Oxtails, Collard Greens, Smothered Chicken, Fried Pork chops, Whiting Fish Sandwiches, Skins and Pieces [ Chicken Wings simmered with skin on potatoes] the list was endless and I was determined to winnow the finest from a city whose offering were seemingly endless.
At culinary school the foods I was so enthusiastically eating every day were looked down on by the administration. I'd lobby to have a class centered on soul food and be summarily shot down in favor of the cooking of a French man who'd been dead for a couple hundred years.
Though I never won any of those battles I did manage to become a respectable soul food cook. Here's one of my favorite recipes:
Smoked Country Style Pork Ribs
10 lbs, Pork Ribs, Country Style [the ones cut from the blade end of the pork loin]
Salt, Kosher, Sea Salt or another good kind of non iodized salt
Pepper, Black, Fresh Ground if possible
Charcoal, 18 lumps [Hard wood lump works best but Kingsford will do the trick]
Hickory, 6 Chunks, baseball sized, soaked in water for at least a day
* Generously salt and pepper the ribs, use lots of both til you have a good crust all over the meat
* Build your fire [this site presumes a certain knowledge of barbecue basics such as arranging your coals into a pyramid etc]
* When your charcoal is almost completely gray give your smoker a little shake and let the embers settle
* Put soaked wet wood on top of embers
* Arrange meat on grating on opposite side of fire, open vent all the way over the ribs
* For first hour let smoker cook at full heat with vent all the way open
* For second hour close vent half way
* For third hour and onward close vent 90% of the way
* Your fire should give you about 4 hours of heat, 100's of factors contribute to the longevity of the fire so your results may be shorter or longer
* At the 4 hour mark your ribs should be fork tender, if they're not, place them in a big baking pan and finish them in the oven [at no more than 200 degrees] til tender
I cook 10 pounds at a time but you can cook less if you'd like. The first day I eat them as barbecue with Archibalds [from Northport, Alabama] sauce. The second day I eat them as carnitas tacos on El Milagro tortillas. The third day I like to use them in a stir fry.
There is no fourth day.
Bon Appetit y'all
Related: RL Reeves Jr's above recipe deemed unpublishable by Meatpaper http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/index.cfm/2012/5/24