Monday, September 7, 2009

Ribfest '09 - Hot and Smoky Wins the Race

This weekend I attended a massive bbq ribfest at our friend Adam's house. Ribfest is an annual occurrence and has become quite the big deal with his family and friends. With steep competition between five types of ribs--both wet and dry rubbed--everyone brought their best game forward. From slow roasted meat that fell off the bone to Coca-Cola reduced sauce, the techniques used were not only inventive, they produced finger-lickin' goodness that made all competitors winners.

Rib-e-lickin' Good - There were five types of ribs up for grabs that produced five very distinct and excellent flavors. Out of these, three stood out to me--Tom's, Adam's and Uncle Bobby's.

Tom's (pictured above in the green bowl) were the spiciest, using chipotle-bourbon barbecue sauce that Tom perfected over the years. The flavors hit your palate hard upon contact and left you with a pleasing smoky aftertaste. The bourbon and a hint of honey produced nice sweetness and stickiness, making this sauce and the ribs a home run.

Adam's ribs also used a wet sauce but the overall effect was different than Tom's. The outside looked more charred, and I liked that there were bits of onions in the sauce--it had a nice hint of sweetness from a Coca-Cola reduction. I liked the creativity in his approach, using everyday ingredients to produce something exceptional.

Unlike Tom's and Adam's wet ribs, Uncle Bobby's (pictured above on the cookie sheet) were dry rubbed. I loved the texture of the meat, which was firmer that the previous two. These were the most traditional, bbq-style ribs with simple seasoning that wasn't too spicy. Not sure about all the different spices he used, but the ribs reminded me of what we usually get at Blue Smoke--always a good sign.

The Fixins - There were plenty of other yummies to eat alongside the ribs. My favorites included Stephanie's cornbread with bits of corn kernels, red peppers and jalapenos. It was super moist and the perfect vehicle for mopping up all that delicious bbq sauce.

I also enjoyed her crunchy cole-slaw, which was finished with an oil and vinegar dressing, instead of heavy mayonnaise. This dish incorporated a few crunchy surprises such as ramen noodles, sliced almonds and bits of scallions.

Randi's five-cheese mac and cheese was pure indulgence with creamy texture and a crunchy breadcrumb topping. It reminded me of Emeril's recipe that I often make for our annual Superbowl party.

For the Sweet Tooth - Once again the queen of desserts, Randi won everyone over with her peach cobbler with maple cream sauce. The peaches she used were organic and therefore had wonderful, fresh flavor, while the maple dressing made it rich without being too sweet. I loved the crunchy brown sugar bits on top, which gave this dessert another element of indulgence.

Just so I don't keep you in suspense, I'll let you know that Tom was the official winner of Ribfest 2009, but as I mentioned, everyone won in my book. The display of competitiveness and cookery was stupendous and I hope to come back next year to take part in more rib debauchery. Until Ribfest 2010!

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