On Labor Day I joined my family and a lot of their friends for a barbecued rib cook-off, which was a follow-up to the bake-off I told you about at the end of July. From what I’d heard about the bake-off, I was expecting a dozen or so people at the barbecue. Boy, was I surprised.
There must have been at least 50 people there, many of whom took their barbecuing seriously and all of whom appeared to be having a great time. My granddaughter and her fiancé, hosts of the event, said they’d e-mailed invites to several people but hadn’t had any idea that so many would show up. Ha! They ended up with 14 entrants, which translated into 14 individuals or teams who’d dragged their families, their barbecue pits, and all of their ingredients and supplies to a backyard barbecue competition. Half a dozen of them had even set up tents.
I was impressed with the judging system. Each contestant or team was provided with a numbered styrofoam box to hold their final “product.” A table was set up in the carport to hold all the entries, and everyone had to put their closed box of ribs on that table at 5:00 p.m. sharp. Meanwhile, at the dining table inside the house, three judges waited with numbered score sheets as the entries were delivered to them a couple at a time. No one else was allowed near the judges’ table until all the goods had been sampled and the scoring was done.
The judges awarded points in each of three categories: presentation, texture, and taste. I can’t comment on presentation (the cooks were secretive as they arranged their offerings), but samples were passed around all afternoon and I can attest to a wonderful variety of tastes and textures.
All these cooks were working toward one prize, a simple but important one in this part of the country: braggin' rights. And the surprised and happy winners? My daughter and grandson, ably assisted by my son-in-law who manned the fire all afternoon. The ribs they cooked may have been the best I’ve ever tasted, but I need to try them a few more times real soon to be sure.
As a mildly interesting side note, the guy who came in second did his cooking on a $5,000 barbecue pit. He cooks competitively fairly often, usually for more serious prizes, and said this was the first time he’d lost. Our winners, on the other hand, cooked on a “rescue” barbecue pit they’d acquired when someone else was throwing it away. Go figure.
There were a couple of minor disappointments. My grandson had to leave early for football practice (yes, even on Labor Day, this is the South) and didn't learn that his team won until later that evening. Also, someone requested that next time it might be better to choose judges who have less integrity.
One more thing: My granddaughter and her fiancé may have fallen a little short in the rib-cooking department, but they certainly proved that their recipe for a good time is hard to beat. Lots of people were discussing what the challenge should be next time. Last I heard, it'll be gumbo.