Posts Tagged ‘simply kc magazine’

january simply kc magazine column: kansas city’s bbq quintessence: burnt ends.

january simply kc magazine column: kansas city’s bbq quintessence: burnt ends.

January 6, 2012  |  Simply KC Magazine Column  |  2 Comments  |  Share  | 

Here’s my January column for Simply KC Magazine, an homage to BBQ and the burnt end.

Kansas City’s BBQ Quintessence: Burnt Ends

Burnt ends. Best thing on earth, right? But do you really know what they are and why they taste so good? Spoiler: it’s the fat. This month, I’m getting to the bottom of the burnt end mystery. To that end, I packed up and headed to All Slabbed Up BBQ in Leavenworth, KS to chat with pitmaster Charlie Brown about what it takes to make great burnt ends, why our restaurants in KC do it so well & how we can all improve our BBQ at home.

Burnt Ends
Generally speaking, burnt ends are hunks of beef brisket. That’s a bit oversimplified though…like calling Picasso a painter. The brisket most of us are familiar with, the one that’s vacuum-packed in the grocery store, is actually just a part of the brisket called the flat. It’s the leaner portion of the cut that’s best suited for slicing. The commercial whole packer briskets that are used by restaurants and BBQ competitors also have a fattier end called the point or deckle. To produce true burnt ends, the point of the brisket is removed from the flat after the initial cooking period and returned to the smoker for a few more hours. The fattier meat in the brisket’s point benefits from this extended cooking time and can stand up to copious amounts of the dark bark that develops on the exterior. After the additional cooking time, the point is removed from the smoker and cut into cubes, ideally with a portion of the bark on one side of each chunk. Xanadu.

Like so many of the best cuts of meat, burnt ends started out as a throwaway item. Pitmasters would collect the pieces of bark and fatty scraps that fell away as they sliced brisket and serve them to patrons waiting in line. Before long, it became apparent to these restaurant owners that they were giving away their hottest commodity. Burnt ends have since become Kansas City BBQ’s claim to fame. They are a limited quantity by definition, so often you’ll see BBQ restaurants where they’re only served on specific days or where they sell out early. Plan ahead.

All Slabbed Up
To hear Charlie Brown tell it, creating outstanding BBQ sounds simple. Start with quality meat. At All Slabbed Up that means fresh, never frozen Certified Angus Beef brisket and big meaty pork ribs and shoulders. Next, they rub them with a spice blend and toss them into a propane-fired smoker with some hunks of oak. Wait. It does sound simple, but I can tell you that there was nothing simple about the complex flavors I encountered while at All Slabbed Up. Judging by the 500 pounds of brisket and pork shoulders and 300 slabs of ribs they churn out every week, I’m not the only one who thinks they’re doing something right.

Charlie’s burnt ends were served just like I like them: large unsauced cubes with a good mix of bark and fat. They were excellent alongside their molasses-based sauce, a pleasing balance of smoky and sweet. We chatted a bit while waiting for the food to be served and he mentioned offhandedly that a lot of customers really like their beans. Right. This would be more accurate: All Slabbed Up’s Bunkhouse Baked Beans are the best I’ve tasted in the Kansas City area. THE BEST. The ribs are meaty and tender, barely clinging to the bone. The pulled pork is rich and succulent. Even the onion rings are special. This is destination BBQ. Head out there on a Thursday evening for dinner and stay for the live music. You won’t regret it.

Home BBQ
“Slow and low” is the barbecuer’s mantra, so it wasn’t a total surprise when Charlie’s number one recommendation to improve my home BBQ was slower and lower. That’s the biggest difference between what you get at a top notch BBQ restaurant and what you make at home: time. For years, Charlie got by at home on charcoal-fueled Weber “Bullet” Smokey Mountain Smokers (; $259 and up). He’s since moved on to the enhanced control of a wood pellet-fired Fast Eddy’s by Cookshack (; $3985 and up). That’s a serious piece of hardware, but you don’t need high tech equipment to produce pleasing BBQ at home. Purchase quality meat and be willing to make the time commitment required to apply low even heat for hours. After all, that’s part of the fun of BBQ.

All Slabbed Up BBQ
405 Muncie Rd.
Leavenworth, KS 66048

“A Man’s Perspective” appears monthly in Simply KC Magazine. You can view my archived columns here. If you have any ideas you’d like me to explore, let me know. I’d love to investigate and include them in an upcoming column.

my favorite posts of 2011.

December 31, 2011  |  Internet  |  No Comments  |  Share  | 

For my last post of 2011, I’d like to share the posts of which I’m most proud this year. No, these weren’t the most popular posts of 2011, but they’re the ones I wish had been. It was a great year. Thank you all for following along.

10. the case for naps.

My plea for mainstream adoption of naps. I genuinely enjoyed the article on napping men of power on The Art of Manliness. Very interesting reading.

9. don’t erase what matters.

There was a scary moment in 2011 when it seemed possible that funding for public radio and television would be erased. This was my heartfelt reaction to that possibility.

8. great: the louis c.k. special, louis on the b.s. report and louis in general.

I included this one because of the level of respect I have for Louis C.K., his work and the appreciation I have for his willingness to take a personal financial risk to restructure the existing model of how a television show or comedy special is created and distributed.

7. double feature.

My thoughts upon returning home on an afternoon in January when I decided it was a good idea to travel to the theater to watch Black Swan and True Grit in one sitting.

6. HALO on cbs evening news.

A very proud moment: Katie Couric does a piece on HALO for the CBS Evening News. It’s been such a pleasure to work with HALO over the years; seeing them grow and get exposure like this only adds to that joy.

5. parks and recreation pawnee rangers, screenshot tour.

This post originated on a whim to show some love to Parks & Recreation, but ended being a very fun exercise. It prompted Nic Franklin to comment, “Best thing you’ve ever posted”. Success.

4. the showbiz pizza place band: rock-afire explosion.

Just a nostalgia orgy. The opportunity to relive the Showbiz Pizza experience and to see the band playing current hits was a real treat.

3. high-quality bedding: don’t get fleeced by thread count.

A quick, informative guide to maximizing value when shopping for bedding. There’s a good chance this post will grow into a column feature sometime in the future.

2. october simply kc magazine column: the kansas city man’s guide to denim.

I’ve had a great time with my Simply KC column A Man’s Perspective. The October 2011 issue featuring Baldwin Denim and a brief primer on how to be an informed denim consumer has been my favorite thus far.

1. The New Orleans Series

I had an amazing few days in New Orleans this summer visiting my friend Sunny and went to great lengths to document the experience. If you care about food, don’t visit NOLA without reading these first. The opus is dinner in new orleans, but they all offer a nice glimpse into what The Crescent City has to offer.

MM: The LEGO VW stop motion post certainly belongs on this list, but since it qualified on the Most Popular Posts of 2011, I decided not to duplicate it here.

december simply kc magazine column: men's holiday guide.

december simply kc magazine column: men’s holiday guide.

December 6, 2011  |  Simply KC Magazine Column  |  6 Comments  |  Share  | 

Become the most beloved giver in your social circle after reading my December column for Simply KC Magazine: Men’s Holiday Gift Guide.

Men’s Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday shopping season is upon us. Let’s band together to combat Madison Avenue’s trite characterization of men as imbeciles in the gift department. Here are a few tips that help make my shopping responsibilities as painless as possible. I’ve also included a few items that belong on the discerning man’s wish list.

The largest leap forward in gift technology in recent years is Amazon’s addition of the Universal Wish List Button. This liberating piece of technology now makes it possible to add items from anywhere on the internet to your Amazon Wish List. I keep two lists: one public list for items I’d like to receive and one private list filled with gift ideas for others, collected throughout the year. It’s a simple tool that makes me a more thoughtful giver and helps anyone tasked with buying me a gift.

Under $50
Thermos Vacuum Insulated 18oz Stainless-Steel Hydration Bottle (; $17)
This is the most reliable vessel I’ve found to transport and dispense liquids. The double wall stainless vacuum insulation performs admirably and the opening mechanism’s locking ring provides enough peace of mind to throw it into my bag of electronics without fear of leakage. Its 2.5 inch cup holder-friendly diameter and one-handed flip top mechanism makes it the perfect way to enjoy a cup of coffee on your drive to work.

Baldwin Denim – The KC Wool Hat (Baldwin Denim,; $42)
Baldwin Denim’s KC hat has quickly become the first one I reach for when I head out the door. It’s a subtle way to rep the city without expressing specific allegiance to a team. Baldwin commissioned Ebbets Field Flannels to produce these, each one designed to match vintage MLB specifications and constructed with period-correct wool broadcloth. It’s rare that I don’t get asked about it, especially when traveling.

Chester Mox Slim Vertical Dogleg Wallet (; $44)
This wallet is the perfect marriage of a slim profile and enough room for up to 8 cards and cash. Each is American made, cut and sewn by hand from Horween’s Chromexcel leather and will develop a beautiful patina as it wears. Chester Mox also offers laser-etched personalization for $10 making these wallets a great custom gift idea or a stylish groomsman gift.

Under $100
Amazon Prime 1-year Subscription (; $79)
An Amazon Prime membership is a no-brainer if you order more than twice a year. In addition to free two-day shipping on all orders (no minimum purchase), you also receive access to Instant Video streaming (think Netflix) and to Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Look it up…free eBooks. It’s the kind of gift that makes the recipient think of you every time they see those wonderful words “FREE Two-Day Shipping” at checkout.

Amazon Kindle Touch (; $99)
If you’re planning to read long-form books on your e-reader, the Kindle’s E Ink display is still king. In addition to the massive Kindle library, you can also access free books from your local public library and from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library mentioned above. Save some money and get the $99 non-3G “With Special Offers” version. The instances you’ll need to download books immediately and won’t have WiFi are minimal and the ads only appear when you’re not reading, like a screensaver. It’s definitely worth the $90 savings versus the 3G ad-free version.

$150 & Up
Baldwin Denim – The Reed in Duck Canvas (Baldwin Denim,; $158)
It’s your favorite pair of jeans, transformed by heavy duty 12 ounce duck canvas. This is the garment I didn’t know I needed, then never took off once I got it. It’s a truly chameleonic item, pairing well with sneakers, boots or brogues.

Seiko SKX007K2 Diver’s Automatic Watch (MSRP $400; $163 at
I like the idea of a fine timepiece, but my sensible nature reminds me that I have a history of losing them. The Seiko Diver is the sharpest sub-$500 automatic wristwatch I’ve found. Even better, frequently sells this model for under $175, a price at which I can afford to lose it. It’s already happened once. After purchasing mine, I immediately popped off the band and replaced it with a nylon Maratac 22mm NATO strap (; $17).

Patagonia Piolet Jacket (; $299)
Everyone should own a trustworthy GORE-TEX shell. I like the Patagonia Piolet for its minimal branding and understated style. Its waterproof/breathable protection is versatile enough to keep you warm and dry in urban rainstorms, on a windy hiking trail or layered over a fleece on the ski slopes. Patagonia sells GORE-TEX performance shells ranging up to $599. The Piolet provides protection for a wide range of conditions at an entry-level price. I wore mine in a nasty KC deluge this week and was very pleased with the comfort it provided.

“A Man’s Perspective” appears monthly in Simply KC Magazine. You can view my archived columns here. If you have any ideas you’d like me to explore, let me know. I’d love to investigate and include them in an upcoming column.