Chow Town

Before cold sets in, take advantage of fall’s mild temps for tailgating, backyard grilling

Plated Man Cave Jalapeno & Cheddar turkey burger
Plated Man Cave Jalapeno & Cheddar turkey burger Special to The Star

Chow Town grillers and smokers engage in the pursuit of barbecue excellence all year long. We’re especially cranked up about it each spring with the advent of baseball season and in fall when football season kicks off.

The parking lots at The K and Arrowhead stadiums come to life with tailgate smoke, fire and bountiful barbecue feasts in a context of fan optimism and excitement about the prospect of winning seasons for the Royals and Chiefs.

Not a problem that Royals tailgating season came to an abrupt exciting end in the borough of Queens, N.Y., Sunday night. Kudos to our Royals for earning the World Series Crown!

There are four more Chiefs home game tailgate parties this season, ending Jan. 3. Meanwhile when the Chiefs play in Denver, San Diego, Oakland and Baltimore, those of us who stay home instead of tailgating at the away games will fire up our backyard grills and feast on barbecue bounty while watching the games on TV.

Chow Town is rich with tailgating and backyard barbecue resources. Our one-stop stores for cookers, tools, gadgets, seasonings, sauces, fuel, cookbooks and more—the Kansas City BBQ Store in Olathe or Smoke ’n’ Fire Bar-B-Que & Fire Place in Overland Park, for example — can fix you up with a barbecue cornucopia to fit your lifestyle and budget.

When your barbecue resources are in place, what are you going to cook? When I don’t have the time or mood to smoke spareribs for four to six hours, or pork butt for eight to 10 hours, or beef brisket for 12 to 16 hours, I opt for grilling brats, sausages, hot dogs, burgers, or — when the Royals or Chiefs are winning — Angus steaks.

If you don’t have a favorite go-to place for tailgating and backyard barbecue meats, try Bichelmeyer Meats, Werner’s, Broadway Butcher, Local Pig or your favorite local supermarket. At the latter, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a new “insanely good” selection of fresh grilling meats from Minnesota, branded as Man Cave Craft Meats.

Last summer I tried some free Man Cave samples at the Mission Hy-Vee and have since grilled almost every item in their product line. If your palate favors fiery foods, try their Sriracha flavor chicken sausages or the Angus burgers with Buffalo style seasoning or habanero and cheddar. My favorites are the turkey patties with jalapeno and cheddar, the turkey patties with garlic, the Angus patties with bacon and the barbecue and bacon Angus patties.

My neighbor Mike got excellent results with turkey and Angus patties, grilling in a Weber kettle over direct heat, covered, 350 degrees, for four minutes on one side, then flipped to the other side for a minute, covered, at same temperature. The result was juicy, flavorful burgers.

Take advantage of our waning weeks of fall to enjoy the remainder of tailgating and backyard barbecuing before it’s time to fire up the grill in cold weather.

Plan ahead note: Have you tasted barbecued alligator? Mark 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 14, on your calendar. Smoke ‘n’ Fire, at 8030 W. 151st St. in Overland Park, will sample alligator barbecued by Chef Paul Kirk in celebration of his recent Barbecue Hall of Fame induction. I hope to see you there.

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 releases are America’s Best BBQ (Revised Edition), with chef Paul Kirk, and Barbecue Lover’s Kansas City Style .