On a driving trip from Rochester, NY to Dallas, Texas, and back, we stopped for the night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I had prebooked rooms evenly spaced out along our route. This night we were staying at a Super-8 motel. We hadn’t eaten, so we were going to check into our room, dump off our stuff, and then head off to find food. When we are away, we try not to eat at restaurants that we have at home. So we avoid the generic McDonalds, and Burger Kings. We will however try other fast food chains such as Sonic, or Chick Fil-A that we don’t have at home.
When we got into our room, I found a little card advertising a place called Dreamland BBQ (5535 15th Avenue East, Tuscaloosa, AL 35405, 205-758-8135), and said they had award winning ribs. I like ribs. There was a rough little map on the card, so I memorized it, and we jumped into our car, and headed off. I pictured the map in my head, and we followed the road, but we didn’t find this Dreamland BBQ place. So we turned around, and started considering alternatives. Then I saw a side road which had a name that I remembered from the card. So we turned down the road. This took us through an industrial area. Then we came to another road which had a name that sounded familiar so we turned down this road. Pretty soon we are dringing through a residential area. Then we came upon Dreamland BBQ. The building looked a bit ramshackle. We questioned whether we wanted to eat here. But being adventurous, we decided to give it a shot. The inside was kind of dark. The walls were covered with pictures, and license plates. There were Christmas lights draped from the ceiling, and this was June. We look at the menu, and the choices were relatively limited. We ordered a full slab of ribs. They brought out the ribs on a plate. They also brought out a plate of sliced white bread, a bowl of Dreamland BBQ sauce, and a roll of paper towels. We tried the ribs. Oh man, were they good! Pretty soon, we are just chowing down. We also took time to look at the stuff on the walls. There various news clippings, and letters about famous people who had eaten there. The sauce didn’t seem spicey hot, but the more ribs we ate, the more we started to feel the slight tingle of the hot spices on our lips. It had an interesting delayed spicey heat that never got too hot. Soon, we were sopping up the sauce from our plates with the bread. These ribs are the best I have ever had. When I got home, I did a search, and found a BBQ sauce recipe that came close to the real thing.

Almost Dreamland BBQ Sauce

1 can (28 oz.) tomato puree
1/3 cup yellow mustard
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

In large saucepan, whisk together the tomato puree and mustard until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm.

Making The Ribs

Pork Spare ribs

There is a thin membrane on the back of the ribs. Use a knife to peel up corner, and peel off as much of the membrane as possible. Slice into sections of 3 ribs each. Bake in oven at 325 degrees for 1 ½ – 2 ½ hours. Finish on grill if desired. Slice into single ribs. Drench ribs into warm BBQ sauce, and place on plate. Pour sauce over ribs. Serve along with a plate of sliced white bread (for dipping, and wiping up sauce), and a roll of paper towels.