Rib Burn Off vendors agree: It takes more than just good sauce
Rib vendors say they take their profession seriously but will disclose the secret behind good ribs as long as you don’t ask about the ingredients in their sauces.
“That’s the one thing you protect,” said Joe Henderson, 56, of Mansfield, owner of Hog Wild BBQ, one of several vendors in competition at this weekend’s 26th annual Mahoning Valley Rib Burn Off in front of Eastwood Mall.
“Besides the sauce, it’s the wood in the smoker and the rub [seasoning],” said Henderson, who divulged that his rub contains paprika, garlic, onion and brown sugar. he said Hog Wild #3 Sauce, his personal favorite, is “sweet, a little spicy and tangy.”
“That’s confidential,” Henderson said.
Cliff Mortimer of Austintown, owner of Armadillo’s, agrees that delicious ribs require more than a good sauce.
“Barbecue is all about the curing process, and we use a hickory wood cure,” said Mortimer, 43, who also is one of the organizers of this year’s Rib Burn Off. he listed the other essentials as the quality of meat, “the right blend of spices, proper cooking temperature and a good blend of hardwood.”
Mortimer, who also owns Barry Dyngle’s Pub in Austintown, said the best sauce should be “sweet, tangy and only a little bit spicy,” which is how he describes Armadillo’s Original BBQ Sauce that will be entered in the competition later today.
Todd Harris, 42, owner of Pigfoot, agrees with his competitors about the necessary ingredients but thinks he has one of the more unique sauces in the competition: Applelicious, which has a hint of apples in a sweet sauce. his brand was featured in a national women’s magazine, and the Wadsworth resident said the response to Applelicious at the Rib Burn Off has been very favorable.
“It’s a little unusual,” Harris said.
Fred Heberling with Mojo’s, based in Diamond, said rib success is dependent on the grade of ribs that vendors buy.
“Better quality means less fat,” said Heberling, of Kent, one of the younger vendors at 24.
Mojo’s featured sauce is Hickory Licken’, but Heberling’s favorite is Freak N Hot, which he said is not as overly spicy as it sounds.
“I think there is one rule for best ribs and sauce, and that is to make them different than anyone else,” Heberling said.
All four vendors said they have been pleased with the turnout and believe the crowds have increased because the admission price was lowered from $7 last year to $3 this year. The Rib Burn Off concludes tonight.
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