In early January, the Austin Chronicle hosted its first Invitational BBQ Beef Rib Smackdown. The publication noted that the competition portion of the event wasn’t as important as learning about Austin’s barbecue beef ribs scene. The smackdown took place on Jan 5. at the Palm Door and included tasty entries from area eateries including Blue OX BBQ, Freedmen’s, Kerlin BBQ, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew, and many others.
If you are enrolled in any Austin culinary art courses, you may be well-versed in what makes good Texas barbecue. According to the Austin Chronicle, here were a few of the components of successful barbecue that the judges considered when trying the food:
Sugar cookies – This refers to whether or not there are any sweet, yet crunchy pieces of caramelized fat on the surface of the meat, which is very desirable if present.
Watermelon bite – Here is another term from the contest that describes if the meat pulls off easily from the bone.
Aroma – The panel of judges also wanted the food to have a distinctive smell of hardwood and caramelized sugars coming from the ribs.
Overall flavor – Of course, the taste factor is extremely important. So, the judges based their final decision on whether or not the ribs had the complete package of smoky and sweet notes.
Many of the ribs came close to winning at the end, but a few did stand out. Pitmaster Tom Micklethwait of Micklethwait Craft Meats took first place, followed by John Lewis of La Barbecue. Lastly, Lance Kirkpatrick of Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew received the third place honor. The Chronicle noted that the pit bosses are all looking forward to next year’s competition.