Back in the good old days of restaurant dining, the idea of leftover barbecue was a little strange. You’re sitting at a long wooden table with a tray full of spectacular smoked meat, and you can’t finish it? How Texan are you?
But in the time of coronavirus, the very act of eating barbecue is transformed. There aren’t any gleaming metal trays or picnic tables with bolted-down paper towel holders. Strangers don’t ask us to pass the sauce. Instead, we’re taking the meats home and snarfing them on our couches while we binge-watch Ozark.
Which means now is the perfect time for society to embrace an immutable truth that we’ve long had muted: Leftover barbecue is amazing. And putting leftover barbecue in other dishes is even more amazing.
Last week, I stopped by Cattleack Barbeque, which is still going strong as an elite temple of smoked meat. I over ordered like a maniac, taking home somewhat more than 2 pounds of meat and pints each of vinegar slaw and baked beans. And after one glorious lunch, I put the rest of the barbecue to Chopped-style use in a series of new meals.
Here’s how to hack your Cattleack order into days’ worth of incredible meals. (By the way, the wait time on a Friday was 28 minutes at 12:15 p.m., and considerably shorter when I left; Cattleack allows only four customers inside at a time and practices diligent distancing.)
Whole HogPulled Pork Sandwich
There’s no mystery to this one. Toast a bun in butter — I had leftover bratwurst buns, but round ones would be more traditional — and top it with pulled pork, slaw, sliced jalapenos and Cattleack’s barbecue sauce. The result is, not surprisingly, a damn good sandwich.
BrisketLoaded Baked Potato
Just before pulling your potato out of the oven, or just after pulling it out of the microwave, chop up part of a brisket slice, drizzle a bit of water or sauce over the meat and heat it just until it’s warm. Then go to town on your baked potato with brisket, jalapenos, butter, cheese, chives and sour cream or crema.
I’ll admit, the result is no Kooly’s, but it’s still respectable. I served mine with a side salad, but you don’t need to be a wimp like me.
Beef Rib or SausageA Pot of Beans
In our household’s rigorous testing, the best Cattleack Barbeque meat to put into a pot of beans is their spectacular pastrami beef rib. That pastrami rub provides just about all the deep, meaty seasoning that the pot will need. Add some sausage, if you’ve got it, along with copious garlic and onion.
I like to garnish or serve with a grilled spring onion (what some stores here call “Mexican” green onions because the white part is a bulb). This, of course, is not to knock the perfectly wonderful baked beans that Cattleack already makes using burnt ends.
Whole HogPut an Egg on It
This recipe comes from a collaboration between Cattleack and Reyna Duong, the chef-owner of Sandwich Hag. At HagFest last year, Cattleack unveiled its pulled whole hog and Duong dressed it with nuoc cham, the acidic, zingy Vietnamese condiment made using fish sauce, sugar and fresh citrus.
You can make some yourself, but Sandwich Hag also sells their housemade version in 8-ounce jars. Add one to your next contactless pickup or delivery order, and you’ll have a sneaky-great barbecue condiment.
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Anyway: Once you’ve got your meat and your sauce, the rest is simple. Top with some slices of red onion (pickled or not), and then fry up an egg. Perfect for protein lovers and hangover possessors.
BrisketHonestly, Just Eat It Cold
I’ll know if my housemate reads this article because she’ll shout from the next room, “Hey! You snuck slices of brisket cold?!”
In my defense, they were really little pieces. They have to be, because when Cattleack’s brisket is cold, the flavor punch is even bigger than normal. Even a centimeter-sized cube can rattle the taste buds with its punchy black pepper and bold smoke.
I never thought I’d say this, but I love cold brisket. It goes right up there next to pizza in the cold food hall of fame. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.