To say that I love BBQ would be like saying Andre the Giant was kinda tall. An understatement as huge as the man himself. Any chance I get, I talk to pit masters from all over and try to experience as much regional BBQ from across the United States as I can.
One of my first opportunities to try Kansas City BBQ led me to Ember Barbecue where I discovered the Hog Heaven, right in my own backyard of Santa Ana, CA.
Owned by pit master Derick Foster, a former marine who studied at the Culinary Institute of America, Foster grew up in Kansas City where he wanted to bring the city's famous and beloved style of BBQ to California. With his wife Kylie, another graduate of the CIA, the two run Ember together inside Downtown Santa Ana's Native Son Alehouse.
The Hog Heaven is a cornbread bowl that's filled to the brim with a three-cheese macaroni and cheese, layered with sweet BBQ beans, creamy coleslaw, and slathered with both Ember BBQ sauce and cheese sauce. Pitmaster Foster then stacks on a handful of pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, chicharron fresh from the fryer, beef brisket, and jalapeno cheddar sausage so juicy you'll need to lay out a "Caution" sign on the floor. Finally, as a signature to his slow-cooked masterpiece, Foster finishes the Hog Heaven with more mac and cheese, cheese sauce, and Ember's BBQ sauce.
Overall, it weights in at over five pounds and is essential a meaty birthday cake for BBQ lovers.
While the Hog Heaven is intended to be enjoyed with friends and BBQ aficionados, ambitious individuals can try to conquer this sweet and savory beast on their own. In our case, we made it last a week.
Ember Barbecue typically has 2-4 Hog Heavens available each day they're open, so cue connoisseurs should take note if they're trying to get their fix.