Wait up, summer's not over yet. You can tell because the streets are still lined with the ever-growing food truck culture in Milwaukee. It's Food Truck Week here at OnMilwaukee.com and all week long we're stopping at some of Brew City's best restaurants on wheels in search of the most interesting dishes on offer.
One of my fondest discoveries from my baseball trip to Texas earlier this summer was discovering my deep love and appreciation for brisket. I could eat it everyday. The only problem is that the brisket down in Dallas (or Houston or Austin or San Antonio ... ) is some of the best you're going to find anywhere, and while I've certainly had some tasty brisket back home, it just can't quite reach the meaty highs of Texas.
Well, I think I've found my favorite brisket in Milwaukee, brisket that could possibly compete with the scrumptious supply down in the South. And the best part? It comes surrounded by an equally delicious grilled cheese sandwich. Take that, Texas.
The dish is the brisket grilled cheese, and you can find it – plus a drink and fries – for $8 at the Roll MKE food truck prowling around downtown Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m.
"It's been on the menu since day one," said owner and chef Chad Rittgers. "I knew I wanted to do something with a grilled cheese. It actually started off with short ribs, but we just used that for another item on the menu, and brisket was something I always liked."
Oh, Rittgers definitely did something with a grilled cheese: He amplified it to upsettingly delicious heights. After sampling it earlier this week, my wallet and my waistline are both currently at risk.
Rittgers braises some beef brisket in Lakefront Brewery Eastside Dark beer (he doesn't drink wine, so he cooks mostly with beer). Last year they used Lakefront's IBA, but since that went seasonal, they moved over to the Eastside Dark.
He then puts some pieces between two slices of bread, along with some charred red onions, arugula, a holy triumvirate of cheeses – cheddar, gruyere and provolone – and arguably the sandwich's secret weapon (its obvious weapon is the brisket, duh): some Peppadew peppers.
"I knew when we started, I wanted to do something with Peppadew peppers because I'm a big fan of those," Rittgers said. "They have a very unique flavor. They're not spicy, but they're not overly sweet. They have a really interesting flavor, and I go to some trouble to get those. It's definitely worth it in the end product."
It most certainly is. The final product is a flavorful, meatily satisfying grilled cheese sandwich. The brisket is perfectly tender and juicy with that rich dark beer flavor, and the peppers add a nice little sweet surprise to every bite. Even with the dense, greasy and buttery flavors coming from the cheese and the brisket, it doesn't feel like a heavy dish either. Combine all of those awesome tastebud-tingling flavors with some perfectly toasted bread for a crunch, and you have one of my new favorite sandwiches in the city.
Not surprisingly, it didn't take long for crowds to flock to the sandwich either. Rittgers noted that it's generally the most popular item on the menu, usually selling out before the truck's regular 1:30 p.m. closing time. So if you're looking to sample a brisket grilled cheese sandwich for yourself, it might be best to stop by earlier rather than later. Otherwise, you might get "stuck" ordering the MKE burger, which features homemade Nueske's bacon jam. Or 12-hour smoked pulled pork. Or the Banh Mi pork belly sliders.
So yeah, dropping by the truck is pretty much a win-win. In the end, I say damn you, Roll MKE, for almost certainly ruining my boyish figure. The worst part is I'm loving every bite of this soon-to-be catastrophic weight gain.
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