Eat ’em up: Smoke Some Au-Burnt Ends Mark and Erik, Mark Crouser and Erik Pollom September 16, 2014 Eat 'em Up, Features Game Weeks on The Salute September football carries with it the last rites of summer and the first cool breath of fall. It’s the time of year I look forward to the entire rest of the year. When it’s not fall, I wish it was fall. When there’s not smoke spiraling from the grill, a chill in the air and football being played, I wish there were. And to accompany the season is the best beer and food of the year. On this point, there’s really not much room for debate. You don’t see blogs for the best springtime foods, do you? Home to Auburn University, Alabama has a long and distinguished history of great barbeque. Places like Dreamland Bar-B-Q in Tuscaloosa and Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur are long beloved for their unique take on the delicacy. Using their seasoned combination of vinegar, hickory, pork, fire and smoke, they meld these forces to highlight the Southern barbeque belt. Here in Kansas City, joints and restaurants on either side of the state line are well-known to many, with seemingly everyone having their own personal favorites. But there’s little disagreement amongst locals that there is no finer barbeque than what’s found right here in cowtown. It’s the kind that fills the nose, broadens the smile and lifts the spirit. With each visit to enjoy good barbeque, I threaten to abstain from washing my hands for days just so I can continue enjoying the aromas of sauce and smoke lingering on my fingers. With that in mind comes the inspiration for this week’s tailgate. If you know Kansas City barbeque, you’ve been to Smokin’ Guns BBQ in North Kansas City. If not, it’s worth the trip for the burnt ends alone. Off the radar for many, this smoke-infused hideaway is as good as any in the area. Smoky, fatty, tender and wonderfully seasoned, these are the burnt ends you take out-of-towners to enjoy. Or, if you prefer, these are the burnt ends you keep secret for yourself. Either way, just make sure your taste buds are along for the ride. Trager Grill (view on Amazon) In preparation for smoking the Tigers, I’m planning to smoke some beef of my own and attempt to recreate what Smokin’ Guns does, using their recipe. For the smoker, I’m using a Traeger Wood Pellet Grill, which uses wood pellets to create consistent heat and smoke, an ideal environment for burnt ends (“If you have the means, I highly suggest picking one up,” – Ferris Bueller). There’s a good chance this will turn into a day-long event, starting with a cup of coffee and lighting the smoker Wednesday morning before the game, then continuing through the day. Once off the smoker, I’ll plan to give it a rest on the counter for a bit and then chunking it up into a foil pan, retaining any juices possible in the pan . They’ll then go into the fridge overnight and then into a cooler for travel to Manhattan. Once on the lot, we’ll then fire up a grill on low heat – be careful not to get the grill too hot, as the burnt ends will easily dry out. I’d suggest building your coals like normal, but then ring the outside of the grill with them, leaving the center of the grill to remain cooler. Add the meat still in the foil back over the coals. To know when the meat is back to hot and ready to enjoy, taste test liberally. For me, serving burnt ends and covering them with a bun or an absurd amount of sauce defeats the purpose. Sauce lightly if you have to, but otherwise, let your hard work (not to mention meat and smoke) speak for itself. On the side, I like a dish that counters the burnt ends with something sweet, tart and crunchy – it’s what many barbeque joints attempt with their slaw, but often fail by delivering only a pile of second-thought cabbage slop. This fall-inspired Green Apple Slaw does the trick though (and yes, that’s apple pie spice in the ingredient list – if you don’t have that, substitute cinnamon). Because it’s easy to make, at least a little of the time you spend making the burnt ends can be made up here. And for the beer, if looking for a local beer that would pair, try the malty and sweet Pub Ale from Tallgrass. For a good seasonal, there are few others that illicit such a strong and positive response each fall as Boulevard Brewing Company’s Bob’s ‘47 Oktoberfest. A malty and lightly-hopped welcome to fall, I thought this beer would be great to complement the caramelization of the sugars in the rub. Another favorite of mine, while not marketed as an Oktoberfest, is Great Divide’s Hoss Rye Lager. It’s the same Marzen style, but with a unique and mildly spicy rye addition. These last two are a tribute to the great lagers brewed in Germany, celebrating the season – for us, that season is one of firing up the grill, enjoying a few cold ones and cheering on the Cats. Let’s go smoke Auburn. See you on the lot.