Chow Town

Smoke, barbecue sauce transforms baloney into a ‘poor man’s’ steak

Baloney, the King Kong of hot dogs, is a noun and a verb. You can eat it, talk it or hear it.

Baloney is delicious, barbecued or not. Try it several ways and decide how you like it best.

Sandwich a thick round slice with mayo or mustard, a slice of Vidalia onion and a slice of homegrown tomato between two slices of your favorite bread.

Or fry a thick slice of baloney in a cast iron skillet and top it with sauteed onions and a fried egg, with salsa or hot sauce.

I like it both ways, but my favorite is barbecued baloney. A kiss of smoke and a touch of barbecue sauce transforms baloney into a “poor man’s steak” that doesn’t make you feel wanting.

Barbecue baloney is cheap, whether you feast on it in a barbecue joint or prepare it at home. You’ll easily find it in Texas and Oklahoma barbecue joints; less easily elsewhere.

I’ve had memorable moments with barbecue baloney at Ozzie’s on Monkey Island, Oklahoma; Mac’s in Skiatook, Oklahoma; Corky’s in Memphis; and Earl Quick’s in Kansas City, to name a few.

Since baloney is fully cooked, why barbecue it? Because smoke cranks it up to a whole new level of good eating.

Add a squiggle of your favorite barbecue sauce, a side of barbecue beans, a side of coleslaw and a frosty local craft brew, and you have one memorable meal.

I like to slap the beans and coleslaw atop the baloney, with a slice of bread underneath, and eat it as an open face sandwich.

So how do you barbecue baloney? Start with about three pounds of unsliced baloney. If you don’t find it in the meat section of your supermarket, try the deli. These instructions are for a three pound chub. If you have to use ring baloney or a three pound chunk from a deli, adjust these instructions accordingly.

In a kettle cooker, put your hot coals on one side to avoid cooking the baloney directly over the hot coals.

Remove the paper encasement from the baloney and place the baloney on the grill opposite the hot coals. Sprinkle 2 cups of water-soaked and drained pecan, hickory or apple chips on the coals.

Put the lid on the kettle and let the baloney smoke slow and low — 110 degrees to no higher than 125 degrees — for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Monitor the temperature, as too much heat will burst your baloney. That’s not a disaster, but it makes a better presentation if it doesn’t burst. Since baloney is a finely ground pre-cooked sausage, you’re barbecuing for flavor, not doneness.

Slice it 1/4 –inch to 1-inch for serving. Some cooks like to fry each slice before serving.

You’ve heard the expression, “That’s a bunch of baloney!” We’ll tackle that next week.

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.”