Trim away excess fat from ribs. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Rub spice mix all over the ribs. Place the ribs in two 10 x 15 inch roasting pans, piling two racks of ribs per pan. Cover, and refrigerate for 8 or more hours.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Bake uncovered for 3-4 hours, or until the ribs are tender and nearly falling apart. For the barbeque sauce, take 4-5 tablespoons of drippings from the roasting pans and place in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onion in pan drippings until lightly browned. Stir in ketchup, and heat for 3 to 4 more minutes, stirring constantly. Next, mix in water and brown sugar, and season to taste with cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, adding water if it gets too thick.
Preheat grill for low heat. When grill is ready, add the soaked wood chips to the coals or to the smoker box of a gas grill. Place ribs on the grill but do not overcrowd. Cook for 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Baste ribs with sauce during the last 10 minutes of grilling only.
Appeared in print 9/16/09