Hello everyone, I hope you had a nice Memorial Day weekend and were able to spend some time outside honing your BBQ skills. As promised to you last week, we have a lot going on at Food n’ Focus for you this week. If you didn’t read our Kansas City BBQ Tour Preview from Thursday, then you might want to read that before your read this week’s posts.
We are going to go a little bit in reverse order here today, and by that I mean that our first post of the week is going to be about the last BBQ restaurant that we stopped at on our KC BBQ tour. The last place that we visited was the famous Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que – which is located in a gas station in Kansas City, KS. Don’t let the gas station setting turn you off, this is some of the best BBQ you will ever have.
To say that we were greeted upon our arrival by Joe’s Director of Marketing, Doug Worgul, would be a shameful mistake. We were initially greeted by the mouthwatering smell of meat being slowly smoked over Missouri White Oak coals as we pulled into the parking lot. The second that we got out of the car and were able to fully enjoy the smell of championship winning BBQ, we knew we were in store for something amazing.
We arrived about 20 minutes before the advertised opening time and there was already a line forming (people in KC are serious about their BBQ). As we made our way inside to find Doug, we were sidetracked by the smells that were now beginning to develop into flavors, the side effect being instant hunger – and the urge to immediately order lunch at 10:45am.
After gathering ourselves from the effects of sensory overload, we met up with Doug who then graciously led us on a behind the scenes tour of Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. The first room we entered contained multiple trays of ribs which had recently finished smoking. Just as my mouth was watering, and I was controlling the urge to grab a rack of ribs off one of the trays, Doug opened the door on one of the smokers to show us how the ribs are smoked. As the door swung open, the smoky BBQ scents that we first encountered in the parking lot were now even more prominent. There were dozens of racks being smoked in this smoker, which led me to ask the question: “How much BBQ do you go through in a day?” Without hesitation Doug replied: “Tens of thousands of pounds per month.”
As we continued on the tour we saw smoked pork butts stacked up like cord wood, BBQ beans in containers large enough to swim in, and sauce which seems to be produced in quantities large enough to fill an oil tanker. The best part about the tour (besides the smell) had to be seeing the workers preparing everything. This tour really gave us an idea of how much work it really is to produce such amazing and consistently good BBQ.
Let’s take a quick time out from discussing our Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que experience to elaborate on Hint #1 from the preview that we posted last Thursday. Hint #1 mentioned that the word Burnt had a different meaning in Kansas City than it does throughout the rest of the world.
If someone says that something is burnt, it generally means that something went wrong and that you should start the cooking process over, unless you for some reason like a mouth full of burnt, bitter, charred food. This is where your life changes… In KC, there is a type of BBQ called Burnt Ends. Take everything you conger up when you think of the word burnt, and replace it with thoughts of what is quite possibly the best form of BBQ that you will ever have.
Burnt ends are part of a beef brisket that are given a special treatment with an additional smoking process. After a brisket is smoked, the end, or the “point” of the brisket is cut off, and then smoked for a second time – this cut becomes the burnt ends. Since there is a higher content of fat in this part of the brisket, the second smoking of that part of the brisket renders more of the fat and turns it into something really special. To put it plainly, burnt ends are awesome, and something you should add to your bucket list if you haven’t been fortunate enough to try them up until this point. We are going to discuss burnt ends more as the week goes on, but for now let’s get back to our experience at Joe’s. As a side note, Joe’s makes their burnt ends a little bit differently than other restaurants. Since it’s a proprietary process, Doug did not share the secrets with us on how their burnt ends are produced. I’ll just say that all you have to do is try the burnt ends at Joe’s, and you’ll understand exactly why they aren’t sharing the process with anyone else.
After our tour concluded, we were able to spend a few more minutes with Doug were he answered some of the questions that weren’t answered during our tour. The burning question that I had was “What should I have for lunch?” Doug of course said that you can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu, however he said since there was a burnt end special for lunch the day that we were there, that burnt ends would be a good choice. Since I had these little chunks of BBQ heaven at the other restaurants we visited, I thought this would be a good chance for me to compare a like item between restaurants.