Ribfest Throw Down – Grub Club

As you know by now, on Sundays BFF&E and I get together to hang out, catch up and eat. A couple posts have already been devoted to what we make. But this week we officially hit epic status and this post is not for the foodie who’s light at heart.

Every Labor Day, The Nugget Rib Cook-Off brings thousands of people out of their homes to stand in long lines and sample ribs and sandwiches from vendors and restaurants across the nation. I’ve lost my patience after decades of fighting for parking spots and the Rib Fest is no longer something we go to. For years now, I do ribs at home and celebrate that way. Because it was my week to come up with dinner, I decided to share my rib cooking talents with BFF&E. My Brother offered to cook some country spare ribs the same way my Grandma used to make them (coated in salt and pepper and broiled in the oven in an aluminum foil packet – perfection!)(but he ended up not doing them that way). When we were talking about sides, he wanted to make mashed potatoes (which are highly requested at all our family gatherings). BFF&E, a fierce competitor, wanted to do mashed potatoes too because she was positive hers were just as good (if not better) than Brother’s. And that’s why we ended up doing the mashed potato throw down: everyone in my family is constantly trying to outdo each other in the kitchen.

This weekend we were joined by Baby Brother and Mom for our Sunday get together. And when we eat, we give vultures a run for their money. No one shares in my family. Only the fastest gets their fill when we’re all gathered to eat.

Which is why we named our sit downs, GRUB CLUB. We like the grub. And voila! our Grub Club officially started.

This is some of our bounty.


Some country spare ribs marinating in a sauce Baby Brother made.


It’s an adobo chipotle marinade that the ribs soaked in for a couple hours. Apparently Baby Brother got the recipe off Pinterest. If you like your ribs with some kick, then comment and I’ll get the recipe for you. But for me it was so spicy hot that it made me shudder.

Here is a photo of BFF&E’s potatoes right before we put them in the oven. You guessed it – her tactic is to bake and then mash the potatoes.


Checking out my ribs in the crock pot:


I didn’t put my ribs in a sauce or marinade – I’m a fan of less is more. All I did was put a couple tablespoons of peanut oil on the bottom of my crock pot and sprinkled the ribs with garlic salt. I do garlic salt and don’t add salt (but when I do add salt it is always Kosher) because it’s a way for me to control the sodium in my dishes. Then I poured a couple tablespoons of liquid smoke and massaged those two ingredients on the ribs. I put them in the crock pot and they were folded over each other and I poured two cups of Dr Pepper over them (I did turn them every hour or so to make sure they were cooked evenly). Seven hours later they were fall off the bone PERFECTION! I like meat in it’s own juices as a sauce, so I didn’t put anything else on my ribs. The smoky sweet taste was a winner with everyone present!

We did a blind taste test to decide which potatoes we liked best. There were two different methods and two different potatoes used so there would be a noticeable difference. This part of our evening was super fun and totally chaotic since everyone wanted to participate and vote which left me, the selfless volunteer (HA!) to give everyone their plates, samples and ballots.


By this time, we’d been cooking all day and the impatient members of the grub club were really squawking. Imagine sitting here all day and the torture of the amazing smells circulating in my small space and nothing was ready to eat. I understand why they were so eager to just eat. Hyper Nephew was trying desperately to make sure I knew he wanted to do the taste test by jumping up and down in front of me and following me around as I put the small samples on the plate. I thought I had it perfectly figured out by numbering the samples so people could vote on which one they liked best.

However, because it was a BLIND taste test, there were a couple issues.

Mom member gobbled both samples as one and happily asked, “Where’s the next sample?” And no one could see which sample they tried first. When it was time to vote, we weren’t quite sure which sample actually won because we don’t know if they sampled one as one or as two.

I wanted to do the blind tasting because I didn’t want my brother’s potatoes to have an advantage and everyone was sure they’d know his when they tasted. Everyone voted for sample two which was actually BFF&E’s and then they were all stunned that it wasn’t my brother’s. The exact reason why I wanted to do it blind. But again, no one was sure which one they tasted first. We ended up calling it a tie.

Sample one is Brother’s. He boiled red and Yukon potatoes and mashed them with ingredients he told me I can’t share (HA! sorry). BFF&E baked Yukon gold and mashed them with sour cream and butter.

My vote was actually for two – the baked potato taste added depth that I really enjoyed. I will do my own version eventually and share it here.

Finally it was time to eat.


I hope you can tell the darker colored ribs are mine from the crock pot and the (shuddering hot) marinated ribs are the lighter, almost orangish ones and the two different potatoes with the marinade as a gravy.

I picked this bottle when I was at Total Wine. It was at the register with a card that said it was a perfect pairing for ribs. It was! It was sweet and spicy and it probably enhanced the spicy ribs making them too hot for me to finish. The bottle was $11 and Wine Spectator rated it at 90.


Everyone had a lot of fun and we officially have a Grub Club. We haven’t figured out the logistics just yet, how often we’re going to meet and what not, but rest assured I will post our endeavors here.

Thank you for reading! Don’t forget to like, follow and comment for recipes!



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