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burnT Ends smoky crunchy bits of Kansas City barbecue



A sumptuous feast Kansas City’s grand civic barbecue tradition Bluestem’s Colby Garrelts talks smoke page 4 Whiskey: The spirit of barbecue page 8 On the cutting edge page 13 An occasional publication of recipes, music, lore, useless information, shameless self promotion and questionable advice, from the good folks at Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ of Kansas City and Olathe, Kansas.

The Grand Barbecue Kansas City’s barbecue tradition rooted deep in history

For all that may come Right smack in the middle of the front page of the very first edition of The Kansas City Star. September 18, 1880. Under the headline “The Grand Barbecue” is an article running the full length of the page describing the celebration of the longawaited completion of a railroad switch that would create a direct rail connection to the south end of the city. In the charming vernacular of the day, the article describes the city’s mood: The people are so much elated over it that a grand old fashioned barbecue was determined upon, and to-day the event is being celebrated in a manner and style characteristic of Kansas City pluck and enterprise.


uly 3, 1869, is one of the more important dates in Kansas City history. On that day the Hannibal Bridge was opened—the first permanent bridge across the wide Missouri River. The economic and cultural impact of the bridge would be difficult to overstate. It transformed a small frontier settlement into a boom town almost overnight. One aspect of Kansas City culture, however, was already well-established. Kansas Citians celebrated significant civic events with barbecue. Sixty years after the opening of the Hannibal Bridge, writer Bernard Donnelly of The Kansas City Star described the day with these words: Then the celebrators re-formed and marched to the barbecue grounds, located in Col. Steen’s pasture. Then there were some speeches. After some music, Judge William Douglass introduced Gen. John A. McClearnand of Illinois, the orator of the day, who spoke prophetically of the future of Kansas City and the West. Carl Schurz, then senator from Missouri, was called upon to speak, but declaring that he had come to see and hear, rather than to talk, he turned Gen. Grant’s phrase “Let us have peace” into “Let us have dinner,” and it being noon everyone consented and “attacked the tables.” 2 4

The event, which was held at 20th & Walnut Streets, featured a parade complete with marching bands, military units, horsedrawn carriages, and drill teams. In 1880, around 60,000 people called Kansas City home. The price of The Kansas City Star was two cents a copy. And barbecue was a part of our civic identity even then. Then, as now, whenever there was something worth making a big deal about, they did it with barbecue. Near the end of the Star story about that grand barbecue one hundred and thirty-one years ago is a sentence that is nearly biblical in its prose and promise. Reading it, you might think it was describing heaven. It is, in fact, describing Kansas City. It concludes with these words: …where a sumptuous feast of fat things is prepared for all that may come. 3 4

change of pace Colby Garrelts slows down Kansas City is blessed with some exceptionally gifted chefs whose vision and enterprise has graced our city with a disproportionate number of fine dining establishments. Colby Garrelts is one of these chefs. With his wife, Chef Megan Garrelts, he is co-owner of bluestem in Westport, one of the Midwest’s premier fine dining destinations. Recently, Colby shared some of his thoughts with us regarding Kansas City’s unique culinary heritage: “So many chefs in Kansas City and other mid-sized cities get caught up in trying to emulate fine dining trends from elsewhere, from the various food and dining capitals on the Coasts and around the world. I’ve gotten caught up in that mentality myself. But it’s really a dead end. You’re not really creating anything new. And you’re not building on a tradition of your own. I’ve reached point in my professional development that I reject that. Not the commitment to quality, or the use of fine ingredients, or the commitment to innovation. But the idea that traditions from other parts of the world or other parts of the country are somehow better than our own. Some chefs don’t acknowledge or understand that we have culinary traditions of our own here in the Midwest. I’ve reached the point where I’m eager to embrace these traditions—the chicken, the steaks, the cobblers. And best of all; cooking with smoke. “Much of the Midwest culinary tradition is about sharing. Barbecue, for example, is very communal. You don’t go to all the trouble to slow smoke a primal cut of beef for eighteen hours, just to make dinner for two. No, you make barbecue for a party, for a church dinner, for a civic celebration. When I was in my twenties I didn’t have the patience or the maturity to appreciate that slower pace and more casual approach. I’m wiser now.”

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Roasted pork, with sweet and sour peaches A recipe from Bluestem: The Cookbook, by Chefs Megan and Colby Garrelts We usually have one main course on the summer menu that casually nods toward barbecue, which is an integral part of our local culture. Kansas City barbecue relies on a combination of sweetness, smokiness, and spicy heat, with just a touch of acidity to balance it all out. You’ll find all of these flavors in the sweet and sour peaches that accompany the pork. Peaches • 2 tbsp. grape seed oil • 4 firm but ripe peaches, halved and pitted • 2 young onion bulbs (or small white onions), sliced 1/2 inch thick • 2 scallions, halved lengthwise • 11/2 cups bourbon • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice • 3/4 cup sherry vinegar • 1/2 cup Madeira • 1/2 cup honey • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper • 5 cardamom pods

Pork • 2 tbsps. salt • 1 tbsp. brown sugar • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper • 1/2 tsp. chili powder • 1/8 tsp. paprika • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt • 4 double-cut pork loin chops, attached in rack form and trussed • 2 tbsps. grapeseed oil

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Halve each peach along its seam. The peach will open with the pit lying flat, making it much easier to lever it out with a paring knife. Place the peaches, onion slices, and scallions, cut side down, in the skillet. Griddle them until the peaches and onions caramelize and the scallions have just begun to soften, turning the onions and scallions as needed, about 20 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the peaches, onions, and scallions to a plate. Bring the bourbon, orange juice, vinegar, Madeira, honey, pepper, and cardamom to a simmer in a large saucepan over high heat. Lower the heat to medium to maintain a gentle simmer and reduce the sauce until it is thick and syrupy, about one hour. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Combine the salt, brown sugar, pepper, chili powder, paprika, and garlic salt in a small bowl. Rub the seasoning mix over the pork, coating the meat generously with all of it. Heat the grape seed oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, brown the rack of pork, turning the meat often to prevent the rub from burning. Place the browned rack of pork, with the bones pointing upward, on a rack set over a roasting pan. Roast the meat in the oven for 25 minutes for a slightly pink interior. Let the meat rest for at least 15 minutes. Bring the reduced sauce to a gentle simmer in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peaches and onions—but not the scallions—and let them cook in the sauce, which should thicken and bubble, for a couple of minutes. Turn the onions and peaches over to coat them with the saucy glaze. To serve, cut the pork rack into 4 equal-size “chops.” Transfer the glazed peaches, onions, and scallions from the skillet to 4 plates. Drizzle some of the syrup over and around them. Serve them with the pork chops. Serves four.

Bluestem: The Cookbook, by Megan and Colby Garrelts (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $45.00) will be published November 8, 2011

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Baaaa-rbecue Kentucky Style T

he most surprising of the many pretenders to the title “Barbecue Capital of the World” is the city of Owensboro, Kentucky. It’s not that Owensboro has no legitimate barbecue history. It does. As early as the 1830’s the community’s churches and civic organizations held regular barbecue events for fellowship and fund raising, a tradition that is carried on to this day. Way back in 1890, an African-American gentleman named Harry Green opened the town’s first commercial barbecue establishment, a good seventeen years before Henry Perry opened Kansas City’s first commercial barbecue business. And in 1918 Charles Foreman, a local blacksmith, began selling barbecue, which his family has continued to do for nearly one hundred years at its Old Hickory restaurant right there in Owensboro. We’ve got no beef with Owensboro’s barbecue tradition, per se. It’s just that, well, in Owensboro, as in most of Kentucky, barbecue is all mutton, all the time. That’s right. Mutton. As in sheep meat. It is our contention that any place whose barbecue claim to fame is so narrowly defined, and is based on a single culinary category that is—to put it gamely—such an acquired taste, cannot rightly be called the Barbecue Capital of the World. Nevertheless, Kentucky barbecue is an important part of America’s culinary culture, which we here in Kansas City, the true Barbecue Capital of the World, should celebrate. And so we do.

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In the old days, back in the Kentucky hill country, burgoo used to be made with squirrel brains. Mmmm. Yum.

A STEW-PENDOUS SIDE DISH Kansas Citians are sometimes shocked to learn that there are side dishes that go quite nicely (maybe even better) with barbecue, other than potato salad, cole slaw, beans, or fries. One of the best of these is burgoo, Kentucky’s traditional barbecue accompaniment. The same Welsh immigrant sheep herders who introduced mutton into Kentucky’s barbecue tradition, in the late nineteenth century, also put burgoo—a hearty meat stew—on the region’s barbecue menu. There are, as you might imagine, as many variations of burgoo as there are of potato salad or barbecue beans. Here’s a basic version we tested, and thoroughly enjoyed, in the Oklahoma Joe’s kitchens. • 1 gallon cold water • 2 bay leaves • 1 lb. chicken, bone-in • 1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb • 2 tbsps. olive or vegetable oil • 2 cups yellow onion, finely chopped • 2 cups cabbage, finely chopped • 1 lb. Oklahoma Joe’s pulled pork • 6 large potatoes, peeled and diced • one 12 oz. can sweet corn

• 1/4 cup ketchup • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice • 1/4 cup cider vinegar • 2 tbsps., plus 2 tsps. Worcestershire sauce • one 10 3/4 oz can tomato purée • 2 tbsps. kosher salt (adjust to taste) • 2 tbsps. freshly ground black pepper (adjust to taste) • 1 tsp. ground cayenne (adjust to taste)

In a large stock pot, bring cold water to a boil. Add chicken and bay leaves. Cook chicken until done. Remove pot from heat. Remove chicken from water and cool on rack. Strain cooking water and reserve liquid for stock. When chicken is cooled, remove meat from bones and set aside. In a large skillet, sauté lamb in olive oil for about six minutes. Add lamb, onion, and cabbage, to the chicken stock, in the stock pot. Bring to boil. Add potatoes, corn, and ketchup. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Add chicken, pulled pork, lemon juice, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato purée, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for at least two hours. Stirring often, from the bottom, as stew thickens. Adjust seasonings to taste. 7 4


Kentucky Bourbon SPIRIT OF AMERICA Americans have been making whiskey almost as long as they’ve been making barbecue. They’re natural companions. After tending the barbecue pit all night and all day, a shot or two of whiskey is a fine way to celebrate when the meat is done. Just as a renaissance in craft and micro-brewing revitalized America’s beer industry over the last two decades, a similar revitalization in craft and micro-distilling is revolutionizing the nation’s whiskey culture. Distillers creating world-class whiskey, rye, vodka, and other ultra-premium spirits are opening across the country. However, Kentucky is, and will remain, America’s whiskey capital, as well as its heart and soul. Kentucky bourbon whiskey is made from corn and aged in oak barrels. It got its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky. Which in turn got its name from the French royal family. Royal is a good word to use when discussing Kentucky bourbon. It is the King of Whiskies. For additional “spiritual” enrichment visit www. or 8 4

Our good friend, Michael Smith, makes a mean whiskey cocktail. Michael, the creative and culinary powerhouse at the destination eateries Extra Virgin and his namesake restaurant, Michael Smith, over in the Crossroads Arts District, has a deep respect and affection for America’s regional food traditions, including its homegrown distilled spirits, which he showcases at his bar. “Our Manhattan is one ounce of Old Overholt Rye Whiskey and one ounce of Caparno Antica Vermouth, which we have barrel-aged together here inhouse,” Michael explains. “These are shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass and served with Italian candied cherries which we have soaked in brandy for two weeks. Killer. Seriously, this is a superior cocktail.”

HAGGIS It’s baaaad. There appears to be a connection between sheep and whiskey. Like Kentucky, Scotland is known both for production of whiskey and consumption of sheep. Scotch whiskey, especially its many and varied single malts, is recognized the world over for its excellence, richness, and character. Haggis, the Scots’ national dish; not so much. Haggis, which is no doubt named for the retching sound people make when they eat it, is made by stuffing a sheep’s stomach bag with chopped sheep lungs, liver, bladder, and heart, all mixed up with sheep suet, oatmeal, and onion. This revolting concoction is then boiled for four or five hours. You need to drink lots of whiskey after eating haggis to help you forget that you ate it.

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In form and function The Weber kettle is perfect The year is 1952. Twentyfive year-old Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, becomes Queen of England. The B-52 Stratofortress takes to the skies for the first time, as the Cold War gets colder. Down the street at the neighborhood tavern, they’re playing Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonk Blues” on the jukebox. Over in Lawrence, the Jayhawks clinched the NCAA men’s basketball championship with an 80-63 victory over St. John’s. And up in Chicago, George Stephen changed the world when he invented the kettle grill. George Stephen was a metal worker at a company that made lake buoys. He was also a frustrated backyard cook. As far as he was concerned, the commercial grills of the time were shallow and cheap. They cooked too hot and fell apart too soon. In a moment of (divine?) inspiration, George saw in his company’s large kettleshaped lake buoys something more than a big bobber. He cut one in two, from side-to-side, and—voila!—a bigger, better, backyard grill was born. 10 4

Admiring housewives check out George Stephen's equipment, circa 1953.

Perhaps it was the elegant utility of the thing, or its durability and quality craftsmanship, but Stephen’s grill— manufactured by Weber—was a hit and very soon three-legged black enamel kettles began appearing in backyards across the nation. Standing next to each grill was a man, with a spatula in one hand and tongs in the other. In the belly of this grill, charcoal briquettes glowed red hot. And over those coals, thick red steaks and fat juicy burgers sizzled and popped. Not since they discovered fire had so many men felt so powerful. Even though most of them were wearing aprons. The design of the Weber kettle is timeless; perfect for its purpose. Michael Kidwell, assistant professor of graphic design at the Kansas City Art Institute, says that the Weber grill is a harmonious union of form and function. “It is a modern, efficient form determined by its origin and the inventor’s desire to control flame. Smooth and streamlined, it owes its general spacecraft-like shape to its beginnings as a lake buoy.”

The original Weber kettle grill.

Dan Hathaway, manager of the Kansas City BBQ Store, agrees that the Weber kettle is a near flawless example of American design. “It’s so simple and so versatile at the same time. It’s hard to imagine backyard barbecue without it. When it comes down to it, the reason grilling is so popular in America is because of the Weber kettle.” The Weber kettle’s depth positions the fire just the right distance from the cooking grate. Its curve circulates heat and smoke up, over, and around the food being cooked. The adjustable vents on the bottom and the top allow for optimum management of cooking times and temperatures. “It’s a thing of beauty,” says Dan Hathaway. “Kansas City autumn weather is perfect for outdoor cooking. And the Weber kettle is the perfect outdoor cooker.”

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Cooking over an open fire is a passion for Charles d’Ablaing, Executive Chef at the Raphael Hotel on Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza. “Cooking with fire is something that has become a part of my life since I’ve lived in Kansas City,” he says. “And even more so since I married my wife, Silvia, who is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where cooking over an open flame is a very important and traditional part of the culinary culture there.” Here is one of Chef Charles’ favorite recipes. “It couldn’t be a more simple, straightforward, recipe,” he says. “But the combination of the ancho peppers, the garlic, and the fire results in something special.”

Stay sharp Know your knives The single most important tool in your kitchen is your knife. And the single most important thing you need to know about your knife is that the sharpest knife is the safest knife. Counterintuitive, but true. Dull knives will easily slip or slide off the surface of whatever food you may be trying to slice, dice, chop, peel, or pare. And when a knife slips it frequently intersects with fingers and, though it may be dull, it can still cut and cause serious injury. This bit of cutting edge advice comes from Spencer Lutes, V.P. of Operations at Ambrosi Brothers Cutlery. Spencer and his crew take care of all our cutlery here at Oklahoma Joe’s. These guys know knives, and have the scars (and tattoos) to prove it. We asked Spencer for some tips on knife maintenance. 1. Keep them sharp. See above.

Chef Charles d’Ablaing’s Ancho Grilled Chicken Wings • 10 pounds whole chicken wings • 3 dried ancho chili peppers, ground • 3 fresh garlic cloves, crushed and chopped • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper • 1½ tbsp. Kosher salt • 1 cup vegetable oil Combine and thoroughly mix all ingredients, except chicken wings, in a large mixing bowl. Add wings and toss to coat thoroughly with the ancho and garlic mixture. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least twelve hours. Grill over a medium charcoal fire (Weber kettle grills are perfect for this, of course) for twenty minutes, or until done, turning frequently. Serve with your favorite grilled veggies. The Kansas City BBQ Store offers a wide range of Weber products, including the classic kettle grill. More importantly, the staff at the Kansas City BBQ Store has the experience and expertise to help you choose the right grill or smoker for you and to get you started cooking on it. Check us out at 11946 Strang Line Road, Olathe, Kansas 66062, 913-782-5171, or 12 4

2. Use a sharpening steel regularly. “Most folks don’t really understand the function of this tool,” Spencer says. “It doesn’t actually sharpen your blade. What it does is maintain the edge. The sharp edge of a knife will bend over with use. And the steel will bring it back, straighten it up. You should use the steel on a knife if you’ve used it on a cutting board for extensive amount of time.”

Spencer Lutes

3. Use wood or plastic cutting boards. “Your cutting board needs to be softer than your knife blade,” says Spencer. “Stay away from glass, marble, or ceramic cutting boards. These will ruin your knife edge and dull your blade.” 4. Do not put your knives in the dishwasher. “Wash them by hand. Dishwashers use such extremely hot water that a knife blade will actually ‘reverse temper’, or soften under those temperatures. If you look at a knife edge under a magnifying glass after it’s been in a dishwasher you’d see hundreds of little pits. This is the effect of high temperatures and the strong chemicals in the dishwashing detergent. Together they eat away at your knife edge.” 13 4

Someone's in the Kitchen

Meet Steve Querrey NAME: Steve Querrey AGE: 53 POSITION: Director of Operations TENURE: Seven years Our man Steve Querrey has lived in Kansas City long enough that he could claim the place as his hometown if he wanted to and nobody would argue with him, but he’s originally from St. Louis, see, and the I-70 rivalry isn’t easily set aside, especially when it comes to baseball. “I’ll admit it,” he laughs. “I’m a die-hard Cardinals fan.” Steve’s St. Louis upbringing, however, has been a boon to us here at Oklahoma Joe’s, where he is responsible for oversight of restaurant operations at both our Kansas City, Kansas, and Olathe locations. Steve got his very first restaurant job at age fourteen at Slays Restaurant in St. Louis. “Most of what I know about hospitality I learned at Slays,” he says. “It was a great start in the business for me.” After graduating from the University of Missouri, Steve found his way to Kansas City, where he joined Gilbert Robinson, becoming general manager of Houlihans on the Plaza by age 25. Eventually, Steve joined the PB&J Restaurant Group, where he stayed for ten years, becoming managing partner. He then left to co-found and manage La Bodega, before joining Oklahoma Joe’s in 2004. “The pride I feel in running the best restaurant company in the Kansas City area is deeply satisfying,” he says. “There’s an absolute commitment from our owners here to quality and excellence. And I love helping managers learn how to lead; providing a fun, challenging work environment for our employees; and instilling pride.” When Steve’s not imparting hospitality wisdom to Oklahoma Joe’s staff, he may be found with his nose in a history book, playing piano, swimming, or playing tennis. Wanna work at Oklahoma Joe’s? Drop us a line at and

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tell us a bit about yourself. We’ll get back to you.

BBQ & A Rod Gray is boring. His words, not ours. We prefer to describe our pal Rod with words like nice, hardworking, level-headed, and normal. But in the sport of competition barbecue—which is overpopulated by larger-thanlife personalities and out-sized egos—nice and normal might indeed come across as boring. That said, there’s nothing boring about Rod Gray’s success as a barbecue cook. His team, Pellet Envy, has been one of the sport’s most formidable and consistently successful competitors over the last nine years. Pellet Envy has won forty-six Grand Championships, thirty Reserve Grand Champion trophies and more than eighty contest category wins. The team won Kansas City Barbeque Society Team of the Year in 2009, and since its first full competition season in 2002, has never been ranked lower than 13th in the country. Burnt Ends: How long have you been competing in barbecue contests, and what got you started? Rod Gray: It was a contest organized by Oklahoma Joe’s owner Jeff Stehney that got me started in barbecue. It was the first Kansas Speedway barbecue contest in July 2001. It was something like 103 degrees that day. But there were more than 200 barbecue teams there, and every one of them was having a ball, despite the sweltering heat. I saw so much camaraderie and good will, I decided right then and there that competition barbecue was something that I just had to be a part of. BE: What’s the secret of your success? RG: Because we teach classes that show exactly how we compete, we simply don’t have any secrets left. I’d like to think that we cook very consistently with an eye for detail. I’d also think that we’ve succeeded by cooking for the contest judges, instead of our personal preference. BE: What advice do you have for folks who might be considering competing in barbecue contests? RG: It’s always better to under smoke and overcook your meat. Too much smoke is never pleasant and overcooked beats undercooked every time. But mostly, have fun and don’t take it too seriously.

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— OKLAHOMA JOE'S BBQ 2 LOCATIONS — Original “Gas Station” Location 3002 West 47th Ave. Kansas City, Kansas 66103 913-722-3366 Monday-Thursday: 11 am - 8:30 pm Friday & Saturday: 11 am – 9:30 pm Closed Sundays

Olathe 11950 S. Strang Line Road Olathe, Kansas 66062 913-782-6858 Monday-Thursday: 11 am - 9 pm Friday & Saturday: 11 am – 10 pm Closed Sundays

WWW.OKLAHOMAJOESBBQ.COM Be our friend and fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter @OklahomaJoesBBQ

Jeff and Joy Stehney, Owners & Proprietors Steve Querrey, Director of Operations

BURNT ENDS was created, written, and edited by Doug Worgul, Oklahoma Joe’s Writer-in-Residence, AND Kelly Ludwig, Queen O’ Design,

Burnt Ends #5  

The house publication of Oklahoma Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que

Burnt Ends #5  

The house publication of Oklahoma Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que