Two couples, two racks of ribs, one smoker and one gorgeous day off. Sounds like the makings for the Labor Day 2011 Rib Smackdown. Neighbor D offered Chris one rack of ribs and a challenge: season, rub, marinate, do whatever you want to your ribs, but both racks get smoked together, over pecan wood chips, and the wives (us lucky gals!) will judge whose ribs are the tastiest.
While the ribs sat in the smoker all afternoon, we prepared a pitcher of Rummin' Teas and a few side dishes. We started with some chips and salsa. We tossed a bunch of red and yellow potatoes in Crisco's new Pure Olive Oil (a sample of which we received through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program) and added plenty of chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Then we placed these on the grill in a grilling basket; in 40 minutes, they were perfect - crisp on the outside, soft on the inside.
We steamed a pound of Louisiana Gulf Shrimp in Blue Crab Bay Co. Steaming Spices (a gift from D and J's many travels) to add a little "surf" to our "turf." A few ears of corn roasted on the grill for good measure. And then the ribs were done and it was time to eat.
Chris had rubbed his rack in a mixture of red sea salt, chipotle pepper and Mexican chocolate, then marinated them in Red Stag Bourbon overnight. These had an intriguing mix of sweet and spicy flavors, from cherry to chocolate to salt to pepper. Very interesting indeed.
Both ribs were tender, falling off the bone and had an sweet smoky flavor from the pecan wood chips. How could we possibly pick one over the other? We had to call in a reinforcement judge - neighbor R who is a long-standing and enthusiastic taste-tester around these parts. He, too, was undecided. Both were just too good. The wives awarded both ribs first place. Let's hear it for the boys and a delicious holiday spent with good friends. It doesn't get much better than this.