Friday, June 4, 2010
TBG Eats: Burger King's NEW Fire-Grilled Ribs
Current Weight: 169.8 lbs.
The average high temperature here in San Diego is 72 degrees and our city endures only 11-12 inches of rain per year. Deciduous purists are quick to mock California's absence of seasons, but I've done bonfires at Huntington Beach over Thanksgiving weekend and bacon-wrapped filet mignon out on the grill for Christmas dinner. I'm fine with missing out on real winters.
I'm also not opposed to no-showing the assorted summer cookouts that are right around the corner.
Mrs. Bootleg, Jalen and I are America's undisputed favorite freeloading family. Our annual June-thru-September tour of everyone else's backyards knows no bounds (and knows no shame). In my wife's mind, a giant bowl of her famous macaroni salad is our potluck pass into the homes of friends and co-workers. We enjoy the conversation. We enjoy the camaraderie. And, Mrs. Bootleg enjoys overpopulating the surface area of paper plates.
When it comes to the food, I'd estimate that my enthusiasm is 50% of Mrs. Bootleg's. On the one hand, you simply cannot go wrong with carne asada or pollo asado. Hamburgers and hot dogs are almost impossible to screw up. And, if you want the eternal gratitude of your African-American friends, pick up a pack of hot links and watch the gastronomic magic happen.
On the other hand, there are the traditional barbecue side dishes. I'll never understand the allure of baked beans. The whole "sweet n' salty" gimmick was perfected by kettle corn and Nestle Flips. Baked beans are an ancient, unnecessary stand-by that might be the messiest food one can eat with a spork.
I'm less hostile towards potato salad, but it's impossible to find my favorites – a warm German potato salad or one blended with blue cheese – on the average American picnic table. Yep, I'm a side dish snob, y'all. And, don't tell Mrs. Bootleg, but y'know her "famous" macaroni salad? The one that her girlfriends love more than me? It's a little overrated. She makes it with Miracle Whip, which is an abomination to mayonnaise fans like me.
Consequently, I'm usually limited to coleslaw – with or without pineapple – and grilled corn on the cob. And, if I'm in the mood for ribs, it would seem that America can now turn her eyes to…Burger King? You've all probably seen the AiAA-worthy commercial that pairs the unappealing image of a winged pig with a new food product.
Undeterred, I ordered a three-piece last Saturday from my neighborhood BK drive-thru. The disembodied voice from the speaker said, "Those take a little while to prepare. Do you still want 'em?" I'm pretty sure those last five words weren't in the "new menu item marketing" script she was reading from.
Before I could respond, she came back over the speaker and told me the wait would be 4-5 minutes. Was the extra 90 seconds beyond the regular drive-thru wait time really worth mentioning? Is this supposed to convince me that the ribs are "slow cooked"?
BK's Fire-Grilled Ribs are similar in size to the "Riblets" at Applebee's (the bones, however, aren't razor-sharpened mini-shanks like the one's Applebee's offers up). They're served in a mildly-insulated bag that released a pleasing, if misplaced, scent when opened. It's not that I didn't appreciate the bacon-y aroma, but aren't these supposed to be ribs?
The ribs are served seasoned, but without sauce. And, before you BBQ snobs start in with your "real barbecue doesn't need sauce" nonsense, know that the sauce here is served on the side.
These were actually pretty decent by fast food standards. Sure, this is more "appetizer" than "entrée", but the pork had a smoky flavor that was reasonably tender and spiced nicely. The miniscule amount of meat was helped out by the kinda-sweet, kinda-spicy barbecue sauce that added a mild kick to the meal. There was even a very small touch of fattiness off the bone that helped with the texture.
My expectations weren't especially high, but BK's Fire Grilled Ribs pulled off a "TBG Eats" upset, to some extent. If only the King knew his way around a German potato salad.
Grade: 3 (out of 5) Calories (3-piece): 225, Fat: 18 g