James Beard Publication of the Year 2017

There’s No Such Thing as A Day With Too Much Barbecue

There’s No Such Thing as A Day With Too Much Barbecue

Pork Chops in Kansas City

A thin veil of smoky haze often lingers in the air over the Kansas City metropolitan area, accompanied by an aroma that makes our mouths water like Pavlov’s dogs, even after a lifetime of conditioning. It’s part of who we are, just like our numerous fountains and Hallmark Cards and cool jazz.

That smoke is from nearly 100 barbecue joints, each with smokers and piles of oak, hickory, and a few fruit woods in the back. And then there are probably ten times that many backyard smokers testing out their own blend of spices, rubs, sauces, and wood, here in one of the U.S.’ four distinct barbecue regions.

Kansas City is home to the Barbecue Hall of Fame and the American Royal Barbecue Contest, considered the World Series of Barbecue. The Kansas City Barbeque Society wrote the rules by which all other sanctioned barbecue contests in the U.S. are judged, and it’s the reason we like to spell it with a “q” rather than barbecue with a “c.”

It’s only natural that we would have barbecue for breakfast. And the best place for that is at our premiere bed and breakfast inn, Southmoreland on the Plaza.

Owners Mark Reichle and Nancy Miller are otherwise famous for their Pie Buffet on Thanksgiving night, just after Kansas Citians flip the switch at the Plaza lights, ushering in the holiday season.

But as soon as the weather starts to stabilize in April, Mark fires up the grill and fills it with smoked pork chops, French toast, and peaches along with a bourbon maple pecan sauce. The bourbon in the sauce is to tie in the fact that relatives of Elijah Craig (of Elijah Craig bourbon) once lived in the house.

I suppose it would be tacky to point out to Mark and Nancy that pork chops are not an official competition category in a KCBS-sanctioned barbecue contest. But that’s O.K. In Kansas City, we’ll smoke and grill just about anything.

So, I grabbed my picnic basket in the dining room to find all the essentials—placements, linen napkins, utensils, and juice glasses. Then I headed out to the courtyard with other guests where Nancy poured me a colorful strawberry mango frappe.

Mark started filling my plate. The pork chops have a molasses brine. Personally, I prefer a molasses base for my barbecue sauces, so this hit the spot for me, along with an extra shot of the Elijah Craig bourbon syrup. While the other guests and I chatted with Mark and Nancy, water bubbled over a rock waterfall and birdsong filled the courtyard.

Barbecue for breakfast. It’s a perfect way to start the day, especially in Kansas City.

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