GO BIG PAPA

Papa John's is Killen it with this new barbecue brisket pizza

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

This week, I reached out for out for new — uh oh, worlds are colliding — Killen's BBQ Brisket Pizza from Papa John's ... with an asterisk. This mashup of food giants, Killen's Barbecue restaurant and Papa John's Pizza, is only available at Keith Sullins' "Houston Pizza Venture" group of 77 Papa John's Pizza locations in the Houston area.

Even though Killen's BBQ Brisket Pizza is not sold system-wide at Papa John's, Sullins still had to get national corporate approval for his Killen's collaboration.

"This was about an eight-month process," says Sullins. "It started when I was talking with Ronnie Killen at a Texans football game. Papa John's and Killen's Barbecue are both inside NRG Stadium. Jamey Rootes, the Texans' president, saw us talking and suggested that we should do something together. Ronnie visited our store down the street from his restaurant in Pearland, and that's how it started. Papa John's corporate gave us the go-ahead after checking everything out for food safety and other details."

Here's the blueprint: about 7 ounces of Killen's slow-smoked brisket, standard issue cheese, a ladle of pizza sauce, and a ladle of Killen's signature barbecue sauce on either thin crust or hand-tossed crust. It's a unique flavor, for sure.

While we don't have exact nutritional numbers, a typical Papa John's pizza with meat toppings has about 300 calories and 16 fat grams per slice. We do have the precise price: $17.99. Expensive, but you're getting real-deal, internationally celebrated Killen's brisket without having to wait in line outside his restaurant. Time is money.

CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler recently had the brisket pizza delivered. Here's his take:

Part of what makes brisket taste good is its rich, fatty texture, but shredding the brisket mostly ruins that. On the plus side, the smoke comes through strongly enough to cut through the dominant flavors of the cheese and sauce. The pickles and onions provide some welcome crunch and pops of acidity that help balance out the flavors, too.
As delivery pizza goes, it's solid. If I had to choose, I'd lean towards Cane Rosso's new Tuesday night special that uses brisket from Truth Barbeque — they cut it into cubes to preserve the texture — but that's only available in one place on one night of the week. Full credit to Ronnie Killen and Papa John's for figuring out how to make their pizza available for lunch and dinner citywide.

Bravo, Eric. Now here's my take:

Going in, I had one chief concern: would this be actual Killen's barbecue, or just some knockoff that Killen put his name on for a money grab? It's like that with Nathan's Famous hot dogs, one of my favorites, but only at a legit Nathan's hot dog stand. When you buy Nathan's hot dogs in the supermarket, the name's the same, but all similarity ends there.

Sullins assures me, the Killen's brisket on Papa John's pizzas is honest-to-goodness Killen's brisket. Well...it's brisket prepared according to Killen's obsessive specifications by J Bar B Foods in Waelder — as Sandler recently reported.

It's a quantity thing. Seventy-seven Papa John's restaurants demand lots and lots of brisket. As Killen told Sandler, after reaching confidentiality agreements, Killen gave the J Bar B staff his recipe and exact instructions how to prepare and cook the brisket. It was Killen who came up with the 50-50 sauce. He wanted to maintain some old school pizza flavor in his new barbecue pizza.

Continue reading on CultureMap to find out Hoffman's verdict on the pizza.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome