BBQ is not a universal dish, but that happens to be great news for BBQ fans across the nation. There are dozens of famous variations of BBQ throughout the US—Kansas City, Memphis, the Carolinas—the list goes on. Memphis is known for their ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ rub barbecue, and pork ribs reign supreme in the region. South Carolina uses wood-smoked pork with a mustard based sauce that’s both sweet and sour. North Carolina is split by two different barbecue styles- East and West. East famously uses a simple sauce of vinegar and pepper and uses hard wood coals to smoke the meat, while its other half in the West prefers its red sauce of ketchup, vinegar or tomato. But no matter the style, there’s no denying how the versatility of pork deliciously lends itself to different regional BBQ tastes that create menu excitement and culinary creativity.
This month the spotlight is on the slow-smoked, dryrubbed Kansas City BBQ, served with the notorious mouthwatering tomato-molasses sauce. We turned to award-winning chef Rob Magee of Q39, a neighborhood restaurant in the heart of Kansas City, to learn how he delivers on his promise to take barbeque to the next level.
Can you provide any background into Kansas City style BBQ?
As everyone knows, KC has a deep history with BBQ. The challenge is combining the science of preparing and smoking challenging cuts of meat with a variety of rubs and sauces to produce meat that is both tender and flavorful. The interesting thing is that KC doesn’t just go with tried and true old favorites but branching out and trying new BBQ.
How do you perfect Kansas City style BBQ?
Gain experience through lots of practice, trying other’s BBQ and learn from them to perfect your own.
What cooking techniques do you use?
Off set cooking (smoker) and wood fired grill.
What is your favorite cut of pork to BBQ?
What’s your favorite ingredient?
How do you get your recipe inspiration?
Training, internet, books, and dining out, especially in other geographic areas.
What is your best selling dish?
BBQ combination or judges plate is our best seller. Guests choose their favorite 2 or 3 meats, coleslaw and baked beans or potato salad.
Any advice for non-BBQ chefs and operators looking to
incorporate a BBQ entree into their menu?
Keep it simple, fresh with vibrant flavors.
Smoked & Grilled Pork Belly Appetizer from Q39
Chef Rob Magee, Owner Q39
4 oz cooked pork belly
4 oz bean cassoulet
1 oz Q39 onion straws
Season fresh pork belly with Q39 pork rub and place in smoker at 225° and cook until internal meat temperature is 180°/tender. Cool down in refrigerator.
Cut pork belly across the grain into 4 or 5 oz portions. Place pork belly on grill and heat to 180° or greater. Coat with Q39 classic bbq sauce.
In serving bowl place bean cassoulet on bottom. Place pork belly on top of cassoulet. Garnish with Q39 spiced onion straws.
Note: Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat (like pork sausage) and white beans.
2 c dry navy beans
5 oz medium diced yellow onion
.2 oz chopped garlic
5 oz diced smoked Q39 sausage
(cut in half, then in 4 and slice ¼ inch thick)
1 tsp salt
1 c smoked pork stock
¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
14 oz diced tomatoes
¾ tsp fresh thyme leaves
Soak beans overnight then simmer in a pot of water for 1 hour 30 minutes: until tender.
Sauté onion with butter 4 minutes until clear. Add garlic 1 minute.
Add flour to make a roux.
Add everything but thyme and tomatoes.
Bring to a boil, adjust seasoning if needed.
Check consistency (may need to be thickened).
Add tomatoes and thyme.
1 thinly sliced yellow onion
1 c milk to soak onions (1 cup = 1 med onion)
1 tsp salt and pepper
Q39 Chili flavored flour:
4 c flour
¾ c chili seasoning
1.5 tbs salt
Slice onion and place in milk.
Dredge onion in seasoned flour and shake excess flour off on fryer basket.
Fry in peanut oil at 350° for approximately 45 seconds until golden brown and crisp.