Ronnie Killen and Papa John’s have collaborated on a new barbecue pizza. Six months after Killen’s barbecue brisket pizza became a sensation during Rodeo season, the chef has unleashed a new pulled pork pie.
Topped with jalapeños, pineapple, and chipotle-honey barbecue sauce — as well as a generous serving of pulled pork — the pizza is available at Papa John’s across the Houston area for $17.99. The restaurant has also brought back the Killen’s brisket pizza. Both are available until September 29.
Killen tells CultureMap that he collaborated with Papa John’s on five different pizzas — short rib, barbecue sausage, and pork belly are the other three — but that the pulled pork is his favorite.
“Pulled pork, to me, I thought it was the best,” Killen says. “It has sweet, sour, spicy, smoky: everything when you taste something. It has that pizza taste, but it has a good balance of ingredients.”
He adds that he chose to work with Papa John’s for several reasons. Its footprint all over the Houston area is one obvious factor, but the chef also admires their use of fresh ingredients and community-minded spirit. The locally owned franchises contribute to a number of worthy causes, including animal-rescue charities, Killen notes.
As for the taste, CultureMap ordered one to try on August 26. Jalapeño and pineapple dominated the flavors, because the sauce has been added under the cheese. Killen, who saw a photo of the pizza on Instagram, sent a replacement with the sauce on top and a better distribution of pulled pork.
When made correctly, the pizza achieves the balance that Killen is aiming for: sweet, smoky, and spicy. The texture of the pork, which is made for Papa John's by an outside supplier who follows Killen's recipe, suits a pizza better than brisket.
Even though he’s working with a chain restaurant, Killen says he expects them to maintain his standards. He said he’s been sending pictures to Papa John’s Houston president Keith Sullins when he sees something that isn’t right — for example not enough pulled pork or too many jalapeños.
“I’m watching,” the chef says. “Don’t worry. I have people all over. I’m sending them pizzas to make sure it’s right.”