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At Tennessee Jed's in Wantagh, Kevin Schneider serves
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At Tennessee Jed's in Wantagh, Kevin Schneider serves barbeque to the Cooney family -- 4-year old Camryn, mother Allison, 10-year old Paul, Jr., 7-year old Meagan, and father Paul, whose hand is on the cornbread. (2008)(Credit: Newsday/Ari Mintz)

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Going hog wild for LI ribs

Give us ribs. Meaty, smoky, tender pork ribs. Make them with a dry rub or slather them with secret sauce. Then throw down some extra napkins and go away. It's not a pretty sight to see us drenched in BBQ drippings. But we don't care. We love the kind of magic that happens when meat meets wood smoke. "It's all about the balance of the seasoning, the tenderness of a good piece of properly smoked meat," said Al Horowitz, owner of two Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joints, in Bay Shore and Massapequa Park. But all pigs are not created equal, Horowitz said. Fat content can vary from one rack to the next. So, to keep those ribs reliable, Horowitz has racks checked for tenderness and moistness by gloved crew members, who open and touch them straight out of the smoker. Who needs knives and forks? "People just like to eat with their hands," said Dan Monteforte, pitmaster at Swingbellys Beachside BBQ in Long Beach. "There's something soulful about that." Here are some favorite places to hunker down with a rack: