Hello again, food truck lovers. As we do each Friday leading up to Heard on Hurd (returning to Downtown Edmond 6-10 p.m. Aug. 18), we’re reviewing some of the finest food trucks in the state. Look for Big O’s Pork and Dreams, along with dozens of other food trucks, at Heard on Hurd. Thanks, as always, to Citizens Bank of Edmond for sponsoring these #FoodTruckFriday reviews.
Barbecue food trucks have a secret weapon, not that they need it.
Oklahomans are, by and large, a pretty meat-driven folk. Any cuisine that promises big portions of animal flesh need not work too hard to gain a following. We like meat and barbecue joints traffic in it heavily.
And yet, when you see a line of food trucks, you can almost guarantee a line waiting in front of the ones serving barbecue. That’s because they’re wisely using their biggest resource: smoke.
It’s not just how they flavor the juicy, fall-apart tender meats they serve. The smoke that billows and wafts from the trucks has those cartoon physics that will pick up people from a block away and drag them by the nose to the window.
Owen “Big O” Wilson Jr., owner, founder and pitmaster of Big O’s Pork and Dreams, said the smoke will grab a customer out of another line and pull them over to his.
Right now you’re lucky to find Big O’s out a few times a week, but soon the restaurant will have a brick and mortar location where fans can find them on the daily. The Wilsons graciously allowed me to break the news here: Big O’s is coming to 285 S. Santa Fe Ave., in Edmond; formerly home of a Mutt’s Amazing Hot Dogs outpost.
In the meantime, you can keep track of them on social media if you’d like to give their food a try. (They’re a regular fixture at Heard on Hurd, as well, so I think they already have that Edmond audience dialed in.)
Barbecue menus tend to be pretty straight forward. Smoked meats. Sauces. Sides. There are innovations here and there, but one thing you can just about always depend on is the brisket sandwich ($6).
Even as we become connoisseurs of barbecue, focusing more on primal cuts and larger slices of smoked meats, we can’t deny the appeal of the shredded brisket sandwich. Forget the bark and the smoke rings and shimmering veins of meltingly soft fat for a moment and indulge in the simple pleasure of meat doused in a sweet, smoky sauce, stacked inside a buttered bun.
Sliced brisket is great for eating without accoutrement, but shredded brisket is the ideal format for a heavy squirt of barbecue sauce. All those threads trap the sauce and soak it up, creating a juicy, flavorful bite that eschews complication for pure pleasure.
If you like it in a sandwich, I promise you’ll be just as pleased with it inside an enormous baked potato. The Big “O” ($9) is a smoked prehistoric ancestor of the potato, from when carbs ruled the Earth. It’s massive. At first I thought they’d cut open a regulation football and stuffed it with brisket, baked beans, sour cream and cheese.
First off, the smoked potato would be a winner on its own. It’s cooked to perfection, with tender insides just aching to be mashed with your fork. If I had my druthers, I might get it without the baked beans and barbecue sauce or without the sour cream and cheese. Each combination add so much flavor — one side sweet and tangy, the other creamy and decadent — that it seems almost like overkill to have all four.
You can get the sandwich and potato with pulled pork, as well. I opted to try the pulled pork in the barbecue nachos (half order $6, full order $10), which is exactly what it sounds like.
Take a tray of stadium style nachos and cheese sauce, add on sour cream, jalapenos, baked beans and a heaping helping of pulled pork and, voila, it’s a meal fit for several kings.
Again, I think baked beans and cheese sauce is flavor overload, but that’s just me. Your mileage may vary. I loved the sweet, Kansas City-style sauce slathered on the flaky pieces of pork, especially when stacked on a chip with jalapenos and sour cream. It’s like a tailgate exploded and all of it ended up on one plate.
Do you like magic? Because Owen showed me a trick when he made me a turkey leg ($10). This low-and-slow smoked bird is massive with gorgeous bronze skin. It’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Wilson held the meat in one hand and gently pulled the bone on the other end. It took just a bit of pressure to pull that leg bone clean out of the turkey. That’s tender, folks. You can get it with or without sauce, and I’d recommend trying it without to start. The hickory smoke found its way deep in the turkey leg and that’s definitely worth tasting before you start dipping it in sauce.
The same goes for the ribs on the rib platter ($12). I’m crazy about ribs and these were smokier than the Marlboro Man’s bachelor party. I love pulling the rib jerky away from the top and chewing on that deeply flavorful bark. I respect Big O’s commitment to really letting the smoke speak. The seasoning is minimal, because you really want to taste the meat and the heat.
The rib platter comes with three ribs, baked beans and a pile of some very tasty potato salad. This one’s big enough to share with the family. And probably some strangers passing by. It’s a lot of food.
Much as I love an ice cold can of Coke with my barbecue, at Big O’s you’d be a fool to pass up the fresh lemonade ($2). Sweet and tart in just the right balance with a ton of real citrus taste — I could definitely see chugging a gallon of the stuff on one of these balmy Oklahoma nights.
Tasting Big O’s fare, it’s little wonder the truck is moving into a permanent location. This is solid barbecue with a deep hickory flavor and plenty of crowd-pleasing variations. Just be sure to grab a wad of napkins when you order. Big O’s is tasty, but it’s certainly not for the prim and proper.
Food Truck Friday reviews are brought to you by Citizens Bank of Edmond, which presents the monthly street festival, Heard on Hurd in Downtown Edmond. Heard on Hurd is an authentic block party style festival that features three dozen food trucks, a live concert with local artists and retail pop-up shops. Edmond has a special vibe of its own and Citizens Bank of Edmond provides an outlet for the Edmond community to shine. Heard on Hurd highlights the importance of supporting local eateries, artists and retailers. At the heart of Heard on Hurd is Citizens Bank of Edmond which is proud to provide the means for so many local thriving businesses.
The next Heard on Hurd is 6-10 p.m. Aug. 18 at the corner of Broadway and Hurd in Edmond. For updates, follow @HeardonHurd on social media with hashtag #JointheHurd