There may be no tastier way to ring in Juneteenth than by making a batch of these fall-off-the-bone barbecue beef ribs basted with spicy harissa. The recipe, borrowed from Nicole A. Taylor’s 2022 cookbook, Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations, pays homage to Black pitmasters. An equal quantity of pork ribs can be substituted for the beef.

Yield: serves 4-6

Time: 15 hours


  • 8 cup hickory wood chips
  • 4-5 lb. center-cut beef ribs, white membrane removed
  • 1 tbsp. prepared horseradish
  • 6 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup harissa, divided


  1. In a large bowl or bucket, soak the wood chips in cold water for 8–12 hours.
  2. Rub the beef all over with the horseradish, then sprinkle with the salt and black pepper. (This can be done up to one day ahead; refrigerate in a sealed bag.)
  3. Heat a charcoal grill to 250°F. Drain the wood chips and scatter a handful over the coals, then cover and cook until they begin to smoke, about 5 minutes. Place the ribs bone-side down on the grill and cover, leaving the vents open. Grill (ensuring the grill temperature stays under 275°F), turning and rotating the ribs occasionally, for 3 hours, adding a handful of wood chips every time the smoke subsides.
  4. With a heatproof brush, paint the meat with enough harissa to coat all sides, then cover and grill for 20 minutes. Repeat, brushing every 20 minutes, until the meat is falling off the bone and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 250°F, 2–3 hours more.
  5. Transfer the ribs to a platter, tent with foil, and rest for 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with more harissa if desired.


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