Mesquite in an offset smoker
M-F 11 - sold out (around 2:00)
This review comes from Texas Monthly’s Food Editor Pat Sharpe who found this little barbecue trailer during her travels through Victoria.
The first sign that today was not my day was when I screeched up in front of Kevin Broll’s barbecue truck a mere nine minutes before closing time—that was pretty much a guarantee that I wasn’t going to get any barbecue in peak condition. I had done my best, but the map on my iPhone had led me on a merry chase down farm-to-market roads on the last leg of my drive from Austin to Victoria.
The second sign that today was not my day was when I opened the white to-go box only to find every single piece of meat drenched in sauce. Damn! How could I have forgotten to tell them I wanted the sauce on the side. Kicking myself, I slouched back to the truck’s little window, where Kevin’s son Cullen Broll generously said, “We’ll make you a fresh plate.”
Back in the car again, I found the third sign that today was not my day: My severely jostled bottle of carbonated water exploded the second I twisted the cap off, drenching me in Topo Chico from chin to knees. (Let me just say that a person can, in fact, evaluate barbecue wearing sopping wet clothes.)
By this time, my mood needed a lift, and, happily, it got one after the first bite of KB’s brisket. Wildly smoky, the two lean slices had about eighth-of-an-inch rosy-red smoke ring capped by a thinnish mahogany crust. I wouldn’t call this crust “bark” exactly, because it wasn’t that thick and it didn’t dominate the experience, but it had plenty of flavor and the close-textured meat was tender, if not exactly falling apart. I feel sure that having it closer to 11 o’clock would have upped the melt-in-your-mouth quotient quite a bit. I tried to identify an interesting and elusive sharp taste in the crust (I initially thought maybe lemon pepper, but they confirmed it was a Cajun seasoning), but it might have just been the heavy mesquite smoke.
Poking around the box with my little plastic fork, I unearthed the other two meats I had ordered: pork ribs and a pork chop. Even though I had gotten the tail end of the day’s supply—i.e., chunks of pork chop and nubbins of ribs—they provided some highly satisfactory eating. The russet-hued ribs, unlike the brisket, were enrobed in a midnight-black bark and had a highly seasoned, almost hammy quality. They were compelling, as was the pale, tender, almost sweet pork chop, speckled deliciously with black pepper and bearing the remnants of more Cajun rub on the outside.
Taken together, the three meats were a perfect trio: I made a point of eating a bite of each in succession to emphasize the striking differences among them. Rounding out the experience were mashed potatoes with a sharp flavor, and the pinto beans, which were quite tender, stewed in a thick pot liquor with bits of tomato. While I wouldn’t call them ranch-style, they still had an assertive seasoning.
While I was sitting in the car eating, Cullen was battening down the hatches, closing the corrugated metal awnings of the tiny red wooden trailer that serves not only as kitchen but smokehouse. When I had peeked inside, I had seen an aged barrel-style smoker with at least two doors, right behind the narrow space where Cullen and J.D. jockey for position, taking orders and serving plates. (I wonder how hellish it must be to man that kitchen when it’s 105 degrees outside in August—I was scared to ask.) Before he left, I ran over to give Cullen my card and ask if we could call and talk to him and his dad later. He told me that they smoke the briskets for 22 hours over mesquite (that explains the wild smoke flavor), starting it at home and letting the pungent clouds bathe it all night long. The next morning they drive the truck back to the parking lot and start the process all over again.
Despite recently rising meat prices—explained on a typed note pinned just below the window—they’ve been doing a brisk business on this corner for four years in the parking lot of the Surplus Warehouse, Cullen said.
They plan to open a second location in what they hope will become a full-fledged food truck park on Highway 87. It’ll be housed within a converted building with covered seating. That should happen within a couple of months, and would be the first of its kind in Victoria.