Appetizers

Ribs, brisket, pulled pork and more at Best In the West throw-down

A pitmaster turns racks of pork spareribs at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off.
A pitmaster turns racks of pork spareribs at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. apierleoni@sacbee.com

The half-million barbecue-lovers who converged on the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nev., last year are doing it again at the 28th annual edition of the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. It’s the biggest such throw-down in the country, on center stage today through Labor Day, Monday Sept. 5.

The annual gathering of Rib Nation will rip through more than a quarter-million pounds of St. Louis-style pork ribs, spice-rubbed, smoked, sauced and sold by 23 professional cooking teams from around the country. Add to the menu mountains of beef brisket, pulled pork, roasted corn, deep-fried potatoes, onion rings and funnel cakes.

On Sunday, Sept. 4, a team of judges will select the five top rib entries (and sauces), totaling their points based on taste, texture and appearance. The double-blind tasting is so serious that the judges are not allowed to speak to each other during the timed tasting, and are not allowed to eat any ribs at any time before the judging. Meanwhile, the public will vote for the people’s choice rib winner.

Live entertainment will include an Elton John tribute, “The Rocket Man Show,” Eddie Money, Jessie James Decker and Everyday Outlaws.

The Nugget is at 1100 Nugget Ave. in Sparks, Nev., about five miles from Reno. Admission and parking are free. Information: www.nuggetribcookoff.com.

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe

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