Mosley owner Sean Keller having his barbecue in North Liberty, Iowa, on Wednesday, January 5, 2022 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette).
Pork butts lay on a rack on a grill at Mosley’s in North Liberty, Iowa, on Wednesday, Jan.5, 2022 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette).
Mosley’s in North Liberty, Iowa, on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette).
Cuban with pulled pork, ham, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, pickled gherkin on Cuban bread at Mosley’s in North Liberty, Iowa, Wednesday, Jan.5, 2022 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette).
NORTH LIBERTY – At Mosley’s Barbecue and Provisions, you will find a lot of smoke, but no mirrors. In a new Iowa barbecue tradition that owner Sean Keller has perfected over the past 10 years, the secret is not part of the recipe.
“There’s an aura of mystery, this shroud around the barbecue, and it sucks,” Keller said. “If you want to be next to a fire for 15 hours, do it, because I don’t believe in all this secret.”
Putting his money where his mouth is, Keller has publicly released his recipe for brisket spread for the first time to The Gazette.
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup of black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
1 tablespoon. + 1 pinch of sweet and sour smoked paprika
The barbecue pit where all the magic happens may not be glamorous. But, perhaps to the dismay of anti-smoking campaigns, it still looks pretty good.
Lighting the flame
In the pit is the product of an obsession that Keller began dabbling with more than 20 years ago and has actively worked to perfect it over the past decade – something very simple that he said he did very well.
But make no mistake: “It is very simple, but not easy,” he said.
After experiencing an explosion of barbecue flavors for the first time in South Carolina as a teenager, Keller, now 42, has been pursuing an art form that he has perfected for himself without imitating others.
“Growing up, the barbecue was like a drum on a Weber propane grill with burned KC Masterpiece,” he said. “So having a real barbecue with all the contrasting textures and flavors blew me away. He never left me. “
Where: 525 S. Gilbert St. in Iowa City; 125 E. Zeller St. in North Liberty
Hours: From 3 to 10 p. M. From Monday to Friday and from 11 a.m. M. At 10 p. M. On the weekends in Iowa City; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at North Liberty
Telephone: (319) 338-1419 in Iowa City; (319) 626-4227 at North Liberty
Details: In addition to a variety of traditional grilled foods, Mosley’s has recently expanded into new Cuban sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, salads, and more.
Doing it Iowan
While seeking a taste of his own home, Keller wanted to do more than bring styles from other states to Iowa. He wanted Iowa to establish its own barbecue tradition, something that it lacked.
“The barbecue is a product of scarcity. When you have a pig and a lot of people, you cook the whole pig and take every piece of pork from it, ”he said. “Here in Iowa, we have more pigs than people. So we remove the tenderloin, soften it, fry it to make a sandwich ”.
Barbecue is America’s story in a food, Keller said, with reflections of immigration patterns, economic growth, racial demographics and agricultural trends over centuries. The South Carolina style is influenced by the mustard and vinegar preferences of German immigrants, for example. The Texas brisket style was shaped by cattle brought in by the Spanish.
But in a new tradition that Keller brings through Mosley’s, what defines Iowa barbecue? Primarily farm-to-table sourcing, the use of less common Duroc pork, and a process that allows the flavor of the pork to speak for itself. Although Keller did not set out to create an Iowa style, the end result is inherently Iowan.
“It really came from a notion in my mind of what I wanted,” he said. “I was chasing the barbecue I wanted to eat. It kind of transcended regions at that point. “
Turns out, he wasn’t the only one who wanted to eat it. Mosley’s first opened in Iowa City in 2015, followed by a second location in North Liberty in 2018.
Bringing all the smoke
Mosley’s smoked meats are the product of 100 percent walnut smoke, made possible by wood delivered from Matt Kroul’s nearby family farm, University of Iowa Defensive Rigging from 2004 to 2008. Choosing only walnut wood without the use of heat assist from other sources, which can speed up the process, it is a Mosley’s exclusive choice.
While that choice is the result of an intense love for the art form that is more than just a cooking method, the walnut is what gives Keller’s home flavor.
“We are the only place in the state of Iowa that I know of that begins to end over a hickory fire,” Keller said. “We watch it all night, whatever it takes.”
When Mosley’s started in 2015, Keller slept on a cot inside the restaurant until others were trained to work with the well. But that’s not the only sign of your dedication.
It took being a youth soccer coach, which requires a fingerprint background check, for Keller to realize he really didn’t have fingerprints anymore, thanks to the hot stuff he’s been handling for decades.
“They are basically gone,” he said.
The cooking method isn’t the most practical, but Keller said he wouldn’t do it any other way.
“If a fire code kept me from doing it, I wouldn’t have a restaurant,” he said.
Back to basics
After years of “a lot of bad food” through trial and error, Keller has reduced barbecue to the basics in a way that doesn’t require overwhelming sauces to enjoy.
With just a basic brine in the butts, pork is not reliant on shots or excessive seasonings. Keller didn’t want it to be too sweet, either.
Duroc pork, which is much darker and more expensive than the standard pork used in many restaurants, offers more fat and marbling for a richer flavor. The ribs are smoked for four hours; butts are smoked for at least 12 years.
“Protein is the star of the show. I want the pig to shine, ”he said.
But on the table in supporting roles are several daring sauces: hot sauce, Red Rib, Gold Standard, and M14. Each offers something for everyone, from bright and tangy or saccharine to tangy, mustard-influenced or spicy.
Sides include the iconic mason glass jars of home smoked bacon and bacon mac n cheese. Now, Mosley’s also offers a variety of new menu options made from scratch, including Cuban sandwiches, burgers, salads and pizzas.
A new audience for a new gastronomic genre
Most of the new diners at Mosley’s either have no barbecue experience or have preconceived notions of what a barbecue should be because of their little experience, Keller said. However, they have shown that they are receptive to new ideas.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring this new style of food and experience to people who might not otherwise get it,” he said.
Although he has been in restaurants most of his life, Mosley’s is his first, in partnership with Matt Swift. But more than owning a restaurant, he has forged a new style.
“If the ingredients and the process are native to the state of Iowa, then it has to be that the barbecue that is produced is also native to Iowa,” he said.
A neon sign at Mosley’s in North Liberty, Iowa, on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette).
A poster describing the barbecue sauces available at Mosley’s in North Liberty, Iowa, on Wednesday, January 5, 2022 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette).
Wood is burned in a firebox on a grill at Mosley’s in North Liberty, Iowa, on Wednesday, Jan.5, 2022 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette).
Macaroni and Cheese Pizza with Homemade Mac n Cheese, Bacon, and Parmesan Cheese at Mosley’s in North Liberty, Iowa, on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette).
Southwest Salad with Mixed Vegetables, Pickled Red Onion and Jalapeño, Crispy Chicken Croutons, Egg, Tortilla Strips, and Southwest Ranch at Mosley’s in North Liberty, Iowa, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette)
Mosley’s Burger with two patties, American white cheese, housemate’s bacon jam, Mosley’s Burger sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, and house pickles at Mosley’s in North Liberty, Iowa, Wednesday, January 5, 2022 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette)
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