Thursday, December 9, 2010

Leroy- Luther's Smokehouse

We’re all used to eating pork in the various, common ways we find it in restaurants. There are the “usual suspects”, such as barbeque, Mexican foods, bacon, sausage, ham, etc. I’ve found though, you don’t really find pork in a “to go” form like I did on a recent trip through southeast Kansas. While on this trip, I was lucky enough to buy a bag of, and subsequently eat, some authentic pork jerky! The jerky is called “Midnight Special”, and it’s one of the many types of jerky made at Luther’s Smokehouse in LeRoy, KS

Midnight or not, these are good.
Luther’s Smokehouse, a former locker plant and now a jerky plant, is owned and operated by Martin Luther, a past professional meat cutter, and his wife Shirlee. The smokehouse, which also serves as a restaurant and grocery store, is the only place to buy food in LeRoy, population 550. Needless to say, the store is very important to the region! I’ve been familiar with Luther’s Smokehouse for many years. I frequently stopped there during my college years to get his famous beef jerky. I never dreamed during that time that he would someday pull off making a delicious pork jerky!

Having never eaten pork jerky, or even seen it before, I thought I’d better try the stuff as soon as I saw it on the shelf. It turned out to be an excellent decision, as I found it to be really good! It's a “pan jerky”, meaning it is ground and formed into the desired jerky shape and size before it is cooked on a flat surface. It is described on the package as “cured and dried smoked pork shoulder”, so I wasn’t surprised that it had a smoky, salty taste like ham. It was a flavor that I found to pair very nicely with the dry jerky texture. 

Release your inner cowboy.
While I haven’t gotten a chance to try it, I know Mr. Luther has put another twist on the pork jerky theme with a product he calls “Cowboy Pocket Food”. It's pork jerky that is ground up with sweetened cranberries to make a pemmican-like snack.

Both types of pork jerky from Luther’s cost $7.00 for an 8 ounce package. If you can’t make it to the smokehouse, a lot of gas stations in southeast Kansas now carry a limited selection of Luther’s jerky too. If those options don’t work for you, a person can always order from the store online; Luther’s ships worldwide.

However, if possible, find a way to make your purchase in person. The reason being that Martin Luther takes pride not only in his meat preparation abilities, but in a good joke too. The store, inside and out, reflects his sense of humor much more than this article can, so schedule a trip to LeRoy, KS to try some pork jerky at one of the true treasures of rural Kansas.

In the spirit of jerky, the folks at the Kansas Pork Association thought that you may want to try your hand at some of your own homemade jerky fixin’s. We don’t expect it to be quite as good as Luther’s but if practice makes perfect. Here is your chance. 


The giveaway includes: (1) A NESCO Dehydrator & Jerky Maker. This brand of lean mean dehydrating machine touts itself as the world’s fastest and most even-drying dehydrator on the market. (2) A Bandiola pork spice pack. Bandiola prides itself on enhancing the simple pleasures of family, friends and food with a complete line of spices. To learn more about Bandiola, visit them here.

As always, a big thank you goes to our sponsors at the Kansas Pork Association for supporting us and providing these gifts to you all.

Answer the question below for a chance to win. We will randomly choose one person from the comments below on December 10 (yes, that's tomorrow) at 2 pm CST.  

Question: What cut of the hog do baby back ribs come from?

Good luck,


Friday, November 19, 2010

Manhattan- The Chef

The Chef from the road

Everyone once in a while, I run into a restaurant that specializes in breakfast.  More often then not, these places are known for being pretty good. In my opinion, The Chef, in Manhattan, Kansas is one of the very best! This quaint little place is tucked into a downtown building, in a side street, near the mall. If you are in the area, The Chef is worth finding!  During a recent visit with fellow blogger Mike, we were pleased to have great service, with a pleasant wait staff that quickly got us our orders. 

Meaty Beast

I ordered the breakfast burrito. I must warn you: do not order this meaty beast unless you come hungry, because it is huge! The delicious pork filled treat is big enough for two, but good enough that you won’t want to share! Mike ordered a pork chorizo burrito which also looked and smelled fantastic.  

Inside the Meaty Beast

I can’t say enough good things about this place, but I can say it ranks in my top 10 of all Kansas restaurants.

While we love breakfast, dinner is where this week’s giveaway fits the best. Answer the question below for a chance to win. We will randomly choose one person from the comments below on Saturday November 20 (yes, that's tomorrow) at 9 pm CST.  


The giveaway includes: (1) A Hamilton Beach Set & Forget QT Programmable Slow Cooker. This slow cooker offers a traditional slow cooker setting, a time program setting and a thermometer probe setting. The thermometer probe is a pretty neat plus for busy folks like us that like to make pork loin roasts. To use the probe you simply set it to a desired meat temperature, place the probe within the meat and allow it to cook. When the specified internal temperature of the meat is reached, the slow cooker automatically shifts to the “keep warm” setting, preventing overcooking. To see pork cooking times and temperatures see this Pork Basics chart.  (2) 2 oxo SoftWorks Silicone Oven Mitts.

Again, we thank the Kansas Pork Association for supporting us and providing these gifts to you guys.  

Question: Dr. Seuss’s "Green Eggs and Ham" recently celebrated a special anniversary. How many years ago did Dr. Seuss introduce us to "Green Eggs and Ham?"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Manhattan- Cox Brothers BBQ

Grain Storage? I think not.

On a recent business trip to Manhattan, KS, a grain storage bin caught my eye. Not because grain storage bins are unusual in Kansas, but because this one happened to be in a busy part of town and connected to a restaurant. This architecture is very similar what is commonly used by the franchise barbeque chain Bandana’s Bar-B-Q  located in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois. 

BBQ'in in Style.

To my surprise, the new place was not another Bandana’s chain, but a new locally owned Cox Brothers BBQ  which has re-opened after being absent from the Manhattan, Kansas restaurant scene for a few years. Cox Brothers features several styles of barbeque. You are sure to find one you like. With this in mind, you owe it to yourself to try this place when you are in Manhattan!

Cox Brothers Ribs are Rib-A-Licious.

I had the opportunity to eat here twice while in town. During my first visit, I thoroughly enjoyed the Big Memphis sandwich, featuring delicious pulled pork along with two other meats on a toasted bun. This was a good sandwich at a good price. I will certainly recommend this one! During my second visit, I tried the ribs, which were served up in traditional Kansas City BBQ style with bread, and pickles.  Cox Brothers offers four sauces and a variety of rubs for purchase along with a selection of shirts and caps. 

Speaking of caps, this place is a cap collectors dream. Hundreds of caps from countless locations decorate the ceiling. The friendly wait staff indicated that the owners, Bud and Bob Cox thought this would be a fun and unique decorating idea. They will gladly display your cap, should you choose to donate it to the collection.  

On another note, who wants some free stuff? Yeah, that’s right free. Below you will see this week’s giveaways provided by the Kansas Pork Association. Answer the question below for a chance to win. We will randomly choose one person from the comments below by 7:00 pm today.  Please make sure to provide your email so we can contact you for shipping reasons.

Free stuff= Good stuff

The giveaway is includes: (1) A Taylor Gourmet Wireless Thermometer. This is the perfect little gadget for the person on the go. Whether you’re chasing a few kids around the house or just really focusing on that NFL game, you can be sure to benefit from it. The thermometer includes a remote pager that notifies you with light, sound and vibration up to 200 ft. away from your kitchen. (2) A Architec EcoSmart Cutting Board. Use this cutting board to prep a great recipe like stir-fried pork.

Question: When roasting a large cuts of pork, like a pork roast, at what temperature should you remove the cut from the oven or grill to ensure that the meat is not overcooked?

- Until next time, Swine and dine!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Wichita- 2 Brothers BBQ

On a recent trip to Wichita, I decided to branch out and try some "non-Kansas City pork barbecue" to see how it compared with what I’m used to. I did a short search online and decided to try a place I read about called 2 Brothers BBQ. 2 Brothers BBQ actually has 4 locations in the area, with 3 of them being in Wichita, and the 4th one being in El Dorado. It is owned and run by brothers Mark and Matt Ryan and their parents Tom and Carole Ryan. The location I tried was their “West” location at Central and Tyler out in west Wichita.

I thought the place was a bit out of the ordinary when I walked in and saw smoked meats on a salad bar. I began to wonder if I was in the right place until I turned and saw the regular menu on the wall and felt a wave of relief! I went on to learn that the salad bar, known as the “Smokin Salad Bar”, offers smoked meats as salad toppings, which suddenly made the idea of eating salad sound a lot better!  

However, I had gone there to eat pork, and lots of it, so I looked at the menu and opted for the “2 meat dinner”. I chose pork ribs and pulled pork as my meats, and baked beans and potato wedges as my sides. Choosing ribs as one of the 2 meats added $0.99 to the total cost, but it was a decision I figured would be worth it. It turned out I was right. The ribs were delicious! They were tender and meaty, and served without sauce so you could choose which of the 3 sauces on the table you wanted to use. 

Amazing BBQ...probably close to you.

The pulled pork was very good as well. It might have been a bit salty for my taste, but that was more than made up for by how tender the meat was, and how little fat there was in it. The meat had a good hickory smoke flavor, and it paired really well with their “sweet and zesty” barbecue sauce. Had the ribs and pulled pork not been enough meat for me, I wouldn’t have needed to worry, as the baked beans have a lot of tasty smoked pork in them too; a pleasant surprise to say the least!

Being located in the Wichita suburbs for the most part, and offering smoked meats on a salad bar, 2 Brothers BBQ is certainly different from the classic Kansas City barbecue joints I’m used to, but it’s certainly worth your time if you’re in the area and craving some high-quality barbecued pork. With 4 locations to serve you, hopefully you’ll be able to find one and give it a try before long! 


P.S. We caught up with a few of the Kansas Pork Association folks over dinner not long ago. We talked them into sponsoring some giveaways to add a bit more fun to the blog. Today will be our first giveaway. We want to challenge you guys a bit, so the first person to answer this question gets the giveaway. 

This week's giveaway is a barbecue set. It has an apron with pockets for the fork, spatula, and tongs that come with in the carrying case. 

Just in time for more football.

Question: What's the origin of the word barbecue?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stockton - Shirley May’s Deli

When I first moved to western Kansas, I used to like to stop in at a little friendly mom and pop corner gas station in Stockton, Kansas. It was a nice change from the normal franchise convenience store atmosphere.   Like a lot of small town businesses, I stopped by one day, only to sadly discover that it was closed. Unfortunately, the building sat empty for quite a while.

This year, the old corner gas station was given new life as the  home of Shirley May’s Deli. The deli itself is not new, but the location is. Shirley May’s has long been associated with the grocery store up the street. The deli was originally located in the back corner of the store. The new location is certainly an improvement. There is ample parking and you no longer have to wait in the grocery check out line, just for a sandwich. 

Welcome to Shirley May's

My first impression was about how clean the place is. It may have once been an old gas station, but I think you could eat off the floors now. (Not that you would want to, but you could.)  My next impression was about the great selection. I counted nearly thirty varieties of cheese. The meat selection was any pork lovers dream.  Nearly thirty deli meat choices included sliced roasted pork, smoked ham, honey ham, black forest ham and maple ham. I didn’t even know there was maple ham! 

Shirley May's = Amazing ham and cheese selection.

The price of a sandwich was $4.99, which just barely beats one of those yellow franchise foot longs. The food however, beats a franchise deli foot long to no end. I had a roasted pork sandwich with colby-jack cheese on fresh potato bread. My wife had a black forest ham sandwich. Both sandwiches looked and tasted absolutely delicious. 

In addition to sandwiches, you can get a soft drink or cappuccino while you shop a selection of bbq rubs, spices and equipment. They also have a refrigerated case with salads so big they could be a complete meal on their own. Upon leaving the deli, I noticed a bbq smoker next to the front door.  How can you go wrong with a place like that?!

Until Next time, Swine and Dine!

- Chris

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hillsdale- Hillsdale Bank Bar-B-Q

View from the road. I wish I could give you a smell from the road.

The old cliché, “a diamond in the rough”, is a bit overused these days, but I can’t think of a better way to describe “Hillsdale Bank Bar-B-Q” in Hillsdale, KS. Nestled into the town’s old bank building, is one of the best kept secrets in the entire Kansas City area. The 20 minute drive south on Highway 169 from Olathe is definitely worth it for this barbeque!

While I was there, I tried a pork rib platter, with pork burnt ends as my second meat choice in the meal. The platter came with two sides of my choice plus an order of delicious hand-cut fries, and the obligatory bread slices and pickle too. My wife had a pulled pork sandwich with potato salad. 


The ribs were cooked about as well as they can get. They were meaty and tender and were served with just a hint of sauce on them to complement the rub. I sampled some of the pork from my wife’s sandwich and it passed all tests! It was tender, had a nice smoky flavor, and maintained moistness without compromising leanness.

The pork burnt ends were the star of the show, as far as I was concerned. They were fork tender and had all kinds of the “bark” on them that really delivers the deep smoke and rub flavor that a barbeque judge looks for.

None of the three of the meats required sauce to be tasty as far as I was concerned, but the Hillsdale Bank BBQ sauce, simply known as “The Sauce” still had a place at the table. It is a superb sauce that makes a great compliment to the outstanding quality and taste of the meat.
Take a look inside the bank with Wired BBQ and I am sure you will enjoy the indoor décor and exposed brick walls in the old building. The bank is both entertaining and interesting, really adding to the dining experience. When the meal was all said and done, it was certainly safe to say that the owners of Hillsdale Bank Bar-B-Q, Greg and Donna Beverlin, certainly know how to cook a pig! One could even say, you can bank on it! 


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Paola- The BBQ Shack

The BBQ Shack in Paola, KS.

At first glance inside “The BBQ Shack” in Paola, KS, it’s not hard to tell that owner Rick Schoenberger has a passion for “The Andy Griffith show”. At first smell however, you can tell that all the Mayberry décor is secondary to Rick’s enthusiasm for creating first class barbecue!

The BBQ Shack is the culmination of a dream that Rick, a former electronic industry worker, once had in the mid 1990’s. The dream started as a catering business in 1997 and then grew through several locations until it ended up at its present site just off of U.S. Highway 169 in Paola. Over time, The BBQ Shack has become a staple in the community, and as if achieving local fame was not enough, it can even boast that in 2007 it was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” TV show.

Foley's Rib Plate

On my latest visit there I had the “Foley’s Rib Plate”. The main attraction of the meal was a set of 3 huge pork ribs, with my second choice of meat on the plate being pork sausage. The customary 2 sides I chose were fries and beans. The meat simply fell off the bones on the ribs, yet they were not overcooked one bit. The sausage, was melt-in-your-mouth good, and got even better when I put a hint of the hot bbq sauce on it. If you’re lucky enough to make it to The BBQ Shack, consider trying the “Atomic Buffalo Turds” (cored jalepeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese and marinated water chestnuts) or the “Kerosene Cucumbers (extremely hot pickles) to go with your main dish! 

- Mike

Hays- Gella's Diner and LB Brewing Company

Van reads: This soccer-mom van is just a disguise. Its really clever, like a curly mustache and big glasses. We've got awesome food in here. We just don't want to get mobbed.

As my wife and I were on our way to a mid –August wedding at one of the 8 wonders of Kansas, the St. Fidelis Church, we decided to make a stop in Hays, Kansas for lunch. We picked a hip spot in downtown Hays called Gella’s Diner and LB Brewing Company.  You would expect to find a modern, trendy joint like this in Kansas City or Denver however; it is a nice surprise to have such a place out on the Kansas high plains. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is the only brewery between Manhattan, Kansas and the Denver, Colorado area.

There were plenty youthful and outgoing staff members on hand to serve the two dozen or so lunch time diners. To satisfy my pork craving, I ordered the pork pibil tacos. The tangy and juicy pork tacos were served with two sauces, both a green and red chili sauce. I preferred the red, which hinted of a chipotle sauce. The juicy pork made the hard-shell corn tacos a bit soggy, and with that in mind, I would have preferred them to have been served up in soft flour tortillas. Or better yet, put that flavorful pork on a fresh bun and serve it up as a Memphis style pulled pork sandwich!  Either way, pork tacos are certainly a rarity on most menus.

View from Chestnut Street.

I would encourage you to check out Gella’s Diner, located in the Historic Chestnut Street District for a taste, and atmosphere, of something different.

- Until next time...swine and dine! Chris

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

About the Authors

Chris's fiery love of pork was ignited by his father, a Texan with a taste for barbeque. Chris (not a Texan) was raised in the Kansas City area where good barbeque can be found almost on every corner. In fact, he grew up taking good pork for granted.  His fire only grew after moving to western Kansas where he learned the sad truth that good pork eating experiences are few and far between.  As an alumnus of Kansas State University with a degree in animal science, Chris knows a thing or two about his porcine pals.especially that they are delicious when slow cooked over a wood fire! For fun, Chris Petty works as a Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) certified barbeque judge. For pay, he works as a County Extension Agent. Chris has been married to his beautiful wife Cristina for over nine years and has a two year old son, Garrett who he hopes to pass on his passion for good times and good meat.

Mike spent his first 18 years in southeast Kansas on his family’s livestock and row crop farm. Growing up with beef cattle, his diet seemingly consisted of mostly home-raised beef, but to his surprise this would all change after he went away to college at K-State. After receiving a B.S. degree in Agronomy at KSU in 2005, he decided to stick around to get his Master’s in Agronomy too. Soon after that decision, he met his wife-to-be, Jan, but she quickly moved to Kansas City to pursue a graduate degree in Physical Therapy. As he made trips to Kansas City to kindle his relationship with Jan, a second relationship was budding for Mike, but this one was with a newfound discovery known as “Kansas City Barbecue”! He too moved to the Kansas City area after graduation in 2007 and he and Jan got married in 2009. They still live in the area, where he works as a crop adjuster, and she works as a Physical Therapist. Barbecue remains second only to Jan in Mike’s heart these days, as he eats his way through the lengthy list of barbecue restaurants in Kansas City.