I respect a place that dares to offer competitors’ barbecue sauces and invites you to bring your own.
Pitmasters and barbecue aficionados will argue forever about whether good barbecue is about the sauce or the meat. Some say anyone can barbecue meat: it’s the sauce that makes the difference. Others say the meat should be so good that it needs no sauce.
It needn’t be either/or, although I beg to differ with those who say anyone can barbecue meat. Were that true, all barbecue would be tender, never tough and kissed with smoke instead of no smoke flavor at all; instead the meat flavor is sometimes overpowered and bitter from excess smoke.
My advice has always been to use sauce in moderation and if the sauce doesn’t complement the flavor of the meat, don’t use it at all. There are many sauces, homemade and commercially available, that do a great job of complementing barbecue meat. Tastes vary, but I think the mustard sauce at Brobecks Barbecue in Overland Park is a perfect complement to pulled pork.
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I tried the beef brisket, pork ribs and sausage without sauce. They are tender, with a lingering kiss of smoke. Although I liked it naked, you can do no harm by adding a touch of Brobecks tomato base/molasses sauce or a touch of KC Masterpiece Original, available on the premises.
When our server brought us a sample of Brobecks ham salad, I thought, “Oh no. This is going to taste like Aunt Minnie’s ham salad at the annual Hamm family reunion in Stillwater, Okla., years ago.” I changed the name to protect the guilty. I just never had a take with that ham salad.
To my surprise, I could make a meal on Brobecks ham salad. The combination of smoked ham, smoked turkey, relish and other seasonings was so good we ordered a pint to go. Brobecks regular customers have already ordered theirs for the holidays. If you try it and like it, it may not be too late to put in your holiday order.
Brobecks fries — crispy outside and melt-in-your-mouth inside — with a fresh, not greasy, flavor, are some of the best in Chow Town. Likewise the extra-cheesy corn nuggets.
Brobecks has been on my “must-try” list for years. I’m glad to have finally tried it. I’ll be back for more pulled pork with mustard sauce, ham salad and burnt ends. More fries and cheesy corn nuggets too.
Sauce or no sauce, Brobecks does not disappoint.
Ardie Davis 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 Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. His most recent release is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”