Tropic of Capsaicin
An Exploration of the Hot Dishes in a Hot City, Or Where to Go When You're Not at Waterloo Park
Smoked Jerk Baby-Back Ribs at Hoover's2002 Manor Rd., 479-5006
I have been a regular at Hoover's for several years now. But I only recently discovered what legions of hungry Austinites have always known: Hoover's smoked jerk baby-back ribs are simply divine. Made with a wet rub of 17 spices, then slow smoked, the end result is meat that explodes with flavor and falls apart at the bone. The inspiration for the smoked jerk ribs came to Hoover during a vacation in Jamaica, where he tasted that island's famous fiery seasoning and decided to try it at home. Developed as a means to preserve meats in the absence of refrigeration, jerk seasoning incorporates chiles, vinegar, and spices to keep it from spoiling. At home, Hoover decided to meld the Jamaican jerk with a local meat preservative: smoking. The result is an exotically spiced alternative to Southern-style baby backs. The secret to their great taste, according to a Hoover's manager, is in the marinade, which among other things, features black pepper, red pepper, and dried habanero pepper.