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Meat Lovers Weekend

June 14, 2011

It wasn’t my intention to write my first real post about meat- I was actually planning on dedicating this time and space to the joys of my beloved food processor.  It also wasn’t my intention to eat what I estimate to be about 5 pounds of straight meat this weekend.  But hey, you can’t plan everything. It all started when my good friends Jake Lohman and Rondell Cabanas (again I have used aliases to protect identities and because it’s really fun to make them up), my boyfriend (who I will from here on out refer to as The Great Criticizer- as that is his nature), and I decided to go to Ribfest.  From there the weekend turned carnivorous and didn’t look back. 

My love for ribs runs deep.  I don’t come from a big cooking family but I do remember my grandfather in our back yard cooking up our traditional family ribs.  In fact, we even had ribs for Thanksgiving one year (much to the chagrin of the Great Criticizer who insists that anything besides turkey on Thanksgiving is blasphemy). Suffice it to say I was pretty pumped about Ribfest. 

 My basic thought on what makes a good rib is this:  balance.  The perfect rib is somewhere between tender and chewy, saucy and smoky, smothered and simple. A number of participants played with this notion at this year’s Ribfest and overall I was impressed with the showings.  Some standouts:

Ms. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro: I can only describe these ribs as meat candy.  They were smothered, and I mean smothered, in sauce.  They fell off the bone.  They melted in the mouth.  But, as the 4 of us were enjoying our half slab behind their booth we caught a glimpse of a huge tub of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce.  Could it be?  Were they winning us over with store bought BBQ sauce?  Is this against the rules of Ribfest? My mind wanted to scream out in protest- but my mouth said, shut it, these ribs are freakin’ fantastic.  In the end, these sauce-tastic ribs were good yet my craving for the perfectly balanced rib continued.

Rub BBQ Company: In opposition to the sauciness of the Irish Bistro, these ribs were damn near sauce-less, relying on their namesake, the rub, to carry them through.  This was a nice follow up to saucy Irish Bistro and I give Rub props on going au naturale, but like my feelings for the Bistro ribs, I was still missing that perfect balance I had been searching for.  

Pitchfork: Equal parts smoky and saucy, these Ribfest 2009 winners came out swinging with a solid contender once again.  Incidentally, if you like both ribs and trivia and you live in the greater Chicago area (here comes the shameless plug) head out to trivia at Pitchfork on Wednesday nights at 8pm with Chicago Trivia Guys.

Ok these are not ribs.  They are maple bacon donut holes. WHAT!? Maple? Bacon? Donut? Yes, my friends, the mix of savory bacon and sweet maple in an adorable, bite-sized donut hole really topped off the day.

 Since Jake, Rondell, and the GC and I decided to get a half slab from each place and share we ended up trying 7 different ribs from 7 different places and I think Pitchfork, the Fireplace Inn, and the Piggery all hit the nail on the head.  But then again, I think I slipped into a meat coma around half slab #4 so it was all a blur from there.  Tune in next time to hear the wrap up of my meat lovers’ weekend:  chicken wings Korean style, homemade pork shoulder sandwiches paired with a lovely ass-beating of the Miami Heat, and a recipe for a summer favorite of mine- pulled chicken sandwiches.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. 1/2 of Team Butter de la Sloan permalink
    June 14, 2011 11:44 am

    Mmmm. Now I want ribs! (And maple bacon donut holes!) Ms Butter and I were supposed to go to ribfest and got distracted by errands. We’ll have to make up for it by hitting up the one in Naperville I think. I hear it’s 4-5 times the size of the one in Chicago… AND they’re going to have REO Speedwagon and Styx.

  2. Dude's Rights!!!!!! permalink
    June 14, 2011 12:52 pm

    I find this blog oppresive to men, and boys. Don’t perpetuate the hate.

  3. Ann permalink
    June 14, 2011 1:19 pm

    mmmm…blog made me hungry!!!

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