A user’s guide to pellet cooking
By Doug Mosley
Laymen continue the debate on charcoal versus gas, but we all know that’s akin to arguing who was greater between Babe Ruth and Johnny Unitas. Charcoal and gas aren’t really in the same sport, are they? At least not when we’re talking about the real nuances of outdoor cooking. After all, gas is just a euphemism for a cooking vehicle while charcoal is an entry-level cooking substance. If laymen really knew their stuff – which would no longer make them laymen – they would be contrasting a whole list of other options. And chief among them would be wood pellets.
I realize that we’ve really not broken much ground on wood pellet cookers in this space. It’s not that I have little knowledge or regard for them; rather, I’ve just not come across much which covered the topic exclusively. There have been plenty of books that would have what seemed to be a throwaway chapter that would talk about the high points on wood pellet cooking, but not many had really tackled the material by itself and no one had really done it well. Until now, that is, with the publication of The Complete Wood Pellet Barbeque Cookbook by Bob Devon ($17.95, Square One Publishing, 202 pp.).
Devon has really hit it out of the park with this book. His experience with wood pellet cookers is evident as he provides all the necessary details on getting a novice up to speed and advancing to expert level. He opens with about a dozen pages of an introductory chapter that has the background on what is unique about wood pellet cooking. After that, it’s an obligatory chapter on rubs, spices, marinades, and sauces that is more complete than most I’ve seen. Then Devon plows into the featured chapters of recipes: beef, pork, chicken, turkey (high marks for separating the usual poultry chapter into those two), seafood, vegetables, sandwiches/pizza and desserts. Worked into the recipes are several sidebars that are useful tips to complement each chapter. They are all well written and easy to follow.
Wood pellet cookers have been around for a lot longer than everyone might think, but I do recall the stir they made on the various competition circuits about a decade or so ago. Heck, I even remember when Dr. BBQ was cooking with wood pellet cookers out of a trailer in a gravel lot in Lakeland, Fla., and that was many years before he would be showing up as Guy Fieri’s sidekick on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”. Wood pellet cookers have a very loyal following of really good cooks, and more are being converted every day. So when the urge comes over you to try it, I’d suggest you get this book to serve as your user manual