Chow Town

January 9, 2014

When it comes to barbecue, don’t turn up your nose at pig snoot

Discussions of the origin of American barbecue often attribute it to methods perfected by plantation slaves in the antebellum South.

Chow Town

The daily dish on Kansas City's food and drink scene

Discussions of the origin of American barbecue often attribute it to methods perfected by plantation slaves in the antebellum South.

We’re told that slaves were given the tough undesirable meat scraps unworthy of the master’s table. Instead of discarding the meat, slaves were free to cook it for their own consumption.

Thus, chicken wings, pig ribs and other undesirable cuts were rendered tender and edible with slow smoking or grilling. When the general public discovered barbecue, demand for formerly undesirable meat cuts increased, along with the price.

Pig snoots were discards, but they haven’t yet entered the nation’s popular culinary mainstream. Kansas City’s nearest source of barbecue pig snoots is St. Louis, but don’t rule them out as a future Chow Town barbecue delight.

They have been here in the past — at Lee’s Hog Stand in Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1980s, for example — and they could return.

While today’s Chow Town is barren of barbecue pig snoots, we are not without options. We can get delicious boiled snoot sandwiches on a bun at the Tenderloin Grill on Southwest Boulevard. Local barbecue legends Jack Fiorella and Kansas City Baron of Barbecue Paul Kirk are known to stop by the Tenderloin Grill several times a year for a snoot fix.

The Tenderloin Grill snoot is nothing like the St. Louis classic snoot and rib tips. St. Louis pig snoots are minus the nostril, which is cut off before the remainder of the snoot is barbecued for up to five hours until crispy.

The texture and taste sensation is entirely different from boiled pig snoot. I have eaten several Tenderloin Grill snoot sandwiches all the way to the whiskers. It tastes like fatty bacon complemented with fresh onion, tomato, horseradish, mustard and a secret recipe hot sauce.

The first one I ate had a distinct

eau du barnyard

flavor accent. St. Louis-style barbecued pig snoot, mopped with a tomato base sauce, is crunchy with a pork rind/bacon flavor.

Chef Paul Kirk and I recently had the pleasure of enjoying a rib tip/pig snoot combo at Smoki O’s in St. Louis. Otis Walker, Jr., and his wife, Earlene, proprietors, serve at least 400 pounds a month and counting.

Sitting there at Smoki O’s within sight of the arch, munching on rib tips and pig snoot is reason enough to make a day trip to St. Louis. For convenience sake, however, I wish one of more of our Chow Town barbecue entrepreneurs would bring back barbecue pig snoots to Kansas City.

We noticed bags of “Doggie Treats” on a shelf behind the counter. Otis told us they are crispy pig nostrils. Instead of tossing them, he decided to cook them until crispy and sell them as doggie treats.

Chef Paul got a bag for his dog. On the way back to Kansas City he tried a few and found them to be quite tasty. I don’t know if any were left for the dog.

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 book is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”

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