See all the shots of Championship Winning BBQ Ribs HERE
People pay over $800 to study competition barbecue with the best. By the best we refer to those who win the most amounts of “Grand Champion” title. Different people have different core competencies – Melissa Cookston and Myron Mixon dominate in Whole Hog, Chris Lilly famously owns the Shoulder Category and in last year’s “Super Bowl of Swine” Memphis in May competition – Lonnie Smith was the Rib cooking champion. And he did it again at this year’s Big Pig Jig. And I was there to take in all the tricks of the trade – the rub, the timing, the sauce. Not a bad deal huh?
I myself don’t particularly care about BBQ secrets, in fact I’ve found a bunch of people just free give me their secrets due to my indifference towards them. I did however travel all the way from New York City to the middle of NOWHERE in Georgia, so if you want these rib secrets, it’ll cost you a nice steak dinner. Hey still cheaper than what Myron Mixon will charge you.
Were they good? Oh they were beat the pants off over 100 other competitors good!
I will offer some reflections on what I found in these World Championship winning ribs.
- The ribs need a savory rub. Most people pack on the sugar for competition and you need to in order to win. But what made these ribs stand out was the fact that we blasted her with a solid base of sodium and put on the sweetness last. Otherwise you’re just eating candied pork, and that’s disgusting.
- Ribs are all about timing. You need to have your plan of attack all mapped out. When the cooker gets heated, when the ribs go on, when you foil, when to glaze. Whole Hog is the most logistically challenging due to its size. Shoulder is the most forgiving.
- Memphis Barbecue Network allows either baby backs or spares but judges seem to prefer baby backs. This is a royal pain in the posterior when procuring your raw product. You want a rack as EVEN as possible. If you look at most baby backs, they’re very tapered which leads to an ugly turn in box. You need to make good buddies with your butcher to secure very parallel ribs. I think as a whole, serious competitors are more guarded about their pork supplier than they are their recipes.
- We cooked with hickory wood and I think that makes a difference. There are lots of competitors using milder woods. In competition everything is intensified so you need a brawny flavored smoke. Remember you’re going to jam pack this rib with flavor before the smoke and then glaze it with enough sugar to give a fruit fly cavities, that smoke needs to cut through it all.
Here are some more shots of our Memphis May 2011 and Big Pig Jig 2012 winning ribs. Be sure to click on the top link to see more food porn!