by Paul Galvani | 25-95.com
Since BBQ is such a big part of the cultural landscape of Houston, it should come as no surprise that, after Mexican, the next largest group of food trucks is of those that serve BBQ. There are over twenty selling ‘que in the Houston area and the quality of most of the BBQ is as good any I’ve tried in restaurants.
One of the newest is a trailer that opened last month, and at 37-1/2 feet, it’s also one of the longest. “It’s a bear to pull”, said George Shea, an owner along with Jim Kanan of Bullbutter Bros. Barbecue.
I say one of the newest, but in reality this trailer’s been around for a while and recently was reincarnated. “We found it in northwest Houston. It used to be called ‘Yo Mama’s BBQ’,” said Kanan. “Bullbutter is the term I have always used instead of bull… something else.”
Kanan is from Fort Worth but lived in Austin for many years, where he was a musician. His style of BBQ is from central Texas, where there is a huge Czech and German influence. He says his potato salad is from the Alsace, made with no mayo or mustard. Instead, it features a red wine vinaigrette to which Kanan adds bacon and purple onions. His beans are slow-cooked pinto beans to which he had added chilli powder, onions and other seasonings. The excellent coleslaw is also made with vinaigrette.
Shea is a fourth generation Houstonian who first became interested in cooking when a family housekeeper taught him how to make red-eye gravy. He worked at the French Gourmet and Froggy’s restaurants in San Diego before moving to Seattle, where he encountered a truck selling sausages in Pioneer Square. “You might say, this inspired me to open this truck,” he said.
Kanan’s brisket is tender and juicy. “I use my special dry rub and cook it for fourteen hours at 200 degrees with the fat up,” he said. The meat is not too smoky and served with sauces out front for everyone to add his or her own.
We also tried the pulled pork, which was flavorful and so tender that you hardly needed to chew it. The kielbasa-style sausage he makes by hand was nice and juicy.
But perhaps the most interesting dish I tried was the Bullbutter Balls. Kanan mixes ground beef with ground pork, onions, cumin and chilli powder and the same dry rub he uses on his brisket, then forms it into a sphere almost the size of a baseball before wrapping it in bacon and smoking it. The result is a heavenly mix of beef, bacon and smoke flavors that is very hard to put down. Fortunately, they come two to an order.
They will also be one of twenty-four food trucks at this weekend’s Haute Wheels Food Truck Festival.