Around a dozen Houston food media types were invited to a gathering at Beaver’s Westheimer on Tuesday, May 16, for a National Barbecue Day Picnic to sample a spread of chef Arash Kharat’s barbecue menu items. Featuring beef products from well-known Texas beef producer, 44Farms, Kharat and Beaver’s treated the guests to several beefy options, plus ribs and smoked chicken, with Beaver’s three-cheese Classic Mac and Mexican Street Corn sides.
Chicken-fried brisket burnt ends
Appetizers included Beaver’s highly-regarded Buffalo Cauliflower and Fried Brussels Sprouts, but the meat treat for the day was a sampling of chicken-fried brisket burnt ends accompanied by a mustard barbecue sauce. After their time in the pit, the savory, smoky nuggets are given a quick batter dip and then flash fried. Kharat plans to run these as a weekend special appetizer item from time-to-time.
Kharat has honed his barbecue skills over the past several years through his time as executive chef at Saudi Aramco’s Houston office, his association with Aces of Taste, Blood Bros. Barbecue, and cooking at 44 Farms events. A tidbit that’s not widely known, he was one of the chefs assisting with the food preparation for Anthony Bourdain’s Houston episode of Parts Unknown, in the segment for the philanthropic urban farming group, Plant It Forward.
Fried Brussels Sprouts, tossed in citrus ponzu and drizzled with wasabi aioli, topped with micro-pea shoots and micro greens
Barbecue on the menu for the event included brisket, beef chuck short ribs, and what turned out to be the tastiest smoked meat item of the night, a slow-smoked 44 Farms inside round sirloin roast, perfectly seasoned, tender and bursting with flavor. Pork spareribs and baby back ribs were spiced with a bit of heat in the rub, as were the smoked chicken halves. It’s hard to find a memorable smoked chicken these days, but Kharat serves one of the best around, and is a solid choice from their regular menu items.
Smoked 44 Farms inside round sirloin roast, and brisket
Beaver’s regular menu includes a selection of barbecue offerings, and Kharat really shines here. The wood smoke comes through in the bark, but isn’t overpowering. The rubs are more complex than simple Central Texas-style salt and pepper, and are customized to specifically complement the various meats. Kharat’s skills with the smoker make Beaver’s a worthy barbecue destination in the outer Westheimer area.
Mexican corn, elote-style with crema, Parmesean, and chili powder
The favorite side dish of the night had to be the Elote-style Mexican Corn, served in a personal-size cast iron skillet. Roasted whole kernel corn is drizzled with fresh crèma and topped with a generous grind of Parmesan cheese plus a dusting of chili powder. This is another regular menu item from Beaver’s that pairs perfectly with their barbecue offerings.
Personal-sized strawberry shortcake
What would a picnic be without dessert, and Beaver’s came through for the group with two delicious selections—a blueberry and blackberry cobbler studded with mini drop biscuits for the crust, and a strawberry shortcake served in Mason jars. Fresh whipped cream and strawberries were layered with housemade biscuits, and it capped the evening picnic admirably.
With chef Arash Kharat at the helm, Beaver’s Westheimer is a respectable dining destination with a diverse menu and is well-suited for both family dining and fun group gatherings.