As chefs from across the area prepare their grills for the coveted Ribfest, BBQ King Smokehouse's Jason Szmurlo has some tips for creating the most "succulent" ribs at home this summer.
Revealing the recipe behind his signature Pretzel Bomb, the dish he will be making at the delicious summer festival in Chicago, Szmurlo, who owns the Woodstock barbecue staple, is looking for his third title of "Best Ribs" at the meaty event.
The 20th annual Ribfest, dubbed the largest cookout in Chicago, kicks off Friday in the city's North Center neighborhood. The festival, which began in 1999, has been featured on the Food Network and was named "Reader's Choice #1 Best Food Fest" by Chicago Reader, organizers said.
Szmurlo, who owns BBQ King Smokehouse in Woodstock, and is currently opening another restaurant in Huntley, has won the the award for "Best Ribs" at the festival for 2016 and 2017, a title dished out by a "celebrity panel" of local Chicagoans who taste and evaluate each rib.
His top tips for the preparing ribs at home include:
- Remove silver-skin membrane off back of the rib. Always use paper towel to grip it and assist in pulling it off.
- Wrap your ribs in aluminum foil for the final hour of cooking. Add 50/50 of water and apple juice before wrapping, then finish on grill before serving.
Here's a look at how you can make Szmurlo's Pretzel Bomb.
1 six-to-eight pound bone-in pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ Sauce
1/4 cup of you favorite BBQ Rub
6 Brioche Buns or Pretzel Buns
Favorite Barbecue sauce and prepared coleslaw
Store Bought favorite mac n cheese mix
1 bag crispy fried onions
Rub the BBQ Rub all over the pork. Reserve 1 tablespoon for later.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add the pork and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, for approximately 5 minutes. Remove the pork and transfer to a plate. Whisk 1 cup water into the drippings in the skillet. Transfer the liquid to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.
Add the vinegar, BBQ sauce, BBQ rub and 2 cups water to the slow cooker, and whisk to combine. Add the pork, cover and cook on low, for approximately 8 hours.
Remove the pork and transfer to a cutting board. Strain the liquid into a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Roughly chop the pork and mix in a bowl with 1 cup of the reduced cooking liquid, and salt and vinegar to taste.
Prepare mac n cheese according to directions.
Serve on buns, layering the pulled pork, mac n cheese and barbecue sauce, topped with crispy fried onions.