Smoky Deliciousness

What a great Sunday for ribs at the Columbus Jazz & Rib Festival. Yesterday was rainy, but today was awesome. Best of all I got to meet Butch Lupinetti (pictured above), of Butch’s BBQ, who beat Bobby Flay in the BBQ Throwdown. As much as Butch was a character and genuine person on TV, he’s that way in person. Very nice and welcoming to everyone who stopped by to say hello.

So, out of the 22 barbecue stands I picked 4 to sample. They were the ones that had 3-bone samples to try. Gotta leave room for beer, y’know.

First up was Armadillos out of Youngstown, OH. I got their three rib special and they gave me five, now that’s a deal! The ribs were very tender and that thin membrane on the inside (back) of the ribs was crunchy and flavorful. They were the only ones that I could notice that membrane and that’s one of the parts I love most. The sauce was smoky and had a nice sweet tang, you could taste the brown sugar.

Next up was Willinghams of Annandale, MN. Their three rib sample offered exactly three ribs, but they were good sized and meaty. Unfortunately I think they cooked their ribs mostly on an open grill and not a smoker. The ribs were a little tough. The sauce had a nice balance of flavors and enough heat to linger afterwards.

Big Boned BBQ of Chatanooga, TN was my next choice. Their three rib sample yielded 4 ribs, nice! The ribs were very tender, but maybe they were covered to rest too long as there was no membrane left on the backside. I added their Original flavor sauce which had a very nice hickory and tomato flavor, not very spicy, but I opted not to try the habañero sauce.

Now I didn’t try Smokin’ Joe’s BBQ, the hometown choice, this time around as I had plenty at the big community festival. The line for Smokin’ Joe’s was the longest of all the stands and I know why. His ribs are freakin’ fantastic.

So finally I went to Butch’s BBQ, from Mt. Laurel, NJ, to see how he matched up. I got the requisite three rib sampler and received three ribs. I covered them with his signature mild sauce (which they needed to pay attention to because I barely got any out of the mostly empty container). I can see why Chef Flay chose to challenge Butch, but to challenge someone who has been grilling for as long as Butch was no contest. Butch’s ribs were super tender, crisp and flavorful. His sauce is very well balanced… no one note stood out on it’s own, it worked as one deep flavor.

If you made it downtown for this festival I’d love to hear your comments on the ribs you tried.


~ by JR Prospal on 26 July 2009.

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