If you’re the least bit geeky about barbecue or are the sort of person who is not happy with your ‘cue until you’ve perfected every little intricacy of the process, then I have a book that you must get. If you are detail-oriented and are often accused of being a perfectionist, then you need to be ready to rush out and obtain this book as soon as I tell you the title. If you long for the story of unbridled passion for outstanding ‘cue, persevering through poverty and failure until the gift of making world-class barbecue was bestowed upon one, then you must have this book now. If you’d be willing to wait in line for hours to sample such fine ‘cue, then you may already know about this book. It’s Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay ($29.99, Ten Speed Press, 214 pp.) and it will very soon become an all-time favorite on your bookshelf.
I know, I know, Franklin Barbecue has received Texas-sized hype about it heavenly briskets and how they’re only open until they run out of meat no matter how many hours you’ve been waiting in a line in their parking lot. I’ve heard all the stories, but the stories I’ve not heard where from anyone who’d actually been there and had bad barbecue. It just doesn’t happen. So a place and a pitmaster that have a sterling reputation decided to put it on the line and write a book, a risk that has landed others before into a pitfall of a poorly done book or something that ended up not reflecting the business and reputation they’d worked so hard to build. Well, its to our benefit that the book turned out to be at least the equal of the place.
This book may be like no other that has been reviewed here in the pages of the National Barbecue News, mainly because there’s not a recipe to be found until you’re 137 pages in (and that one was for rub). Franklin and Mackay wrote this masterpiece in a way that no others before have taken, devoting the bulk of their book to the details and techniques that some cover in a quick introduction of a dozen pages or so. As a matter of fact, the authors use this introductory chapter to explain why they’ve written this book in the manner they did.
The book is constructed of seven chapters. In the first, titled Beginnings, you get the whole story of how this came about, and I don’t mean from the first day they turned the key in the lock of the front door of a new restaurant but rather all the way back to smoking a brisket for a gathering after scraping together just enough loose change to afford the groceries. The second chapter (The Smoker) is all about the cooking equipment, including a great tutorial on building them yourself. The third chapter is on wood and the fourth is titled Fire + Smoke. It’s not until you get to the fifth chapter, more than 100 pages into the book, before the authors even begin to talk about the meat, and even then it’s more about how to select meat and work with it before cooking it.
Finally in chapter six – page 125! – Franklin and Mackay start offering details of their cooking methods, including rub recipes and a take on those ingredients. There’s great info on prepping each kind of meat which is accompanied by step-by-step pictures. And then just to make sure they’d left out no details, in chapter seven they do step-by-step pics on how to slice up a brisket.
Now when it’s all set and done, this book should either having you turning out briskets that are just like Franklin Barbecue or Aaron Franklin has pulled one big prank on all of us. If you believe what you read here, he’s absolutely given up the secret plans on his widely-acclaimed barbecue. I’m thinking this one is legit and I think you’ll find it to be that way as well. So hurry up and go get this book. Or else everybody in your neck of the woods is going to soon be cooking better brisket than you.
Here’s another new book with a unique take on our favorite topic. This time the information is divided into 20 lessons, like a tutorial. If you’re ready for to go back to school, Feeding the Fire: Recipes & Strategies for Better Barbecue & Grilling by Joe Carroll and Nick Fauchald ($29.95, Artisan Books, 264 pp.) will serve as an ideal textbook.
Carroll begins the book with a confession that his Jersey roots didn’t necessarily provide him with the same sort of barbecue roots sported by many of the famed Southern pitmasters. Rather, he developed his through his own trial-and-error experiences cooking for himself, his family and friends as a youth. He later had the opportunity to travel across the country and sought out different styles of barbecue that he would in turn seek to master back at home. When he reached a career crossroads as a young adult he first opened a craft beer bar in Brooklyn, then followed that with a barbecue joint in a space that became available across the street. He would call the place Fette Sau, or fat pig, and would later open another restaurant, St. Anselm, this time focused on grilling and located next door to his original beer bar. His success as a budding restaurateur led him to open another Fette Sau, this time in Philadelphia, and a steakhouse in Manhattan. As remarkable as that journey may seem, it’s even more remarkable that he (and co-author Fauchald) wrote this sort of book; instead the tired format that others have trotted out which is a publicity piece for their restaurant followed by a handful of generic recipes, Carroll and Fauchald took a riskier path with this format. Well, just as it did with the restaurants, the gamble worked with this book, too.
The first three lessons cover meat, wood and rub and do so in great detail. It provides a good base to build upon through the following lessons, which includes topics like Barbecue is a Technique, Not a Recipe; Sauce? If You Must; Fire Equals Flavor; and You Can Grill Before Noon. Each lesson is efficiently arranged and illustrated with tables and pictures as needed. You can probably tell from those few selections that these lessons aren’t necessarily ordered from very basic recipes to more complex ones, and further this book likely isn’t written for a beginner. It’s more directed to topics and anyone with some background on the grill or smoker is going to gain quite a bit from working through these 20 lessons.
So even though it may be June, traditionally the month when school is out, why not go back to school this summer with the lessons available in Feeding the Fire.
I’ve always enjoyed using cast iron in my own outdoor cooking. It just seems to add a fun component, whether its some sides or a dessert to go with ‘cue or the entrée itself. Cast iron is just great to cook with and I’m frequently seeking new books with different ideas to try. The really good books are ones with dishes that are a surprise to be able to do in a cast iron dutch oven or pan over an open fire. With that in mind, I was glad to discover a pair of recent releases that pack a load of creations with which to stay busy for quite some time.
The first book, Sweet Cast Iron Creations by Doug Martin ($16.99, Hobble Creek Press, 120 pp.), is an incredibly well done book with just over 70 recipes, most of which are accompanied by a full-color picture of the finished dish. The book is divided into chapters on Pies; Cakes; Crisps, Cobblers, and Tarts; Cookies; Sweet Rolls and Dessert Breads; and Frostings, Ganaches, and Compotes. Among those you’ll find an intriguing recipe for Green Chili Apple Pie that immediately caught my eye. A few others of notable interest are Pumpkin Kahlua Cake, English Fruitcake and Almond Biscotti. Trust me when I say there is for sure something in this book that will satisfy any sweet tooth.
The next book is Backyard Dutch Oven Cooking by Bruce Tracy ($12.99, Hobble Creek Press, 126 pp.). Tracy is a past world champion on the International Dutch Oven Society circuit and currently judges contests and teaches about Dutch oven cooking. With this book and his first, Dutch Oven Baking, Tracy is sharing his championship background with potential future world champions.
Backyard Dutch Oven Cooking is written more across-the-board, featuring recipes from breakfast to chilies to entrees and finally desserts. Many of the standards are included, such as the ubiquitous Mountain Man Breakfast, but Tracy is just beholden to the basics. He ups the challenge with dishes like Ice Cream Bread, Smoked Turkey Soup and the tantalizingly named Bacon Bomb. There’s plenty of fun to be had from this one as well.
Whether you already have a fine collection of cast iron cookware or even if you’re just curious about what’s available every time you pass by one of those Lodge stores, these two books are great for providing new ideas that are sure to be winners.
BBQ Brian Misko Grilling With House of Q
TRAVELING DOWN ROCKY’S BARBECUE ROAD By Rocky Danner
World Barbecue Organization email@example.com
I first met Brian Misko and his lady in Whistler, British Columbia, at the Canadian BBQ Championship where I was judging and was presenting to the winner a paid entry to the Jamaican World BBQ Contest. Brian, at the time, did not have a team but was talking to everyone he could about competition BBQ, as he was starting a team. The next time I met up with Brian and his lady in 2007, they had a team called House of Q. They were cooking in Douglas, GA. We met again at the Jack Daniel’s Contest in 2009, where they cooked and placed in the top 10. They asked me if I would bring their Primo cookers to the Douglas contest a week later. We met again at Jack Daniel’s in 2014, where they placed 6th in pork. This team is rated in the top 10 teams in Canada. Brian and team have won numerous Canadian Grand Championships and he is well-known in the BBQ world for his cooking abilities. House of Q was honored as the Team of the Year for British Columbia and as the Canadian BBQ Society Team of the Year in 2014.
If you want a book to show you how to cook greasy hamburgers and hotdogs 97 ways, with recipes rehashed and borrowed from other cookbooks, don’t buy this book. In Grilling with House of Q, Brian shows his true passion for grilling and smoking foods, as it is shown in this cookbook. House of Q is known for their expertise in the BBQ and smoking arena. The book consists of 80+ recipes, and also some of his award-winning BBQ secrets. This book is written for those who seriously want to learn the art of grilling food. He breaks it all down from seasonings, to times and temperatures. It is written in such a fashion that even a novice beginner can understand and create great BBQ. Brian shares his knowledge and know-how through interviews and cooking demos in newspapers and magazines, as well as TV.
Brian offers a great selection of seasonings and rubs on his website, www.houseofq.com.
I can sincerely recommend this cookbook, as it comes from the heart, with tried and true recipes from a pitmaster Brian Misko and his lady. Whether you are a beginner or serious BBQ griller, this book will improve your cooking skills and should be in your reference library.