“Grip it and lick it!”
*Piggly Wiggly Klaxon Alert*
Vegetarians, this is a blog post you will definitely want to avoid!
Sampler ribs or slab of ribs, pulled pork sandwich or a full pork plate with cowboy beans, it was a porkfest and we ready to eat some BBQ.
Our rib-loving Californian friends Big Willy and Margarita drinking Susan had taken us to visit the lip smacking, meat eating, saucy finger extravaganza that is the ‘Best In the West Nugget Rib Cook Off’
This annual event is held in Sparks, Nevada and takes place every year in September over the Labor Day weekend. (American holiday – American spelling..)
It’s a gigantic BBQ culinary event, with a side of craft stalls, a good portion of carnival rides and plenty of good ol’ American blues, rock and country music to get your piggy butt jiggly.
The barbecue belt that runs through Southern America, has a rich smoky history and it’s own set of traditions for each state. In days gone by, pigs were a cheap option for a low maintenance set of livestock. The tougher cuts of meat however then required slower methods of cooking to provide tender platters that would fall off the bone – hey presto! BBQ was born. Nowadays pigs are fed well and are much fatter, but the southern style of cooking is just as popular and rivalry to produce the best barbecue is hotly contested.
Local Sparks casino the ‘Nugget’ sponsors the event where 24 bbq rib stalls from all over America compete for a total cash purse of $14,500.
These talented rib cookers are total BBQ masters of grill. Each team have their own recipe for perfecting the tastiest rib. They will carefully choose the type of wood to smoke the racks of rib overnight, some teams prefer to add a dry rub of spices into their pork before grilling over the flames and some slather shiny BBQ sauces that vary from sweet, mild, hot to pyro hot when the rib rack is on the grill. It’s scorching labour intensive work but each team wants supremacy to win the coveted title of ‘Best in the West’.
Nugget officials estimated that more than half a million people visited during the six-day event, eating about 200,500lbs of ribs. That’s a lot of pig!!
Willy and Susan’s tried and tested annual method for the ‘cook off’ is to sample a couple of ribs from 3 stalls each day and then vote for their favourite at the end of the 3 days we visited. Their top 5 choices this year were:
Just North of Memphis
Back Forty Texas BBQ
Porky n Beans
I’m not that keen on eating bone in meat, but I really enjoyed sampling succulent pulled pork from Texas Outlaws and Porky n Beans. Mr E voted for Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ ribs as his overall favourite, but the pyro sauce proved just too darn hot for his tastes.
We even saw rib eating veterans wearing blue medical gloves, while tucking into huge piles of ribs with extra hot sauces on the side, that would be lip tingling for sure!
An esteemed panel of judges get to savour the ribs from all the 24 teams to award the overall winners and prizes.
Congratulations to the 2015 winners:
1st – Bone Daddy’s BBQ they also scooped the crowd voting award of Peoples Choice.
2nd – Famous Daves BBQ
3rd – Uncle Bub’s
4th – Back Forty Texas BBQ
5th – Texas Outlaws BBQ
Best Sauce was awarded to the Aussom Aussie team for their popular fruity based sauce.
During our visit to the Rib Cook Off, we also got to watch in open mouthed horror but with gobsmacking hilarity something we had never seen before and something we probably won’t want to see again…it was the 10th annual ‘Nugget World Rib-Eating Championship’ with $5000 up for grabs to the most competent consumers.
You might have seen similar events on TV, where the most unlikely contenders eat as much food as possible in a set amount of time or a ‘who can eat the most’ capacity based eating event. Contender Miki Sudo, with her blond hair swept up is ranked no 3 after eating 40 hotdogs in one such competition!
There is an actual world governing body for professional eating contests – the MLE!
The Major League Eating official MC, was quick witted tongue jockey Sam Barclay. He was quite the orator and showman, pure entertainment under a natty straw boater hat. He expertly whipped the crowd into a frenzy introducing the contestants to this ‘Mount Sinai of mastication’!!
Joey “Jaws” Chestnut the reigning 8 year rib eating champion was beaten by the MLE’s No.1 ranked best competitive eater Matt “Megatoad” Stonie. This teeny tiny food athlete hardly came up for air eating 10.5lbs of ribs in 12 minutes. You could see the technical prowess as they stripped meat from the bone, swallowed and just kept on scoffing. For us the first 6 minutes were full of shock and amusement, but then the remaining 6 minutes really did turn your stomach as the contestants greasy faces just kept on chomping…
We decided after applauding the winners, we would not be eating ribs that evening for dinner!