• deborahreinhardt

Saint Louis BBQ Society member and judge Scott Watson uses this flavor bomb when making one of his favorite comfort foods.

man with barbecue grill and brush
Scott Watson gets ready to make barbecue magic happen.

Barbecue plays a big role in Missouri’s food culture, thanks in large part to Kansas City. This is where in the early 20th century Henry Perry set up the city’s first commercial barbecue stand, although community barbecues are documented as early as the 1860s. By the 1930s, more than 100 barbecue joints were clustered in the African-American neighborhood of 18th & Vine.

For more than 40 years, Kansas City has hosted the largest barbecue competition in the world—the American Royal World Series of Barbecue—and the Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctions more than 500 contests worldwide. In fact, Kansas City-style barbecue is one of four prominent barbecue styles in the entire country (the others being Carolina, Memphis, and Texas).

In truth, America’s barbecue culture can get a bit hazy, and not from all the smoke. There’s a lot of history, methods, sauces, and set-ups to wade through, but in the end, what you have is amazing smoked meat, and honestly, isn’t that all the matters?

smoked and shredded pork shoulder
A perfectly smoked pork shoulder will have the dark bark mixed in with tender meat.

This month’s home cook, Scott Watson, is a part of St. Louis’ barbecue story. Scott, who lives in Chesterfield, Missouri, is a member of the Saint Louis BBQ Society, and has also served as a contest judge. Needless to say, he knows his way around the smoker and grill. Many tips and techniques Scott picked up during Saint Louis BBQ Society meetings.

“I’ve learned a great deal from being a member and a judge for the Saint Louis BBQ Society,” Scott said. “Pre-COVID, we would hold our meetings at various barbecue restaurants in the St. Louis area, and I love to watch how the teams in a competition prepare their dishes when I get the opportunity.”

His barbecue buddies may have influenced Scott’s grill game, but his mom and her aunt taught Scott how to cook.

“I was 17 when I started to cook,” Scott said, who grew up in Pekin, Illinois, located near Peoria. “I learned over the years by helping in the kitchen. My mom was a great cook, and her aunt was a chef in a restaurant in Chicago (Henrici’s) and ran restaurants.”

Sunday dinners at his maternal grandparents’ home are strong memories for Scott.

“Aunts, uncles, cousins gathered around good German food or an excellent roast beef, as well as chicken and noodles made from scratch,” he said.

His paternal grandparents were Depression-era farmers.

“Grandma knew how to make duck in different ways; Grandpa would shoot them over the lake on their farm when there was no other meat,” he said.

Special pies—like gooseberry or rhubarb—also were on the family table, as well as a strawberry cake with strawberry icing that Scott’s great-aunt Mahala always made for his birthday.

“My wife, Marcy, has made (the cake) for many years since Aunt Mahala’s passing,” he said.

Scott noted that Marcy is a “great self-taught cook in her own right,” and they share the task of making meals, either during the week or on the weekend.

“If I am grilling or smoking meat, I plan to have it for the following week,” he said.

steaks with black grill marks
Beautiful grilled sirloin steaks by Scott.

Comfort food, for this barbecue aficionado includes pork steak, stuffed hamburgers, smoked pork shoulder, or Marcy’s chili. “It’s anything that I do not want to share, although I do,” he said.

Scott’s smoked pork shoulder is not spicy (in the heat sense), but “just seems to warm the soul.” He shares a recipe for Bonesmoker’s Pork Injection from Ray Lampe known as “Dr. BBQ.” Scott recommends covering the meat with plastic wrap and placing it in a large pan to avoid a mess. After injecting the meat with this mixture of fruit juices, vinegar, and spices, Scott discards the used plastic wrap, flips the shoulder over, and repeats the process. He’ll then use a dry rub on the meat before popping it into a smoker.

“My go to rub lately has been Heavy Smoke’s White Label,” he said. “Pork shoulders work best, in my opinion, on a smoker because as the time goes by, a beautiful bark forms on the surface of the meat, and it is packed with flavor. When the shoulder is pulled apart and shredded for service, that bark mixes in with the rest of the tender meat so maximum flavor is achieved.”

Smoking meat in a charcoal or gas grill can be a difficult challenge. The charcoal has to be maintained for a steady 225–250 degrees. “A gas grill may not work, but there are so many variations on grills today, a high-end grill might be able to pull it off.”

Scott also pointed out that his recipe wouldn’t work as a marinade. So, the lesson here: get the right tools for the optimum outcome. And smokers don’t have to break your budget; here’s a list, all under $100.

And for outdoor barbecue beginners, Scott recommends a good meat thermometer.

“I like the pen type for instant reads of meat temperatures,” he said. “Also, experiment with combinations of wood for a smoker. You can blend stronger woods like mesquite and hickory with pecan or oak.”

Scott, who recently retired from Guardian Life Insurance Company where he worked as a key account manager, said he and Marcy now cook for small groups of family or friends. Still, it can be a challenge to time the completion of the meat with the rest of the dinner.

But I think this backyard barbecue boss is up for the challenge.

14 views1 comment
  • deborahreinhardt

A warm, tangy dressing bathes tender pieces of potato for a favorite cookout side dish.

Warm German Potato Salad with grilled sausages are a taste of childhood.

The Dutchtown neighborhoo(potatoes) first came to Germroot veggie was given to pigs and other livestock. By the 16th century, potatoes grown in Germany were eaten by peasants or prisoners. It wasn’t until Frederick the Great in the mid-1700s ordered potatoes be widely cultivated due to failed wheat crops to feed his Prussian army, as well as his people.ple.le.e.ins, creating light brown orbs. Fotr Christmas, Mrs. Lohrman created curious tan bar cookies sweetened with honey and dried fruit.

My grandmother, Dorothy, and Mrs. Lohrman often visited across the chain-link fence, especially on wash days, when both women hung clothes in the fresh air to dry. They’d swap stories about their families and talk about recipes. I remember my grandmother’s indignation when Mrs. Lohrman told her some of the foods we ate—including potatoes—were fed to their animals in Germany.

In truth, when kartoffel (potatoes) first came to Germany, root veggie was given to pigs and other livestock. By the 16th century, potatoes were eaten by German peasants or prisoners. It wasn’t until Frederick the Great in the mid-1700s ordered potatoes be widely cultivated due to failed wheat crops to feed his Prussian army, as well as his people.

Today, potatoes are a staple of a German’s diet. The average person in Germany eats about 60 kilograms (about 132 pounds) of potatoes each year. Some of those potatoes are used in salad for German cookouts. Certainly favorite potato dishes are served on National Potato Day (Aug. 19), which also is observed in the United States. Both countries also boast a potato museum; ours is in Idaho (of course), Germany’s is located in Munich.

The earliest recipe for American potato salad dates to the mid-19th century and involved cooked potatoes dressed with oil, vinegar, and herbs. Culinary historians think German immigrants, who lived the sour-sweet combination, influenced early potato salads. Mayonnaise didn’t show up in American potato salad until the early 20th century.

Naturally, in Germany, it’s simply called kartoffelsalat (potato salad), just as it’s just a “cheese steak” in Philly. Actually, the bacon-vinegar dressing for potato salad is a Southern Germany thing; mayonnaise and chopped egg are seen in potato salads from the northern section of the country.

Both styles of potato salad were a part of our Dutchtown table, but when I taste the tangy Southern German-style salad, I’m transported to our neat, green backyard for a family cookout. In my mind’s eye, Dad is grilling bratwurst and this potato salad is among the side dishes that line our patio’s table.

This is comfort food for me; I don’t typically crave German potato salad, but when I eat it, the dish affects me in very good ways. Not only do I remember our family cookouts, but our entire Dutchtown neighborhood that included German butchers and bakers. Whenever I smell onions cooking in bacon fat, I salivate like Pavlov’s dog, because Mom and Grandma started practically every recipe with bacon and onion.

To make German Potato Salad, you’ll need both of those ingredients, plus:

  • 6 cups cooked potatoes

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • ½ cup celery

  • ⅔ cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1⅓ cups water

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • Salt and pepper

Grandma always peeled potatoes and cubed them (rather than sliced). She often used white or red potatoes, but I used Yukon Gold in this recipe. Just look for waxy (thin skins) rather than starchy potatoes (like Russets) because they hold up better in the salad. Although Grandma Bubba mixed the crisp bacon into the salad, I like to serve it on top.

I usually cook the potatoes in salted water (much like pasta) until they just tender. While the potatoes cook, I fry the bacon and make the dressing in a large skillet. When the potatoes are finished, I remove them with a spider ladle and add them to the skillet to coat. It’s nice to finish off with fresh parsley or dill.

Even Mrs. Lohrman couldn’t say no to this salad.

6 views0 comments
  • deborahreinhardt

Top a big burger with a fried lobster tail to make a meal Dad will always remember.

Inspired by a New Orleans po' boy, this giant burger is topped with a fried lobster tail.

Father’s Day is coming up (June 19), and this will be the 21st year without my dad. As a Golden Girls stan, I remember a scene from the episode when Blanche’s father, “Big Daddy,” dies. Blanche and Dorothy are at the cemetery when Blanche turns to her friend and solemnly declares, “I’m nobody’s little girl any more.”

I feel you, sister. I’ll bet a number of you do, as well.

I no longer celebrate Father’s Day, but while finding a suitable recipe to share with you (and it’s a doozy), I couldn’t help but think of my dad. If I may, I’d like to share a couple of stories here, but feel free to jump to the end if you just want the recipe.

Robert Reinhardt was born on Oct. 3, 1927, in St. Louis, Missouri, son of Dorothy and Lares Reinhardt. He was their only child. He went to Central High School, served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and worked at a few odd jobs upon coming home before finding a career in ink manufacturing. Dad was a color expert and often worked with big brands to match the signature colors when formulating inks. In fact, the red on the Budweiser beer can was known for a while in town as “Reiny Red.”

Dad also was an accomplished self-taught illustrator. He drew a comic strip for his Army platoon’s newsletter, although sadly those cherished clips have been lost to time. He also was a talented musician (a drummer) and played with various local jazz groups. He was a proud member of Local 2-197, the St. Louis chapter of the American Federation of Musicians, even after health reasons kept him from playing every weekend.

My dad, Bob, in a photo from the 1980s. He and my mom often took bus tours with their church friends, and he always packed a Cardinals cap.

Mom and Dad married in June 1955. He took great pride in our home; his lawn was always green, mowed, and trimmed. He grew outstanding roses and tended vegetable gardens in the backyard. We used the backyard as an outdoor room decades before HGTV made it a thing. I remember summer evenings around the patio table, listening to the Cardinals baseball game on the radio—Dad was a lifelong Cards fan; he played municipal ball as a young man—as the adults enjoyed the last pot of coffee for the day while I sipped a Whistle orange soda.

Dad was not stingy with hugs and affection, and as a small child, I remember him scooping me up when he’d come home from work (still see his aluminum lunch pail). Mom shared a story how he spanked me only once, a swat on the behind for running across the street in front of a car to see my friend, Kathy. And then he apologized to me while I cried on the side of my bed.

He made the poster for my class parade each year I attended Elliot Elementary School, and when I had the measles and couldn’t attend the annual school picnic at Chain of Rocks amusement park, guess who came home with a baby doll in a pink dress to cheer me up?

There was an inherent feeling that my dad always had my back. I mean honestly, my family life was like a 1960s sitcom! I’ve said this before—I had the ridiculous good fortune to be blessed with the family I had. It's heartbreaking to know there are children of all ages in this world who do not have good memories of a father (or perhaps no memories at all).

Dad and Mom in a photo from 1953 or 1954 (prior to getting married).

But it's a good bet that Sonora Smart Dodd saw her father as her champion. Dodd founded the first Father’s Day in Spoke, Washington, on June 19, 1910. Her father, a Civil War vet, William J. Smart, was a single parent who raised six kids.

By the 1920s, however, the observance had faded into obscurity until trade groups standing to benefit from the sale of Father’s Day gifts, picked up the cause again in the 1930s. Although President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 made a proclamation honoring fathers, it wasn’t until 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the national holiday into law.

This year, Americans are expected to spend $20.1 billion for Father’s Day, according to statista.com, compared to the $28 billion this year spent on Mother’s Day, (cnbc.com). Of course, you could get dad one of this year’s “hottest gifts” (Good Housekeeping), like the pint glasses that chill his beer or a beef jerky subscription. Or you could give perhaps the best gift: your time.

I know if my dad were still here, I’d have him over for a cookout, and we’d spend the day on my patio chatting, listening to the Cards, and enjoying good food. Dad knew his way around the grill; we were treated to his amazing barbecued ribs each July 4th, and he was known to throw some steaks on the gas grill while holding an umbrella in the rain.

Whatever I know about grilling outdoors, I picked up from Dad. And this recipe would be the perfect mashup for him. I’m sure we’d laugh about the story when he treated me to my first lobster tail for my 16th birthday. Omaha Steaks Executive Chef David Rose came up with this Fried Lobster Po’ Boy Burgers that no doubt will make your dad feel like a king for the day.

Now, I've been lucky enough to eat my way across Louisiana, but I've never seen a po' boy like this! The traditional po' boy usually features roast beef or fried seafood that's sandwiched between a lighter French bread (not the usual baguette). The po' boy's origins go back to the 1920s and brothers Benny and Clovis Martin, streetcar conductors and proprietors of a French Market sandwich and coffee stand.

This recipe—inspired by a New Orleans po' boy—will make two half-pound burgers each topped with a 5-ounce lobster tail. If you need to feed more than two people, you can either double the recipe and still go big or go home, or I think you could easily make quarter-pound burgers and top with smaller portions of the lobster.

If you have a story to share about your dad, I’d love to hear it; just drop a comment below. Those who plan to celebrate Father’s Day with your dad, what ideas do you have for him this Father's Day?

3 views0 comments