Certain foods tend to inspire more passion in people than others. Pizza is a perfect example, but barbecue is right up there too. And although pizza is my particular food passion, I do love good barbecue. In fact I've toyed with the idea of expanding this blog, or creating a companion blog, to cover the local BBQ scene.
And I do take a stab at barbecuing at home every now and again. The results have generally been good, but it's a difficult art to master, if you really want to do it right.
I'm one of those people who, when they get into something, do research and read up on it, so they can get better at it. And so over the years I've amassed a small library of books on barbecuing.
The latest addition to my BBQ bookshelf is Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Food, by Karen Putnam and Judith Fertig. I recently received a review copy from publisher Robert Rose.
This is mostly a recipe book - over 80% of its 405 pages are devoted to recipes - but it starts off with a concise overview of BBQ basics, including various types of ovens and smokers, wood and other heat and smoke sources, and hot vs. cold smoking. The authors also offer advice for those planning to enter BBQ competitions, although with a few exceptions (such as choosing a team name), most of the advice relates to techniques that would be useful for the noncompetitive, home barbecuer as well.
One thing about the book that I particularly like is a section covering the basic process for various types of meat, such as pork ribs, beef brisket and chicken, accompanied by full-color photos. Those instructions then form the template, on which you can build by using the more detailed instructions for the individual recipes which follow. Those recipes cover everything from rubs and sauces to every kind of meat and cut you're likely to run across, and a few that you're not (cold-smoked ostrich, anyone?), as well as vegetables, fruits, cheese and nuts. Not every recipe is illustrated, but a color photo section does provide representative pictures from each chapter.
Karen Putnam clearly knows her stuff - she's got some BBQ world championships on her resume - and Judith Fertig presents the recipes clearly and simply.
This isn't the most comprehensive book on the subject that I've got, but not everybody wants or needs an 800-page tome every time they cook. Championship BBQ Secrets is thorough enough for all but the most hard-core BBQer, it's well organized, and it's easy to read. If I had to choose only one of my BBQ books to keep, that would be a very difficult decision to make. But as a solid manual on the art of barbecuing, with enough recipes and ideas to interest even an experienced 'cuer, this would not be a bad choice.
Book Title: Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Food
Authors: Karen Putnam and Judith Fertig
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Robert Rose (2nd ed. April 2, 2013)