Chow Town

Introducing a new barbecue classic: The Max

Updated: 2013-07-04T18:43:21Z

By ARDIE A. DAVIS

Beyond our beloved spareribs, brisket, burnt ends, chicken and sausage, Kansas City’s barbecue joints offer a variety of unusual menu items.

BB’s Louisiana Swampman Boudin Balls; Jon Russell’s Flower of the Flames ribs; RJ’s smoked jalapeno sausage in corn husks; Johnny’s smoked deep-fried chicken; Jack’s Denver lamb ribs; Oklahoma Joe’s Z-Man; Gate’s mutton; Arthur Bryant’s fresh-cut fries deep-fried in pure lard; Smokey’s barbecued spaghetti; Earl Quick’s hickory smoked/deep-fried barbecued baloney, to name a few.

You won’t find The Max in Kansas City. The Max is a marriage of two Southern classics in one wicked good sandwich: barbecued pulled pork and pimento cheese.

The only place you can get the real one is at The Happy Tomato Courtyard Café and BBQ in downtown Fernandina Beach, Florida, on Amelia Island.

Owner/Chef Richard Bolton and his friendly staff will be happy to serve you The Max. Its namesake is a customer named Max who asked for the combo several years ago.

My friend Fred Sauceman told me, “Pimento cheese on hamburgers is big in South Carolina.” I wonder if that’s where Max got the idea.

Landlocked Max-craving Kansas Citians who won’t be going to Amelia Island soon have some easy options. Buy prepared pimento cheese, get a pulled pork sandwich at Oklahoma Joe’s, top the meat with pimento cheese and enjoy.

Or get the Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich topped with spicy coleslaw, add pimento cheese and call it The Remus. Yum!

I opted for homestyle. KC Rib Doctor Guy Simpson says, “Everybody loves free barbecue,” but the raves of family, friends and neighbors over how good it was seemed sincere.

My version honors Susan Hurley, Director of Promotions & Special Events at the Amelia Island Convention & Tourist Bureau. All of her tips on where to eat and what to eat on the island, including The Max, were spot on.

Susan’s Homestyle BBQ Pulled Pork & Pimento Cheese Sliders

Makes at least 3 dozen sliders.

One 5-1/2 to 6 pound Boston Butt

1 pound of sharp cheddar cheese, grated

8 ounces of Monterrey Jack cheese, grated

2 cloves garlic minced

4 ounces chopped pimentos, drained

4 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise

3 dozen slider buns

To prepare the meat: Smoke pork at 250 to 275 degrees for 8 to 10 hours until pull-apart tender. I used soaked and drained pecan & apple wood chips with a hardwood charcoal/briquet combo.

To make homemade pimento cheese: Stir together sharp cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheeses, garlic, chopped pimentos, and mayonnaise in a large glass bowl.

To build the sliders: When your smoked butt has rested 45 minutes, remove the bone and pull the meat.

Put a heaping tablespoon of pimento cheese on the bottom of each slider bun, top the cheese with about two tablespoons of pulled pork and add the bun top.

For more about Amelia Island, put it in your search engine. If your late August calendar is open, don’t miss Amelia Island’s Kansas City Barbeque Society Sanctioned 4th Annual Great Southern Tailgate Cookoff on Aug. 23-24. What a great place for a barbecue contest.

Ardie Davis is an iconic figure in the barbecue community. He founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS’s Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on numerous food shows and writes for a variety of barbecue-related publications. He is also the author of a number of barbecue books, his most recent release “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”

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