Friday, October 7, 2011
Red River BBQ Shootout will be Leo’s of Oklahoma versus Cousin’s of Fort Worth
Two finalists will compete at Main Street Garden on Friday afternoon.
DALLAS As a prelude to Saturday's Red River Rivalry game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, DRG (Dallas Chop House, Dallas Fish Market and Wild Salsa) teamed up with Downtown Dallas, Inc. to host the inaugural Red River BBQ Shootout at Main Street Garden, a contest between seven BBQ places -- three from Oklahoma, four from Texas -- who competed for "best ribs."
On Thursday, a panel of judges including Krista Nightingale from D Magazine, Cathy Barber from the Dallas Morning News, Robert Wilonsky from the Dallas Observer, Dave Cathey from the Oklahoman, and myself culled through the seven entries to determine the two finalists who would compete on Friday for the "People's Choice."
The seven competitors set up their vans on the grounds of Main Street Garden, where early planners had already set up tables and chairs in anticipation of Friday's events. Downtown residents and their dogs clustered in a corner, their customary playground overwhelmed. The actual judging took place at the Dallas Chop House, where the judges were served more ribs than even the BBQ Snob could eat. The judging was blind, with entries numbered 1 through 7.
One was a homey version with lots of fat. Another was extremely tender, coming off the bone too readily for some of the judges. One had a barbecue sauce that most of the judges found too sharp, while another's sauce had a pumpkin-pie-spice flavor that no one but me liked. One had a glaze so sweet that a judge called it dessert.
The two finalists were Leo's from Oklahoma City and Cousin's from Fort Worth. Before the judges began, Cousin's pitmaster could be seen fretting about the doneness of his ribs; he'd finished them promptly by 7:30 p.m. and then learned his entry wasn't going to be reviewed until later. It wasn't a problem, as his ribs stood out, with a deeply smoky flavor and beautiful darkened exterior, and his house-made pickles were spicy hot.
Leo's, whose truck had a mural with an image of Guy Fieri, served ribs that had an appealingly rustic quality, with a lively spice rub and shaggy edges on the meat. When the announcement of the finalists was made, Leo's pitmaster smiled and proclaimed, "They were made with love."
Meanwhile, I have a massive meat hangover.
The Red River BBQ Shootout party begins at 5 p.m. Friday with live music and an announcement of the winner at 8:30 p.m. by Mayor Mike Rawlings.
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