North of the Mason-Dixon Line, they might tell you it’s okay to bake ribs. South of it, a man could get shot for even uttering those words in his sleep. There is no baking in barbecue—not by definition, not by practice and not by tradition. No matter what kind of smoke-box contraption stores try to sell you or how much liquid smoke or chipotle powder you add to your rub, it will never give you the full-throttle flavor of slow-cooking meat over hardwood. What you will get is gray meat, no pink in sight, that may fall off the bone but won’t taste like much. So when you’re skimming these pages looking for tried-and-true Chicago haunts like Twin Anchors or Gale Street Inn and coming up short, that’s not because we’re haters (in fact, we’d give those classic baked rib joints an A for character and longevity), but because we’re barbecue fans, and we’d like to think you are, too.