Chow Town

Boning up for kosher barbecue festival

Apple smoked small beef short ribs with fantastic flavor.
Apple smoked small beef short ribs with fantastic flavor. Special to The Star

I didn’t get a rabbinical dispensation at last year’s Kansas City Kosher BBQ Festival.

Rabbi Mendel Segal was either too busy to notice or he discreetly looked the other way. My usual Remus Powers barbecue outfit includes a butcher’s apron with three pork sparerib bones attached to the bib. I felt guilty all year for wearing pork rib bones to the festival. This year I followed through on good intentions and barbecued some beef short ribs.

I prepped the sun-dried bones with several coats of polyurethane. Super magnets from Mack Hardware are glued to the back of each bone for easy placement and solid grip. Now I’m ready to administer the judges’ oath and partake of kosher barbecue without guilt Sunday at the 4th Annual Kansas City Vaad Kosher BBQ Festival 2015. The barbecue contest at the festival is the first kosher barbecue contest to be sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

A positive collateral benefit of harvesting beef rib bones for my festival apron was a reminder of just how darned good properly barbecued beef ribs taste. Long ago when I first tackled barbecue beef ribs, they turned out tough and tallowy. A friend who has had similar results with beef ribs suggested boiling them before smoking.

I just couldn’t do that. Like the bumper sticker I saw at a barbecue contest said, “Boiled Ribs is Soup!” Boiling ribs of any kind before smoking is blasphemy in barbecue circles, and for good reason: it boils out the natural flavors of the meat, lost forever unless you’re making soup.

If you haven’t treated yourself to barbecue beef ribs recently or ever, this summer is a good time to do it. Instead of a full rack, I got individually cut short ribs. My first batch consisted of three 2-1/2- to 3-1/4-inch bones, the last package available at Mission Hy-Vee. Two days later I found and bought two 4-1/4-inch meaty bones.

Follow my fail-safe recipe in 25 Essentials: Techniques for Smoking, or do this: Choose meaty ribs, marbled with fat; brush the meat with a light coating of olive oil; sprinkle lightly with pepper and salt and smoke opposite hot coals in a covered grill at 250 to 275 degrees for 11/2 to 2 hours until tender and done. I used dry apple wood chips, but pecan, oak or hickory also works.

One bite and you’ll understand why Aaron Franklin and thousands of other barbecue aficionados rate barbecue beef ribs as their favorite. Our three grandkids and their friend devoured the ribs with gusto after Gretchen and I each took a sample bite of heaven. No wonder a rack of beef ribs is also known as Jacobs Ladder, a metaphorical ladder from Earth to heaven.

For more about Segal and the rapidly growing Kosher Barbecue contest network, read Victor Wishna’s engaging article, Meet ‘RaBBi-Q’ — Kansas City’s kosher BBQ star.

Kudos to Segal for starting a new Chow Town barbecue festival tradition! Looking for fun, good eats and great music this Sunday? See you at the Kosher BBQ Festival, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Ritz Charles, 9000 W. 137th St., Overland Park. For more information, go to

Ardie Davis founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. His most recent release is America’s Best BBQ (Revised Edition), with chef Paul Kirk.