This past Saturday I attended the 12th annual Rib Cook Off to benefit the Sarasota Fire Fighters Benevolent Fund. Thirteen teams from Station Houses from all corners of Sarasota County. Over 2,000 people attended and consumed over 3,000 pounds of ribs. It was a warm day for March, but everyone happily chewed on ribs and voted for the one they liked the most. My first stop was at table “M” which represented Station House 4 in Sarasota. I was very impressed with their product which I found to be moist, juicy and cooked just right. What really impressed me were the 8 different sauces (all homemade) which were available for you to try with their ribs. I continued through the event and tried several more some I liked and other not so much. Some were cooked too much, I’m not fond of crispy meat and others not enough.
Finally, the time came to vote and my choice was clear – it was the fire fighters from Station House 4. They also won first place in 2014. I believe what sets them apart from their competitors are their selection of sauces. Others had sauces, but they were bought at Publix. This pictures shows a father and son trying to decide which to choose.
They won the People’s Choice and were selected number one by the team of judges. The Florida Division of Forestry came in second and Station House 8 (located on Bee Ridge Road) came in third. Congrats to all the winners.
4 pounds baby back pork ribs
salt and pepper
2½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup water
½ cup sugar or honey
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup chili sauce
6 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place ribs in a single layer in a shallow baking dish, dust lightly with salt and pepper, and bake until halfway done, approximately 30 minutes.
- While the ribs are baking, combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until cranberries pop.
- Spoon the cranberry mixture into a blender, and carefully blend in small batches until all the sauce has been pureed. (You can also use a stick or immersion blender to puree the sauce.) Return the sauce to a pan over medium heat and allow it to simmer and thicken, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Drain any juices from the partially baked ribs. Pour sauce over ribs and bake until pork is no longer pink, about 15 minutes.
Yields: 4 servings, about half a rack per person