Biting into a slab of ribs can make you feel like you're at the top of the food chain or the bottom of a delicious pile of meat. Savor every bite with this Groupon.
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- $85 for one VIP weekend pass to the festival on June 28–29 ($175 value)
- $165 for two VIP weekend passes to the festival on June 28–29 ($350 value)
Kansas City–Style Barbecue: Sweet and Spicy
Debate over the true capital of barbecue has raged for years. Learn more about Kansas City’s claim to the thrown with Groupon’s look at KC-style barbecue.
Kansas City’s barbecue artists proudly make everything in-house. So popular have the signature flavors become, that more than any other region, Kansas City–style barbecue sauce has found its way into bottles. That’s no surprise. Whereas Texas and Carolina sauces rely on a bracing mix of vinegar and hot peppers, Kansas City’s signature thick, dark-crimson nectar is an immediate crowd pleaser. Molasses adds both sweetness and body to a smoky, slightly spicy tomato base. In eateries around the City of Fountains, this smooth and sticky blend is either applied during the last 5–10 minutes of the smoking process or served alongside the meat at the table so that diners can ladle on however much they like or lap it up like kittens.
Even before it’s sauced, Kansas City barbecue is intensely flavorful. The meat is first rubbed with a blend of dry spices and, sometimes, a little sugar to create a caramelized outer crust. Then, it’s slow-smoked over low-burning wood (usually hickory) for as much as 18 hours. When beef brisket is the protein at hand, this process results in a beloved byproduct: burnt ends, the charred tips that are almost as much fat and flavor rub as they are meat. These crisp little bits are often added to baked beans, if they’re not pureed and served in a sippy cup.
It’s not just beef that gets this loving treatment, though. Another defining feature of Kansas City barbecue is the variety of proteins used: pork, beef, chicken, turkey, mutton, and even fish. Perhaps that’s because in the early 1900s, Kansas City boasted one of the world’s largest stockyards (second only to the Union Stockyards in Chicago). That’s when the city began its rise to carnivorous acclaim. In a streetcar barn at 19th and Highland, Henry Perry slow-cooked ribs over an open fire pit, wrapped them in newspaper, and sold them for 25 cents a slab. As his success mounted, Perry trained a number of employees in his signature cooking style—including Arthur Pinkard and Charlie Bryant, founders of restaurants that remain community staples today. Today, Kansas City boasts more than 100 barbecue joints and hosts one of the world’s largest competitions, the American Royal World Series of Barbecue, every October.
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