The urge to win a food competition can be all-consuming. My competitive streak recently reared its ugly head when I suggested (read: insisted without hesitation) that I could make better ribs than my husband, JMac. You see, since we moved to this well equipped kitchen with ample butcher block island and sleek walnut cabinetry he has become quite the gourmand. Yesterday it was cheddar french toast bacon boats with peach raspberry compote complimented with walnuts and whipped cream. Yeah. I’m lucky. This from a guy who hadn’t tried a tomato until his late 30’s.
I’m also jealous of his just ‘get up and do it’ attitude, not afraid of making a mess and the inevitable clean up. So I figured I needed a quick win. He’d clean the kitchen later I’m sure.
In my first home I mastered tender ribs on my first go. It was easy. Just go slowly. Many years later I meet this man who was an instant appreciative test bed for all culinary creations. I introduced him to buffalo mozzarella and fine dining. The ingredients were present for a foodie to be born.
His idea of good ribs was something akin to: ‘If there is meat and there is sauce I could gnaw all day long’. His current idea of good ribs is something like: ‘Iron chef will be shamed by my masterpiece.’
The competition day looked something like this:
7am – I’m awoken by pots clanging in the kitchen followed by the acid smell of vinegar with a hint sweet on the stove.
8am – I’m throwing him off by not doing anything at all. The mental warfare has begun. I am also mercilessly heckling his hideous yellow sauce on the stove. The tweets and Facebook statuses are being updated by both parties. I chortle when my sister tells him that the judges, my own parents, do not like spicy food. His sauce is peppered with tons of chili pepper flakes.
9am – I am reminded that we have no working oven. I reformulate my plan and reaffirm in my mind that tenderness is the number one criteria on which we will be judged.
10am – I do a double take as he stuffs all his ribs into a crock pot sans sauce. Laugh in JMac’s face. Berate him on Twitter.
11am – I feel slightly guilty but I am determined to win over the judges with fall off the bone ribs and a familiar taste. Call my sister for last minute rib advice. Rub ribs in secret mix of seasonings. I run out for my secret weapon. Bottled sauce. Ye olde standby: Diana Sauce.
12pm – Hide bottled sauce in my office. Decant into bowl and emerge with a paintbrush and a grin. Take some Twitter gloating from an overconfident JMac. Generously offer JMac an extra paintbrush for basting.
1pm – We start banning each other from the kitchen in shifts to leave some mystery as to the prep work taking place. I did NOT remove the membrane from the back of my ribs. I put my ribs on the BBQ in a big corning ware dish, lid on and tin foiled for their 3 hours of cooking.
All I remember is that my ribs looked fantastic on the BBQ. His did not.
2pm – I am having a beer but we are both eyeing the grill, waiting for the other half to start the saucing.
3pm – Still waiting
4pm – Jockeying for position at the grill my mother laughed out loud at our smack down.
The rest is really a blur saucy faces.
Turns out he spent the extra buck for a specialty bottled sauce.