Ron Lutz

Vegas Seven grills a butcher for the secret to righteous ribs

Ron Lutz is exactly what would imagine your local butcher to look like: short, stocky build; thick hands toughened by years of cutting meat; and a mustache that perfectly embodies his East Coast upbringing. A second-generation butcher, Lutz moved to Las Vegas with his family in 1985 from Pittsburgh right before his senior year of high school. After finishing his education at the Southern Nevada Vocational Center, Lutz followed in his father’s footsteps and began a two-year apprenticeship at two supermarkets, J&J and Lucky (now Albertsons).

In 1993, Lutz’s deft butchery skills were recognized as he became the head butcher for Treasure Island, where he became so proficient that he can now eyeball portions to within a fraction of an ounce.

Seeing a need in the marketplace, Lutz and his wife, Jeannette, opened the Butcher Block (7625 S. Rainbow Blvd.) in 2006. “For all the years I worked at the grocery stores and all the years I worked in hotels, everybody would always say, ‘Where would I find good meat?’” Lutz says. “Well, I knew where to buy it so I wanted to bring that to the general public of Las Vegas.”

Going through vendor Out West Meat Co., Lutz supplies high-quality pork, seafood, chicken and beef such as Australian wagyu, but also more exotic offerings such as venison, buffalo, antelope, alligator and wild boar. “One guy even wanted me to order him some raccoon,” Lutz says.

With an ample supply of quality meats on hand, Lutz has also become a proficient grill master, picking up tips and tricks while working with the chefs at TI. His two-step preparation offers flavor and flexibility. “It’s simple, easy to do and it can be tweaked any way you want,” Lutz says. “If you can get the basics, you do it more spicy, more garlicky—whatever you want to suit everyone’s flavor profile. Personally, I’m a spice fanatic. Sometimes I even put a few habanero peppers in to kick it up.”

Perfect for chicken, tri-tips, baby back ribs or pork chops, Lutz likes to first apply the dry rub to the meat, and then mark it with a good sear on a low-heat grill. He then completely bastes the meat with the sauce, again after every turn and once more after letting the meat rest. The secret to a good barbecue, according to Lutz: “Low and slow. Low and slow.”

Easy Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

(3 or 4 racks of baby back ribs)

Dry barbecue rub (Below)

Barbecue sauce (Below)

One aluminum casserole pan

A six-pack of Dr Pepper

Preheat a grill on low for 15 minutes. While you wait for it to heat up, rub a generous amount of the dry spice mixture onto the ribs. Place the ribs onto the grill, mark them on each side and remove. Baste ribs in the barbecue sauce and arrange them standing up, leaning against each other in the casserole pan. Move them into the bottom rack of an oven heated to
250 degrees and fill the entire pan with Dr Pepper. Cover the entire dish with aluminum foil and cook for four hours. Remove the ribs from the oven and put them back onto the grill for 10-15 minutes to create a nice char. Remove and baste once more with the barbecue sauce before serving.

Dry Barbecue Rub

  • ¼ cup firm, packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons black pepper
  • ¼ cup sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of the dry rub
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • ½ tablespoon black pepper

Simmer over medium-low heat in a saucepan until it turns a dark brown. Sauce can be refrigerated for about a month.

Beer Pairing

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Lutz’s recommendation for pairing with his barbecue is simple: “Beer. I’m a pilsner guy, but if you’re doing a barbecue, a dark beer is pretty good. A dark beer is always good with a dark barbecue sauce, and I prefer Samuel Adams. The smokiness of the food with the darker, richer flavors of the beer stand up well together.