By and large, the standard fare at most Texas barbecue spots doesn’t stray too far from center. Brisket, sausage and ribs define true north, with beans, coleslaw, and mac and cheese the likely side choices. That said, we love to see shops flex their creative muscles, and there may be no place more on top of the rotating specials game than Cattleack BBQ.
We’ve sung the praises of Cattleack’s pastrami burnt ends, and we still dream of the chili cheese dog that can’t return to the specials board soon enough. We ventured back to Cattleack last weekend to check out two specials that piqued our curiosity: the pork belly rib and a burnt end boudin sausage.
Pork belly ribs (PBRs, in Cattleack’s parlance) show up often in the specials rotation, but we’ve always missed a chance to try them. Our love of pork belly in small bites is well-documented; Heim BBQ and Panther City BBQ in Fort Worth may serve some of the best morsels in the area. But Cattleack’s PBR serves up that fatty pork goodness on the bone and in a much larger portion. Our single rib ($18.99/lb.) tipped the scales at 14 ounces, and the impossibly moist and slightly sweet pork is more than enough to make a meal on its own.
As good as the PBR was, we were drawn to the burnt end boudin link like moths to a smoky flame. Boudin is a Cajun sausage delicacy, more likely to be found in Louisiana or southeast Texas rather than North Texas, but Cattleack’s boudin would be right at home in Beaumont or Baton Rouge. Naturally, we have questions about Cattleack's version, and owner Todd David is more than happy to give us answers.
“We’re using the end pieces of brisket,” David explains, as he cuts off a small section from the brisket in front of him to demonstrate. “We get that smoky meat and lots of bark; when we chop it up, it’s the same stuff we put in our Que-T Pies.” Finished with the explanation, David hands us the brisket morsel to eat, and we’re sold; we add a boudin link ($5.50) to our order.
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Traditional boudin is commonly served with saltine crackers, and Cattleack does the same. The filling is David’s aforementioned brisket, rice, onions and green pepper, along with a blend of Creole spices. The sausage casing snaps open easily with each bite, and the mildness of the rice-vegetable-beef blend is quickly replaced with the spicy seasoning. We quickly found ourselves scooping up spilled filling with saltines to shovel back into our face.
The boudin and pork belly ribs show up with regularity in Cattleack’s weekly specials, for what are now obvious reasons. You, dear reader, can keep abreast of the upcoming week’s special on Cattleack’s website, or by signing up for their weekly emails. Before you think we’re giving away some secret about the specials, our recent Friday visit confirmed that we’re not. Despite showing up at 10:15 in the morning, we found the line nearly 50 people deep ahead of us. It’s just further proof that you can’t keep a lid on a good thing for long.
Cattleack BBQ, 13628 Gamma Road (Dallas). Open: Thursday-Friday, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., and first Saturday of each month, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.