8420 S. Sam Houston Pkwy W, @ Fondren
I first came across Broussard’s several months ago. It was a Sunday and they were closed but I noted it was a new strip center and there was no wood pile out back - not promising signs for good barbecue. I jotted it down on my list of places to check out but it wasn’t high on the list. Please feel free to insert some weighty thoughts about book covers, etc., here.
When I got around to looking into it, I discovered it’s a brand new Houston outpost of a long-time Beaumont institution, offering a unique take on links apparently known only in the Beaumont area. Their hand-packed links are a variation on what Robb Walsh in his barbecue Legends cookbook called the Southern Black/Urban Black style of sausage, fine ground beef only with simple seasonings such as red and black pepper and salt. But whereas most of those are wrapped in synthetic casings, Broussard’s are wrapped in a very thick natural casing and seem to be lacking in the red pepper element. Because they’re hand stuffed, they’re also much more loosely textured. And they’re just links, not hot links.
On my first visit I had to try the house specialty. The casing is very tough; it was a struggle to cut through it with a plastic knife. You eat these by scraping or squeezing out the meat and spreading it on bread (provided) or crackers or whatever. I found myself unceremoniously picking up the casing and scraping it with my teeth to get the last bits. I’ve only experienced one example of these types of sausages that I liked before, being enough of a barbecue snob to overwhelmingly prefer the Central Texas, coarse ground, natural casing varieties, but I liked these. The uncomplicated sauce is mildly sweet, very mildly hot; it was perhaps essential for the enjoyment of the meat. The potato salad was, I think, homemade with just a hint of mustard. I found the Rice Dressing, however, disappointingly lacking in spice and seasoning.
Intrigued, I just had to try the ribs (note the order their offerings are listed). Now I guess these ribs are not going to win any awards at the barbecue competitions, either, but I will have to admit to the heresy of liking them, too. Tender almost to the point of falling apart - almost - slathered in sauce, characteristics a barbecue snob should detest, There were melt-in-your-mouth fatty bites and some chewy, burnt bits; damning the calorie count and the cholesterol, I gobbled them all up. The potato salad lived up to expectations from my previous experience but the green beans, a soul food style cooked way past the point of crispness or snap, with bits of onion in a thin, very salty broth, could’ve used a more flavoring from some bacon or the like.