Serve ribs without the fuss

CHICAGO There is plenty of good barbeque in Chicago. On the North Side, Smoque, Fat Willy's and Smoke Daddy have proved consistent. While on the South Side, The Rib Joint and Lem's are legendary. But don't forget about Barbara Ann's. They've been slow-smoking all kinds of beef, chicken and pork over hardwood to the lip-smacking, wet-nap-loving delight of South Siders for years.

For more than four decades, the smell of slow-smoked barbeque has wafted from the chimney at Barbara Ann's, a legend in the Grand Crossing neighborhood on the city's South Side.

"It's been here almost 41 years, and it was named after Barbara - her parents bought the place and named it - had it built and named it after her. And she's still here, she owns the barbeque house and the motel that's adjoined to this," said Carolyn Hinton, Barbara Ann's BBQ.

Regulars mostly come for the rib tips, served over french fries and drenched in either mild or hot sauce. But there's much more than just tips.

Turkey links are part of a trio of link options -- beef and pork are the others.

As for their ribs, they are given a light dusting of barbeque seasoning, then without too much waiting around, they make their way to the giant, aquarium-style smoker, bordered on both sides by sliding glass doors.

The pit master is constantly checking the product - either adding oak hardwood to the fire to get it hot, or alternately, hosing down the flames if they get too intense. The key is obviously slow-smoking them over an even amount of heat for about two to three hours, depending on their size. Their Fred Flinstone-worthy beef ribs might take a bit longer, due to their size.

If you don't ask, the sauce will arrive on top, but get it on the side; that way, you can appreciate the slight pink smoke ring on the outer edge of the rib, and dip as you like to add a sweet zing which balances the smoky char.

Hinton says with several competitors on the South Side, she thinks her staff makes all the difference.

"I think it's the people, and the way we cook here. We put, we take pride in what we do here. May not look like it, but we really do. We enjoy working here," said Hinton.

Another good bet on the South Side is Uncle John's on 69th Street where the pit master first earned his reputation working at - you guessed it - Barbara Ann's.

Barbara Ann's BBQ
7617 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

Other BBQ places mentioned:

Uncle John's BBQ
337 E 69th St.
(773) 892-1233

311 E 75th St.
(773) 994-2428

The Rib Joint
432 E 87th St
(773) 651-4108

3800 N Pulaski Rd.
(773) 545-7427

Smoke Daddy
1804 W Division St.
(773) 772-6656

Honey 1 BBQ
2241 N Western Ave.
(773) 227-5130

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