Trailer-Made: Boss Hogs Kitchen
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.08.11
2012 UPDATE: Boss Hog's Kitchen has moved to 3595 RM 620 S. in Lakeway.
In the land of macaroni cheese, the fried mac and cheese is king. And Boss Hogs Kitchen makes the best version of that culinary curiosity I’ve ever seen, tasted or heard of. Smoked cheddar cheese holds together squares of elbow macaroni the size of Rice Krispies squares. They’re breaded and deep-fried to a raspy golden crunch and topped with more smoked cheddar and fat crumbles of bacon. An order of three is $4.95. It makes up for all the bad mac and cheese out there.
Brandon Pierce is the trailer cook behind that dish, a Louisiana native who like so many of us came here to go to school and never left. He’s been an executive recruiter, a part-time guitar player, a front-of-house restaurant worker and a home cook, but Boss Hogs is Pierce’s first commercial cooking job. He developed the recipes with an Austin friend who’s an executive chef, then rolled out Boss Hogs this summer. Nothing like starting your cooking career as your own boss. And as a boss, he’s hardest on himself. The day I was there, he pulled the turkey sandwich off the menu because the bird came out too dry, he said, “and I’d rather just not serve it when it’s too dry.”
Boss Hogs’ website asks, “Who doesn’t like slow-smoked meat with every meal?” Nobody, almost. Pierce’s pulled-pork sandwich ($6.50) was packed with easygoing shreds of meat with the right fat-to-lean balance on a bakery-quality bun with a sweet afterglow. There are rinds and edges and caramelized bits, like the meat had just come off Pierce’s la caja china smoker box. A selling point for this sandwich is a bacon wasabi slaw, but there wasn’t much of it, and its flavors didn’t stand a chance of breaking through the pork barrier.
Boss Hogs is flanked by two taco trucks at the Caboose Eatery trailer park at West Fifth and Walsh streets, but Pierce puts out breakfast tacos of his own, including a scramble of eggs, smoked cheddar and fatty brisket for $3. The barbecue sauce is orange-red, like a sweet chile sauce with a little smoke and dried onions.
The most memorable dishes at Boss Hogs didn’t come from the smoker. They came form the fryers. First those mac-and-cheese fritters, then something called Cap’n Crunch fried pickles ($5.50). Most fried pickle appetizers are disasters, plucked frozen from a box, with pickles that need all the help they can get but get none from gummy batter and a thoughtless dunk in the oil. Boss Hogs starts with pickles you’d recognize as cucumbers, cut first in spears, then in sections for a good breading-to-pucker ratio. The Cap’n’s main contribution is crunch, the knobby, mouth-shredding razor-wire stalagmites you’ve loved since childhood. The sugar’s gone, mostly, and because Cap’n Crunch doesn’t taste like much besides sugar and pain, you wouldn’t know that this is lunch and breakfast at the same time.
“Be your own boss?” Be your own Cap’n while you’re at it.
Boss Hogs Kitchen
Updated hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)