Cooking

Rib Wars

A Texas pitmaster and a Kansas City BBQ king face off
Photo: Tasting Table
Barbecue Ribs

We know how to get chefs riled up: Ask them if their city makes the best burger, taco, burrito . . . anything, really.

Want to get punched in the face in Houston? Say something the least bit disparaging about Texas ribs. Same goes for Kansas City, where the sweet and tangy BBQ sauce runs through the locals' veins.

Here, two chefs face off on whose hometown makes the best ribs.

"Texas ribs are not slathered in sauce. We use salt, pepper and a little dry rub consisting of paprika, sugar and chipotle powder, so we have a touch of sweet and a little heat. Texans like to taste the pork flavor—not the sauce." —Ronnie Killen, owner/pitmaster, Killen's Barbeque, Pearland, Texas

"While Texas has some legit barbecue, I think of it as a place for sausage and brisket—not ribs. First, if you're talking about beef ribs vs. pork ribs, pork wins every time. It's not even close. Second, they use a lot of really aggressive smoke, cooking with woods like mesquite. In Kansas City, it's all about balance; we want to taste the meat first and foremost, then the smoke and the seasoning. We like ribs with a full, round flavor incorporating a bit of sweetness and spice that complements the meat. KC is rightly known for sauce, but it is never meant to smother and overpower the ribs, just to accentuate them." —Howard Hanna, chef/owner, The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, Kansas City

What's your favorite city to devour a rack of ribs?

More chefs answer:
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LET’S DISCUSS:

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