DALLAS — Texas repeated this past weekend as winner of the second annual Red River BBQ Shootout, topping Oklahoma pitmaster Russ Garrett of Coach's Restaurant in Bricktown.
The Oklahoma champion put his best foot forward, but it wasn't enough to win over the crowd vote and beat returning champion Cliff Payne from Cousin's Barbecue of Fort Worth, Texas.
Also for the second year in a row, the result of the barbecue competition was in stark contrast to the outcome of the football game that's responsible for the large downtown crowds.
The event, hosted by DRG Concepts and Downtown Dallas Inc., was Thursday and Friday night at the Main Street Garden in downtown Dallas. In the shoot-out, four pitmasters from Oklahoma and four pitmasters from Texas competed to settle who could cook the best barbecued spare ribs.
Judges took part in a blind taste test to determine an Oklahoma champion and Texas champion. The two champions then competed head-to-head the following day; the winner determined by a public vote.
The public, which also tasted the ribs blind, clearly had a different view than the judges. Not only did Garrett score the highest total of all the judges, which were mostly from Texas, but no one else's ribs came close in point totals.
In addition, Oklahoma pitmasters had three of the top four highest scores in the judges' taste test.
Garrett's ribs were a deep, rich Oklahoma red, created with a combination of smoke, dry rub seasoning, and a sweet glaze. The rib was incredibly juicy. The meat was tender enough to pull away from the bone with ease but had enough bite to know it was a spare rib.
Garrett said the key to creating that texture, in addition to time and temperature, is to push the ribs together like an accordion in the smoker. This keeps the meat plump and the bones close together so the ribs don't dry out.