Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pork Rib Taste Test

A Maine pond.

We normally have a dock opening party earlier in May but we were out of town and so we had it a little late. Also, for my May BBQ day, I cooked a slab of ribs for friends Ron and Nancy and he reported they were the best I’d done. Since I’m a big fan of taste tests, we decided to combine everything and invite some friends over for a rib tasting at the dock as the season opener.

For the test, I cooked four slabs of similar weight, similar aged, from-the-freezer, loin back ribs at 230* for 6 hours. I rotated them within the smoker to provide equal heat and smoke exposure. The four slabs were treated as follows:

Slab 1 – My pork rub then glazed with Tennessee River BBQ sauce (my usual process)
Slab 2 – My pork rub then glazed with Pioneer Woman’s BBQ sauce
Slab 3 – Head Country Championship Seasoning then glazed with Pioneer Woman’s BBQ sauce
Slab 4 – My pork rub then glazed with Gates Classic Original BBQ Sauce

The glaze was brushed on both sides of the slab at the 5½ hour mark, then again to the top side only when removed from the smoker (except Slab 4, which got a single, top side coat of Gates just before slicing, so it had about 1/3 the sauce of the others). They were then wrapped in foil and placed in a cooler until supper time (about an hour and a half).

At serving time, I sliced the slabs into individual ribs so each person could have one of each.  I put an A, B, C, D on each plate so the tasters could keep them organized and the plates of ribs were also labeled.  I asks them to sample a bite or two from each rib and rank them before proceeding with the rest of the meal.  Here is rib plate "A" and my plate.

Here are the somewhat surprising results and nearly everyone commented they were all very good, so the number difference doesn't mean last place was bad, just the others were preferred. When I tasted, I had no trouble deciding my number 4, but a lot of trouble separating 1, 2, & 3.

BBQ Rib Taste Test - 5/11

RATE RIBS 1 - 4 WITH 1 BEING BEST (lowest total is best)

                Rib A  Rib B  Rib C  Rib D

TOTAL     33       37       19        21

The winner was the same one I'd cooked for Ron and Nancy on the May BBQ day - I'll pay careful attention to their opinions from now on.   Note there was a big difference between the first two and the second two, which surprised me since B & C had the same sauce on them - shows the importance of the rub and sauce working together.  Another surprise was that what I'd been cooking, and thought was really good, came in last - even from me.  I didn't show the individual results, but friend Joe was the only one who matched up with the final groups rankings - I'd better pay attention to his opinion too. 

So I guess I'll be placing an order for the Head Country rub and making a bigger batch of Pioneer Woman's sauce, but with a little more heat.

The remainder of the meal included some very cheesy mac & cheese (a favorite recipe for a crowd), regular and Mexican cornbread, blue cheese slaw (more later on this) and several delicious desserts brought by the guests.  Here's a few more shots of food and folks taken by guest photoghapher Laurie.

Check out Sweetie Pie (seated white dog) while I sliced the ribs - her Mama didn't raise no dummy.

While in Zeb's in North Conway, NH, my one puchase was this Redneck Wine Glass which I bought to be able to serve Yankee import friend Laurie - be sure to blow it up.

It also includes a lid and ring and no self respecting Southern household should be without one or some.  We topped the evening off by sending everyone home with a pint of the maple syrup we brought home from New Hampshire.

I've tried to comment to many of your blogs, but for some reason when I have to select and enter Google as my profile, then sign in with Google, then publish my comment, it takes we back to the Google sign in and I'm in a do-loop.  Any help appreciated.  No problem for those I don't have to select a profile.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  Restaurante Italiano



  1. I sure miss BBQ - Rhett

  2. Great party Larry! Having that dock for a party location is just amazing. I better take a look at Pioneer Woman's bbq sauce. I have such a good recipe, I'll be interested in seeing what is so good. I l-0-v-e love that wine glass. I've had trouble commenting with Google too. Many times I've just given up. I'm blaming Al queda. (sp?)

  3. Looks like a great meal and congrats on getting your dock opened for the summer.

    I've had several people complain about Blogger problems. I haven't had any problems myself YET.

  4. First of all, I am so glad I am not the only one having a problem commenting on blogs... my profile is doing the same thing - UGH BLOGGER!

    I think this idea is such a great one... how fun to do the taste test with a bunch of friends. I also love the redneck wine glass.

  5. Sure wish I could be a taste tester! As far as the commenting, who knows! Odd things have been happening for weeks, including with my internet service provider! Little gremlins.

  6. Larry... You and Bev sure know how to throw a nice feed and dock party. Laurie and I had a great time! Great ribs, mac 'n cheese and corn bread... That Maple Syrup is killer good!! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave & Laurie

  7. Pam told me in her comment today that she had the same blogger comment issue yesterday. They must be stupid this week.

    Did it really matter that your dock opening party was late? A party is a party, after all! And Sweetie Pie was a cute host's assistant!

  8. I thought this post would be anticlimatic since you and I talked about all of this at the BBQ class last weekend. But I still enjoyed the detail, that's just the BBQ geek in me.

  9. You sure know how to party! I love tha theater photo and all the party shots. That wine glass is a riot!

  10. You sure know how to party! I love tha theater photo and all the party shots. That wine glass is a riot!

  11. That header photo ... Not the auto corrected gibberish! :-)


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