‘America’s Best BBQ: 100 Recipes from America’s Best Smokehouses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses, and Restaurants’
By Ardie A. Davis and Chef Paul Kirk (Andrews McMeel, $19.99)
Being a seventh-generation Southerner, it’s no secret that barbecue is embedded in my DNA. I have driven hundreds of miles out of my way to sample a good barbecue joint.
In recent years, I’ve sampled such delights as the spicy pit barbeque at The Dixie Pig in Blytheville, Ark., munched my way through a platter of smoked pig snoots at Smoki O’s in St. Louis, and tracked down a Texas gourmet treat, namely brisket nachos, a staple at Tom’s Ribs in San Antonio.
Ardie A. Davis, a certified judge in several barbecue events and cook-offs, and Chef Paul Kirk, barbecue guru and winner of more than 475 cooking awards, crisscrossed America in search of the best barbecue joints in the country. After investigating some 8,000 restaurants, they listed their top 100 picks in a fascinating new book.
In addition to recipes for meat, meat and more meat, there are dozens of delicious entries for starters, sides and even desserts. This is one of the more fun collections I’ve seen and it is being published just in time for the summer backyard cooking season.
Barbecue joints from 25 states are represented including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. The only Arizona restaurant to make the cut is Joe’s Real B-B-Q in Gilbert, renown for its Root Beer Cake.
Three recipes were tested from this collection. Coleslaw from Woody’s Bar-B-Que in Waldenburg, Ark., was a snap to prepare and required only three ingredients in addition to salt and pepper. Smoked hot links, a draw at Barbara Ann’s Bar-B-Que & Motel in Chicago, were spicy and served with baked beans.
My third and favorite tested recipe was for Glazed Barbecued Ribs, a specialty at North Main BBQ in Euless, Texas. The secret spice used is fairly easy to prepare and the finishing mop and glaze added just the right touch.
Glaze for Barbecued Ribs
Serves 6 to 8
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup seasoned salt
3 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 cup garlic salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne
2 slabs of St. Louis-style spareribs
Finishing Mop and Glaze
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 to 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
To make the secret spice, combine all of the ingredients in an airtight container and blend well. Store in a cool, dry place until ready for use or can be saved for up to six months.
Preheat your smoker to 230-250 degrees. Season the ribs all over to taste with secret spice. You can store the rest of the secret spice for up to six months. Place in your smoker and cook for 4 to 6 hours, or until done.
When the ribs are smoking, make the finishing mop and glaze. Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
In the last 10 minutes of cooking time, mop the ribs all over with the finishing sauce.