I’ve been an unabashed meat eater for years now, after a brief faux-vegetarian stint in high school. Sometimes this aspect of my personality is more pronounced than others—I certainly am not someone who demands meat at every meal. But it was especially evident yesterday, when Jason, my friend Barri, and I traveled to North Jersey to attend my aunt and uncle’s annual Ribfest, which also features a pie competition!
Three years ago is the last time I went—and if I’m correct, maybe the last time it occurred. That year, I only made a pie, to enter in the friendly competition. Sadly, only three people made and brought ribs, so the contest for the meat wasn’t all that exciting.
This year, though, the rules were clear: bring something to eat or you can’t come. The wording was strong, and I suspect many of us feared we’d actually be turned away at the door if we didn’t come bearing pork. As a result, despite the pouring rain, there were more than 20 entries in the rib competition. That’s a whole lot of ribs.
I’d always been intimidated at the thought of making ribs—not only am I limited to oven cooking, I for some reason had it in my head that they were a tricky beast. I was wrong. They are super easy—put spices on, stick ’em in the oven, and you’re basically done. My recipe involved a spice rub and a sauce, and both were damn tasty.
Only problem once we got to the competition, though, was that I forgot to put my extra sauce on, and the ribs weren’t especially warm. The winners were all heavily sauced, and some were even served in a slow cooker. (I’m making notes for next year.)
The pie competition this year was also fierce; 19 pies vied for the title. Mine should have won on looks alone.
But my peaches were too tart, and a sentimental favorite stole the win. (But my cream cheese crust was flaky and perfect—try it with your favorite filling!) Next year, I’m making classic apple and not fussing around with fancy flavors or elaborate spices. Give the people what they want, that’s my new mantra!
I’m definitely already thinking about next year . . .