County BBQ slow-smokes in Little Italy

September 13, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The theme at the new County BBQ in Little Italy, if there is one, is sort of a "greatest hits" of regional 'cue. It includes everything from St. Louis spare ribs to Texas-style hot links, for starters.

"There are many things that we love about barbecue from Carolina down to Memphis. So we're taking some of those things that are inspiring and totally delicious to us and really put our own stamp on 'em," said chef Erick Williams.

Brisket is slow-smoked as well, sliced and served as part of a sampler platter with smoked chicken and hotlinks, as well as those thicker spare ribs.

"The reason why I love spare ribs is because they happen to have a lot more fat in the actual meat, which cooks down to moisture," said Williams.

Sides are, by and large, worth the caloric splurge: cheesy potatoes, rich corn pudding and vinegary collards join forces with blackened cauliflower and crunchy kale.

Williams grew up on the West Side, so he knows all about Chicago's rib tip tradition. But unlike most, which are coated in sauce and white bread, his are a revelation.

"First and foremost I don't put any sauce on 'em; second of all I like to dry rub 'em, which I find really, really shows and displays the best part of rib tips," he said. "If we're spending this much time, cooking things slow-- as the term goes slow and low-- we really want people to be able to see the fact that we have a very, very identifiable smoke ring around those rib tips and we want people to be able to see that they're cooked juicy," said Williams.

So pay heed to Williams' advice: an awful lot of work goes into slow-smoking all the items on his menu to ensure you get that beautiful, pink smoke ring. So please, sauce on the side.

County BBQ
1352 W. Taylor St.

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