We have had less time then expected on our cross country crawl for the finer things in life. Instead of leisurely meals, we found ourselves eating cold cuts at 75 mph while dodging semi's that seem to have an urgent wish to cuddle up beside us. It was on the third day of this quasi existence that we decided it was time for a proper meal. One where we could sit down at the same time and not worry about our cruising speed. We settled on BBQ and decided that it was worth detouring off I-80.
This is how we found some AMAZING BBQ. Big Mouthz BBQ is tucked inside an unassuming Irish bar called Kilkenny in downtown Davenport, in the lovely (humid) state of Iowa. I am not sure what drove us to find BBQ in a state not particularly well known for the cuisine, but I consider us lucky for being none the wiser.
Starving and ambitious, we ordered more then our fair share of food. The dry rubbed, slow smoked ribs were textbook perfect. Besides ribs, we also got: made to order Mac and Cheese, spicy baked beans, tater tots, Smoked Meatloaf sandwich (you read that right, and it is delicious) as well as cold slaw. Big Mouthz is owned and operated by Steve Stegner, a barrel chested, good natured linebacker of a man who confessed to running his own flooring business but not to any specific sports affiliation. As I shoveled ribs into myself almost faster then I could chew, I asked Steve how he made the meat so tender. It was then that he got into the rules and nuances of professional BBQ'ing.
For example, did you know that if your ribs fall off the bone, that it is considered a failure? Rib bones should release from the meat evenly with a twist of the wrist. At that moment, I was grateful that I still had a rib left to test this on. I grabbed the dry bone and rotated it, like turning a key in a lock. The bone slid out clean as could be but the meat stayed taut. Although Steve has been encouraged by many to join the BBQ competition circuit, he has chosen to keep away from the limelight so he can focus on what he loves, cooking. He can be found manning the pit late night for the drunk college kids and if you are lucky, you too.