California is made up of transplants from other states. They will often suffer homesickness and crave a regional dish that is sold on every street corner in their hometown. Unfortunately for them, it is often hard to find a legit version in Southern California. If I moved out of Southern California, I would probably have a hard time finding a decent Baja style fish taco. When a transplant finds a dish that matches the ideal of their hometown, the result can be magic. I recently discovered that Rancho a Go-Go makes a pretty mean brisket that literally made my Texan friend tear up.
Let’s start with the basics, what is Brisket?
The brisket cut is located near the chest of the cow and is a very tough and fatty. This cut of meat was traditionally considered near useless and was fed to the peasants or even fed to animals. Texas style brisket evolved during the great cattle Great Texas Cattle drives of the 1800’s. German immigrants flooded Texas and brought their old-world butchering craft. In the Texas cattle country, they learned to use open wood fires to slowly cook the brisket to soften the meat. Slow cooking the brisket cut allows the fat to slowly dissolve during the 12+ hour cooking process, thus preventing the meat from drying out.
This “Low and Slow” technique has been passed down through generations, including Chris Rocke, founder of the Rancho a Go-Go Food Truck. Chris started making brisket while he was in college; although his skills with a smoker transformed from a hobby into a business with a catering company, food truck and now a brick and mortar shop in Orange (Rancho To-Go). Chris Rocke still uses his parent’s Texas recipe and technique to make some really good BBQ.
The Brisket Slider
As Chris explained to me, the brisket is rubbed with only salt and pepper, nothing else. It is then slowly cooked over “Low and Slow” heat for 12-16 hours. The brisket is served on slider rolls; although the “Slider” was served with so much meat, the roll to be more of a bra holding up the mounds of meat. The meat itself is perhaps the best brisket that I have personally experienced. The meat is cut against the grain, forming juicy cluster bombs of beef. The meat was extremely tender and broke apart under light pressure. The primary flavor is natural beef, which dominates the palate and makes the tangy-sweet sauce an amusing side-show. As I bit down on chunks of brisket, the juice actually flowed out of the meat and onto my gums. Awesome.
I am on a diet, so I only ate half of my brisket. I brought the other half to my co-worker who grew up in Texas for his expert opinion. He took one look at the brisket and started to nod. He meticulously took a single chunk of brisket (without sauce)and tasted it like a fine wine. I kid you not, his eyes started getting pink and misty as he started talking about his Mother. I’ll took that as a sign that it was legit and slowly walked away so that he could have a private moment over the brisket slider.
My Final Thoughts
If you are from Texas and looking for legit BBQ (Texas for Brisket), I highly recommend that you visit Rancho A Go-Go to get a piece of home. I have seen this truck roaming the Orange County Food Truck circuit for years, although I had yet to try their brisket. I’m glad I made the stop this week, my taste buds were rewarded with a taste of Texas. They also just opened their brick and mortar store in Orange and they have two trucks running through Orange County and Los Angeles. If you are from Texas and have the opportunity to try their brisket, let me know what you think of it.