Smoked bologna born in Oklahoma barbecue kitchens
BY NICOLE MARSHALL MIDDLETON World Scene Writer
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
5/30/12 at 5:35 AM
Have you ever had Oklahoma prime rib?
It's also known as barbecue bologna.
Cooks and connoisseurs say that once you try smoked bologna, you won't ever go back to eating it plain.
Oklahoma-style barbecue bologna is a popular pick at Keith Jimerson's restaurant, Elmer's, 4130 S. Peoria Ave.
"We cut it to order. People like it all different ways. Some people like it sliced thin, some thick, and some people like it cubed," Jimerson said.
They also served it on their famous Badwich, a sandwich filled with an assortment of barbecued meats.
Smoking bologna takes practice, he said.
"It you don't do it right, it puffs up from the heat and has a tendency to explode," Jimerson said. "You have to know how to cook it at the right temperature for the right amount of time. You don't want it to get too hot."
Elmer's starts with a 15-pound chub of bologna and cuts it into quarters before smoking it. The trick is to buy a good quality bologna. Jimerson uses John Morrell brand.
"We don't season it at all. We let the smoker do all of the work," he said.
Although cooks agree that barbecue bologna originated in Oklahoma, there is some dispute about the region.
"It is kind of an argument between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Some people claim that it started there, and some people claim that it started here," Jimerson said.
"I know it did start in Oklahoma; whether we did it first or they did it first, it doesn't really matter."
Jimerson said he thinks someone must have been experimenting with different meats and discovered that barbecued bologna tasted good.
Mike McMillan, owner of Mac's Barbeque restaurant in Skiatook, said he has heard that barbecuing bologna began in Tulsa. And he remembers eating it here as a child.
"When I was kid, we would come to Tulsa and all of the restaurants had bologna. I am guessing some the older restaurants started making it in the '50s and '60s," McMillan said.
Bologna is one of the most affordable meats, which may be one reason that cooks started smoking it, he said.
"I have people who come in the restaurant who are visiting from out of town, and they say they have never heard of it. I tell them that if you ever eat smoked bologna, you won't want to eat it any other way," McMillan said. "I know I don't. It tastes raw to me, even though I know it is not."
Although some people put a rub on the bologna before they cook it, McMillan said he does not season his bologna.
"The secret is buying a good quality bologna. Mine comes in 12-pound pieces, and I cut it in fourths. That way you get more smoke in it," McMillan said.
The trend has caught on, and now barbecued bologna can be found in restaurants across the country.
"Anymore, you are seeing barbecue bologna in different parts of the country," McMillan said, "but it is an Oklahoma thing and started in Tulsa as far as I know."
Bologna can be smoked with no seasoning at all, but the following recipe makes a tasty dish. It is often served on buns with coleslaw and barbecue sauce. If you have some time on the weekend and want to try something special, make the homemade slaw and buns from the recipes below. You will be glad that you did.
HICKORY SMOKED BOLOGNA
Whole or half beef bologna (3-6 pounds)
1. Cut slits in top of the bologna roll to allow proper seasoning. Coat with prepared mustard, soy sauce and brown sugar. Place in shallow pan opposite the hot coals in a 225-300 degree grill.
2. Add beer or water to bottom of pan for added moisture. Then add liquid to maintain moisture as required. Cook it "low and slow" for up to 4 hours.
3. Slice and then brown slices directly over coals. (optional) Serve with a quality roll and your favorite condiments.
- adapted from BBQpitboys.com
4 cups cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup carrot, shredded
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
3/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1. Mix cabbage and carrots in large bowl. In small bowl, mix remaining ingredients.
2. Pour over cabbage. Mix well and chill.
- adapted from Food.com
OKLAHOMA BARBECUE SAUCE
2 bottles barbecue sauce (hot or mild)
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 bottle liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon barbecue spice seasoning
1 medium green pepper, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Simmer all for 1 hour. If too thick, add a little water.
- adapted from Cooks.com
BEAUTIFUL BURGER BUNS
Makes 8 large buns
3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons butter
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
*For best results (a smooth,
slightly soft dough), use the
smaller amount of water in
summer (or in a humid environment),
the greater amount
in winter (or in a dry climate);
and something in between the
rest of the time.
3 tablespoons melted butter
1. Mix and knead all of the dough
ingredients — by hand, mixer,
or bread machine — to make a
soft, smooth dough.
2. Cover the dough, and let it rise
for 1 to 2 hours, or until it’s
nearly doubled in bulk.
3. Gently deflate the dough and
divide it into 8 pieces. Shape
each piece into a round ball;
flatten to about 3 inches
across. Place the buns on a
lightly greased or parchmentlined
baking sheet, cover, and
let rise for about an hour, until
4. Brush the buns with about half
of the melted butter.
5. Bake the buns in a preheated
375-degree oven for 15 to 18
minutes, until golden. Remove
them from the oven, and brush
with the remaining melted
butter. This will give the buns
a satiny, buttery crust.
6. Cool the buns on a rack.
- adapted from King Arthur Flour
Original Print Headline: Okie bologna
Nicole Marshall Middleton 918-581-8459
Oklahoma-style barbecue bologna is a popular pick at Elmer's at 4130 S. Peoria Ave. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Hickory smoked cube bologna is topped with barbecue sauce at Elmer's. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
These homemade buns make a fantastic barbecue bologna sandwich. NICOLE MARSHALL MIDDLETON / Tulsa World