Saturday, July 6, 2013

Getting Sauced at Ribfest VIII

Ribfest, one of my favorite summer food competitions graced us again this weekend, and it was truly better than ever.  Looking forward to this awesome day each year, now in its eighth year, I'm always amazed at how much the planning committee (aka The Meyers' family and friends) does to make this day truly special for the competitors and the guests.  
From the inventive signs (see above) to the dedicated pit masters' corner, to the lovely judging area and even a bigger than life slip-and-slide, it was a memorable day, filled with tons of outstanding food and fantastic people.

The Ribs:
The ribs were the star of the show, as always, and this year once again, there were 9 fierce competitors.  Being a judge at Ribfest for the third year now, it was wonderful to get special treatment, as each of the competitors approached the judging table and gave a brief presentation of their dish and its ingredients.  I loved hearing about the unique ingredients used in each dish and the passion that each pit master showed when presenting their end product.  While all ribs were fantastic, my stand-outs included:

Adam's Jamaican Jerk Ribs - Last year's Ribfest winner, Adam always pulls out all the stops for his ribs.  He loves a Jamaican style rib and has experimented with this type of flavor profile before.  I liked seeing his version this year, which was presented beautifully, alongside roasted habanero peppers, which he actually lit up, as part of his dramatic presentation.  

The ribs had nice caramelization, which was on the sweet side, and on the inside, the meat was tender and flavorful - giving you a nice kick of heat from the habanero.  As is traditionally Adam's style, he goes all out on spice, and these ribs were certainly not for the faint of heart.

Tom's Baby Backs - I always look forward to Tom's ribs, as he puts a lot of thought into them and starts his glazes and rubs even a week in advance.  His dedication is impressive and he goes all out to source really good quality meat from Washington D.C.'s Eastern Market.  

Tom uses a hybrid approach in his rib preparation, where he smokes the ribs for 4 hours, giving them that nice charred flavor, and then sous vide's them for another 36 hours for that tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture.  They were absolutely perfect in my eyes, and my fellow judges agreed, nearly licking the bones clean.

Dave's Tequila Glazed Ribs - A new competitor this year, Dave really impressed us with his tequila glazed ribs.  For someone who's only made ribs about one other time in his life, he used excellent technique, which produced a memorable, fall-off-the-bone meaty snack.

Using a similar mix of ingredients that he also uses for his famous beef chilly, Dave's ribs exemplified a rich flavor profile, which was milder on spice.  It's almost as if he turned his famous chili into ribs, which we all agreed was a great idea.

The Sides and Desserts:
Besides all the ribs, we also sampled a bevy of sides and desserts, which put us over the edge - but we had to sample it all to do the competition justice.  I loved all the creativity that was showcased, including a dish of baked salami, a deconstructed stuffed potato with kale, a bloody Mary salad and even some healthy options such as a jicama and watermelon salad.

The desserts were also impressive, with a few that stole the show such as the "crack pie" with a crunchy oatmeal, caramel crust; a tender and saucy apple cake, as well as the classic homemade mandel bread you see above that's nostalgic for me.

The Winners:
Given the tremendous effort put forth from everyone involved in Ribfest, there could only be one rib master, one sides shogun and one dessert deacon.  So without further ado, here are the champions of the Ribfest VIII #getsauced competition:

Rib Master - Tom Parker with his 36 hour sous vide baby back ribs
Sides Shogun - The Silverman brothers with their deconstructed stuffed potatoes
Dessert Deacon - Jamie and John with their bodacious "crack pie"

A huge thanks goes out to our gracious hosts, Ellyn & Dave Meyers and families for putting on yet another unforgettable shin-dig.  Long live the rib - #getsauced ya'll!

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