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Texas Pitmasters Series – The Young Guns – Brett’s of Katy, Texas

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    Texas Pitmasters Series – The Young Guns – Brett’s of Katy, Texas

    ‘That Smell of ‘Cue Around You’

    Whenever we experience barbecue, we do so with all of our senses. Long before we eat and enjoy it, we savor it with our eyes and more importantly our noses. I can’t think of a more inviting aroma (other than maybe a bakery in the morning), then the smell of meat being cooked over hot coals or an open fire. It’s that captivating smell that draws you in, eliciting a Pavlovian olfactory response that’s undeniable. A good barbecue joint uses that as their calling card, its free advertising that money simply can’t buy, it’s that smell of ‘cue around you!

    Katy, Texas is a small town that got swallowed up by the western expansion of Houston and is now a suburban bedroom community along the I-10 Energy Corridor. Twenty some odd years ago when I first moved to the area it still had the last vestiges of a small town feel. Barbecue places were afterthoughts of say a local butcher or small grocery store. But there was one guy who occupied a spot in a small strip center between a barber shop and a vacuum cleaner store, who had a good old standalone barbecue shop.

    His barbecue was rather pedestrian and of no special interest. Every once in a great while after getting my hair cut next door, I’d venture over and grab a brisket sandwich. After a while I just quit going, it was not very memorable. Slowly, the proprietor got to the point of age or disgust (maybe both) and closed after what may have been a good 40 year run at the same location. What I honestly can’t remember is the fact that I never smelled his cooking in all the times I visited that strip center to get my haircut. That smell of ‘cue was definitely not around you.

    Enter a young pit master by the name of Brett Jackson. Brett is a local who had grown up in the Katy area and had graduated from being a backyard barbecue warrior to working in the barbecue and catering business where he found his food calling. It’s during that time that he met his now business manager, Jacqueline Herrera, and the two eventually setup shop at that same, small strip center location on Mason Road. The two are definitely the odd couple with Brett being super laid back and Jacqueline a literal ball of fun and fire!


    Click image for larger version  Name:	bretts katy 01.jpg Views:	0 Size:	245.3 KB ID:	1122504

    On top of his local exposure to barbecue and catering, Brett also did a two-year stint at Louie Mueller’s up in Taylor, Texas. Under their tutelage Brett admits that his skills at smoking meat on a production basis were really honed during that period of time.

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    So how good is their barbecue? Well after only 3 years of opening his fledgling joint, with the proverbial lines out the door and down the block, Brett’s Barbecue Shop has managed to garnish a spot on the list of the recent Texas Monthly Magazine's Top 50 barbecue places in Texas. Quite an honor and well deserved.

    They serve traditional Central Texas barbecue fare; the trinity of brisket, pork ribs and in house made sausage along with chicken, pulled pork, awesome smoked turkey and lots of specials. Served by the pound they accompany that with four different sides. For me the brisket is the super star; everything you’d want from moist, smoky and of course melt in your mouth tenderness. The bark is there but not overly pronounced. Brett uses the classic salt, pepper and garlic for that perfect Central Texas finish. As far as the sides the real winner is the cilantro slaw, with its tangy, vinegary mouth feel. It compliments the fattiness of the meats and cleanses the palate.

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    With so many barbecue places springing up like mushrooms all over the State, how is it (besides the obvious well cooked food) that Brett has managed to make such a favorable impact on the barbecue scene and those who judged him among the Top 50 in the State?

    Not having insight into the judges or their criteria at Texas Monthly Magazine, I can only speculate as to why but here are some clues that go a long way to explaining it. Of course a basic mastery of Central Texas barbecue is front and center but in judging I would certainly be forward looking into the man and where he is going with his vision.

    He and I talked for quite sometime about where barbecue was heading for both himself and for Texas barbecue in general. Two things really stood out in both. First of all, with meat prices being the way they are, it’s getting harder and harder to keep the doors of a typical place open by just serving sliced meats and a few sides. The price point is about as high as people are willing to pay and there is no end to basic product cost in sight. Beef ribs, as one who visits Louie Mueller’s can attest, are ridiculously high which is why they are only occasionally offered in most places.

    So what does that mean to the average barbecue joint owner? It means that new and different trends in what is served has to come to the forefront, they need to start thinking outside the traditional Central Texas barbecue box. Those items can be fusion based, combining cultural influences, like Blood Brothers in Houston (Vietnamese) or Valentina’s and Burnt Bean in the Hill Country (Tex-Mex) that not only push the boundary of what barbecue can become but can also provide the restaurant owner with a better return on his product offering.


    In that regard Brett also plans to open a larger venue sometime in the next year or so that will feature a full service bar. He plans on having product for sale over the internet and jumping into markets that expand his culinary vision and talents. In short he plans to go big or go home, another way to scale up profits and provide additional services.

    Their plan is to also continue to provide specials throughout the week and during certain time periods that also push that boundary. Take for instance the brisket enchiladas that frequent his menu. Creating and offering various sandwiches which he does throughout the summer. Or other inventive ways to push those boundaries he recognizes as being necessary as well as creative. Here are some examples via his Instagram page;

    Killer Brisket Enchiladas

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    A variety of sandwich specials

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    Loaded nachos

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    Traditional Texas Twinkies

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    Anyone for some lamb chops?


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    The other thing that makes Brett not only an exceptional barbecue pit master and all around cook is what I’ll term his altruistic side. Brett helps to encourage youth programs in local high schools that teach actual pit master skills to young teens. That includes putting together barbecue teams that compete with other high schools as well as encouraging skills like welding that teach young folks how to build their own barbecue pits. These are the intangibles of giving back to the community he grew up in and furthering a trade and a business he loves. Obviously, if the judges knew, it would garnish him points but if not then it quietly goes to show the true nature of this unassuming guy.

    All I know is that trips up to my local haircutter will never quite be the same now that Brett’s is open for business next door. Even when he moves across town and away from his current location I know one thing is for sure. The smell of ‘cue around you is now definitely well entrenched in Katy, Texas. If you find yourself on the Westside of Houston, do yourself a favor and head down Mason Road to Brett’s Barbecue Shop, you’ll find it a trip well worth taking.

    The Man and His "Beast"


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    Last edited by Troutman; November 9, 2021, 07:38 AM.

    #2
    Well done sir. Outstanding, and well written, article.

    Comment


      #3
      Wow. What a treat to have such a place so nearby.

      Great write-up! Thanks so much.

      Comment


      • Panhead John
        Panhead John commented
        Editing a comment
        Yeah Jimbo, you gotta try and make the next one in April. If not, I’m gonna drastically cut back on the number of likes I give your posts.
        Last edited by Panhead John; November 9, 2021, 09:08 AM.

      • ecowper
        ecowper commented
        Editing a comment
        Panhead John PS Stacy says hi

      • Troutman
        Troutman commented
        Editing a comment
        Yea can you imagine, this is one of at least 50 restaurants of this caliber !! Then there are 50 more that ain't too shabby either. Then there's another 100 that on a good day can compete with anyone. Then there's about 1800 others throughout Texas that who knows how good they are or not?

      #4
      Wow! Great write up and review. That place is gonna be on my list for sure. Thanks!

      Comment


        #5
        Great job Steve! Every time I read your reviews I go, damn, he’s almost as good as me!
        Seriously though, this has to be one of your best. 👍

        Comment


        • Troutman
          Troutman commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for the encouragement (although I'm still finding typos and misspelled words!! I need an editor )

        • Panhead John
          Panhead John commented
          Editing a comment
          How much ya pay?

        • Troutman
          Troutman commented
          Editing a comment
          A buck three eighty

        #6
        Very interesting and well written. Thanks!

        Comment


          #7
          The pics were terrific along with the script. 👍

          Comment


            #8
            My daughter recently moved to Katy, and I have recommended Brett's based on the glowing review here on AR. 👍
            Last edited by Steve R.; November 9, 2021, 09:12 AM.

            Comment


            • Panhead John
              Panhead John commented
              Editing a comment
              Steve R. Not sure, but could you be thinking of Brett’s Backyard BBQ in Rockdale from our Texas MeatUp? This Brett’s is a different place and hasn’t been reviewed here before. This one is called Brett’s BBQ Shop. Either way though, I’m sure your daughter will be happy with the food.

            • Steve R.
              Steve R. commented
              Editing a comment
              Panhead John, no, I'm thinking of the one right here in this thread. lol Maybe I should have said "review."

            • Panhead John
              Panhead John commented
              Editing a comment
              Aaah, gotcha.

            #9
            Awesome! The best of luck to these two

            Comment


              #10
              I’d buy your book!

              I am excited about the specials because I’d love some new ideas on using brisket!

              I gotta wonder though: why not add pastrami to the list?

              Comment


              • Troutman
                Troutman commented
                Editing a comment
                Look at sandwich #2, it is pastrami. Pastrami, as you know if you've ever made it, is a long, time consuming process if you corn your meat from scratch. Not at all profitable. He could buy pre-corned beef but not sure if that price point would make sense either.

              • IFindZeroBadCooks
                IFindZeroBadCooks commented
                Editing a comment
                Huh. Coffee hasn’t kicked in yet I guess.

                So, I get how pastrami is probably a bit less profitable than brisket.

                This would really suggest they need to find something like a super cheap cut of beef and make it amazing if brisket is now too rich. What else is left on the cow?

              • Troutman
                Troutman commented
                Editing a comment
                If I'm reading these guys right, the trend is to find ways to not only expand the barbecue menu but to also figure out how to be more profitable. If you make enchiladas with say a quarter pound of meat you can charge enough to make your money back plus a profit margin. It's that or try to sell slices of meat without the cheap filler and earn little or no profit. There will always be a demand for sliced brisket, but a brisket enchilada ain't too bad an alternative either !!

              #11
              Nice writeup. food looks amazing in the photos.

              Comment


                #12
                The one take away from this interview that stuck with me was the business side of barbecue, something we often over look. These guys are small business people and with the rise of the cost of product, they are all getting hammered. I mean $35/pound cooked brisket and rising? It's getting crazy. Unfortunately between COVID and rising inflation a lot of these barbecue businesses are going to fail. It's the sad reality of the current state of affairs.

                (This is strictly an observation and not in anyway a political statement. Please take it on the surface as such)

                Comment


                  #13
                  Absolutely fantastic write up, Texas Monthly should be recruiting you a contributing columnist.
                  I really hope things work out for these two, the restaurant business is not for the faint of heart these days.
                  Around here lack of staff if handcuffing even the best eateries.
                  Was at a great little road side diner called The Spot in Mount Forest yesterday that can only do breakfast and lunch.
                  Closes at 2PM.
                  Owners said that's a 10 hour day for them dinner would would take it to at least 18.
                  Who can do that 7 seven days a week.

                  Comment


                  • Troutman
                    Troutman commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks for the nice words my friend !! These two are really down to earth and love what they do. He's making a huge commitment opening up a new place but as I mentioned, it's go big or go ... well, broke !!!

                  #14
                  Man. I wish I had some BBQ like that around here! I'm still dreaming of a Texas BBQ roadtrip...

                  Comment


                  • Panhead John
                    Panhead John commented
                    Editing a comment
                    You know where to find us.

                  • jfmorris
                    jfmorris commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Panhead John someday I hope to make it out there and crash one of your Texas BBQ gatherings! I will say that my wife is just NOT into food or BBQ in the same way that I am however, so a trip for BBQ won't be up her alley, and she will NEVER stand in line for hours to eat it either.

                  • Panhead John
                    Panhead John commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I understand Jim, but only the people who went to Snows had to wait hours in line. All the places we went to were short waits…Including Brett’s. In fact, when we went to Miller’s last month, a Texas Monthly top 50 joint, we walked right in, no wait. Any lines that later formed were short. Plus, we do make a point to visit other places, beside just BBQ. And I’ll bet your wife would enjoy everyone’s company. The wives who attended last month were all just a joy to be around. Just an FYI.
                    Last edited by Panhead John; November 9, 2021, 10:47 AM.

                  #15
                  A really great write up and story.

                  Comment

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