After a study to find the Top Ten Grilling Cities in the America, we at Napoleon were surprised that only one of the cities known for their particular style of grilling made the list. In this article we focus on one of the best-known grilling cities and styles in the world– Kansas City style from Kansas City Missouri.
In case you were wondering. These cities complete the list of 'America's Top Ten Grilling Hot Spots':
- Atlanta, Ga.
- Washington, D.C.
- Miami, Fl.
- Kansas City, Mo.
- Minneapolis, Mn.
- Boston, Ma.
- Cincinnati, Oh.
- San Francisco, Ca.
- Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Tampa, Fl.
Kansas City Mo.
Kansas City is considered the barbecue capital of the world, and with over 100 barbecue restaurants filling the streets with the sweet smell of hickory smoke, we can see why. Kansas isn’t just home to more barbecue restaurants per square inch than any other city. It also plays host to the American Royal – World Series of Barbecue; a four-day whirlwind competition for the most elite competitive barbecue teams in the world. And boasts a world-recognized association, the KCBS– Kansas City Barbecue Society, with over 20,000 worldwide members. These elements cement Kansas City’s place in the grilling and barbecue elite, as well as one of THE barbecue hubs of the world. Not to mention the Top Ten Grilling Cities of America.
“Recognizing barbeque as America's Cuisine, the mission of the Kansas City Barbeque Society is to celebrate, teach, preserve and promote barbeque as a culinary technique, sport and art form.”
– KSBS Mission Statement
What Is Kansas City Style?
What does Kansas City barbecue have that makes it so famous? Being a meatpacking hub for nearly 100 years meant that there was nothing off-limits when it came to barbecue. Easy access to everything from beef and pork to lamb, chicken and turkey, allowed for no piece of meat to be un-cooked. For authentic Kansas City Style, everything must be lovingly dry rubbed and done low and slow over a fire or coals of hickory wood. It is served sliced, never shredded or chopped. What makes Kansas City style barbecue truly stand out from the pack is the combination - no marriage - of meat with thick, sweet (sometimes spicy) sauces. Sauce is considered as important as the meat being served. With bases of molasses, ketchup, and/or vinegar these sauces are the flavors that people the world over immediately think of when discussing barbecue cuisine.
If you try nothing else when sampling Kansas City style barbecue, you must experience burnt ends, and beans. Burnt ends are the crunchy bits off the thin ends of briskets, pork, hams, and other smoked meats. Used to be thought of as useless, burnt ends were often thrown out, or given away, until someone realized what barbecue gold they truly were. Now, burnt ends are served as appetizers, soaked in sauce and served as a sandwich, or just about anything else you can think of to do with them. The beans aren’t just a side either. Not in Kansas City anyway. They are smoked too. Usually cooked under the meat in the pit so that the drippings will rain flavor down on the beans, infusing them with meaty deliciousness. When serving beans, a good pit master will sometimes toss in some brisket or if they’re really nice, burnt ends.
A Taste Of History
Historically the entirety of Kansas City style of barbecue can be traced back to Henry Perry, a man from the Memphis area, who decided to open a smoked meat stand in the garment district of Kansas City in 1908. Meats included the typical beef and ribs, but he also served possum, raccoon, and even woodchuck, all coated in a sauce that was harsh and peppery, nothing like the sauce we know today.
In 1940 Charlie Bryant bought the restaurant after Perry’s passing. He then sold it to his own brother, Arthur who changed the restaurant’s name to Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque. Arthur can be credited with adding molasses to Perry’s peppery sauce and bringing about the flavor sensation that we know and love today. You can still visit Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque and order a good meal. If you are a barbecue aficionado, this location definitely deserves a visit.
You Gotta Eat Here
Of coarse you are now planning a trip to visit Kansas City Missouri. Especially after devouring the information in this article. Naturally you will make a pilgrimage to Arthur Bryant’s. Other great places to eat are Joe’s KC, where they have all of the barbecue you could ever want, but they only serve burnt ends on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, so get there early. You can also visit Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue who have taken Kansas City style and elevated it to a fine dining experience. They’ve done what no one else in Kansas City has done before. If you want that authentic KC barbecue experience, but live nowhere near Kansas City, you can order it online and have it shipped to your home, anywhere across the continental United States. This is a huge first for barbecue cuisine, maybe even the food service industry.
(Firoella’s is just steps away from Country Club Shopping District pictured here)
Whether you are a barbecue beginner or King of the ‘Que, one thing is for certain, Kansas City style is one of the founding principals, and one of the most influential, of barbecued cuisine. This holds especially true for the locals that barbecue, compete in the American Royal, or are registered members of the KCBS. We want to know what style of barbecue influences the meals you make?