I have no idea how much of this stuff is available outside of St. Louis, and I don’t normally write about what I ate for dinner because it bores me to tears when other people do it, but an idea came to me as I walked down the aisles at the local grocery store, and I think it’s a pretty good one.
John Goodman once said in a Saturday Night Live skit that there are three secrets to great barbecue: You need meat, bread, and sauce. He was right.The meat is salsiccia. I have no idea if this stuff is widely available, or if, like toasted ravioli and pork steaks, it’s a St. Louis thing. Basically it’s an Italian sausage, but the spices are a bit different. The Gatermanns introduced me to it, and they’ve always just cooked them like bratwursts.
The bread, well, was Healthy Choice whole-wheat hot dog buns. Nothing too special about that. Next time I’ll probably go to McArthur’s Bakery and pick up something. St. Louis has tons and tons of great bakeries–it’s as easy to find great bread in St. Louis as it is to find great barbecue in Kansas City. Ahem.
In Kansas City, the bread gets third billing. I think Gates serves the majority of its sandwiches on plain old Wonder Bread. That’s the main criticism I have of Gates. John Goodman was being sarcastic, but the right bread can steal the show.
Good bread from St. Louis is available nationally. The Panera Bread chain of sandwich shop/bakery/coffeehouse originated here in St. Louis.
And the sauce. I picked up Gates mild BBQ sauce. Gates is possibly the most famous of the Kansas City BBQ chains (and keep in mind that for something from Kansas City to have any market in St. Louis, there has to be something special about it), and it’s known for heat. Rather than calling their sauces mild, regular and spicy, they really probably should call them hot, hotter, and hottest.
I don’t know if Gates makes its sauce available nationally or not. If not, the KC Masterpiece brand really was developed in Kansas City, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But Gates has been around longer, and I was feeling traditional. And Gates, as far as BBQ sauces go, is very low in sugar.
Slather a fairly generous amount of Gates on the salsiccias, grill or broil them, then serve on the best bread you can find, and I think you’ve got something special. Especially considering the amount of effort that goes into it. We’re talking five minutes’ prep time and maybe 30 minutes’ cooking time.
It ain’t health food, but hey, we need to treat ourselves every once in a while.