New BBQ Books Add a Dash of Inspiration for Aspiring Pitmasters

Last year we saw a black pitmaster’s first cookbook since the 1980s in Rodney Scott’s BBQ World. This year, two were released in the same week, with Matt Horn and Kevin Bludso having the honors. Both have joints in California, but Horn’s barbecue is undoubtedly influenced by Texas, and Bludso now lives in Corsica. These days, the reach of Texas barbecue is undeniable, with a smoked brisket covered in books from New York, UK, and an Argentinian chef whose restaurant is in Maine. Here are the best barbecue books of 2022, so far.

Bludso BBQ Cookbook: A family affair in Smoke and Soul

by Kevin Bludso, with Noah Galuten

The entertainment value of Bludso’s unvarnished story (she sets a “mother’s” record, I’m sure she’ll never be beaten by another barbecue cookbook) about how a child from Compton interested in Texas barbecue is reason enough to buy the book. Growing up in California, Bludso had a father who was a cop, a mother who was a Black Panther activist, and a great-aunt who ran an illegal barbecue out back of his house in Corsicana, where he spent his time. are. He channels that story into a cookbook of massive proportions.

This is primarily a barbecue book, but there are plenty of dishes here that are smothered, simmered, baked, and boiled. Bludso heats up the fryer for fried chicken, pork chops, and even ribs, and an entire seafood section includes shrimp and grits, okra, and etouffee. The hard-core BBQ section is refreshing because it’s not so hard-core. Bludso provides instructions for preparing various cuts of barbecue in an offset smoker, and for cuts other than pork belly and shoulder, it offers another set of specific instructions for working with a charcoal grill. Throughout the book, he reminds backyard cooks that barbecuing is supposed to result in a good time and “don’t take it too seriously.”

The most intriguing recipe: The smoked oxtail birria, because it’s one of the best things I ate last year when I was lucky enough to be in Corsicana during a recipe testing session with Bludso and his team.

Horn BBQ: Recipes and techniques from a master of the art of barbecue

by Matt Horn

Matt Horn details his barbecue journey, from the terrible pork chops he served to a girl he was trying to impress, to almost quitting after a disastrous pop-up outside a bar, to running two successful restaurants with the girl he didn’t impress with those ribs. The book’s smoking instructions read like notes to Horn’s former self. Had he known the basics, he shares, he would have had a head start when he threw his first brisket in the smokehouse.

As with any West Coast BBQ cookbook, a smoked tri-tip recipe is included, but you’ll also find unexpected twists like smoked blood sausage, pig’s head cheese, and smoked rabbit. Numerous photos are included to document the process of preparing Horn’s Oakland Restaurant Signature Brisket at various stages of preparation and smoking. Some of the recipes can make an arduous process too easy, such as the few instructions for removing a whole pig that don’t describe either the type of pit required or how to produce the charcoals needed for the lengthy cooking process. But if you’re looking to recreate the menu at Horn Barbecue, it’s got it all.

The most intriguing recipe: Nine different cake recipes are included, so you know this is an important Horn dessert. Key lime cake is an interesting take on the classic pie.

fire life: Master the arts of barbecuing, grilling and smoking

by Pat Martin and Nick Fauchald

Every barbecue book seems to start with a similar brief explanation of wood, charcoal, smokers, and grilling, but rarely are they as in-depth as Pat Martin’s. It provides descriptions of the types of wood that are useful and an in-depth explanation of the difference between green and dry wood. Martin also describes the different stages of fire, from lighting to ashes, and the book is organized around cooking at each of these stages (hence the title).

In addition to the basics of barbecuing, you’ll learn how to salt and smoke meat in a smoker and become familiar with terms such as reverse tap, sock sausage, and the punch-and-fluff method. The heart of the book is the whole hog barbecue, which comes as no surprise, as Martin’s Bar-B-Que in Nashville continues West Tennessee’s whole hog legacy. Martin delves into every detail across forty pages in hopes of increasing the popularity of this dying barbecue tradition. What Rodney Scott and Samuel Jones did for South Carolina and North Carolina, respectively, with their pork cookbooks, Martin is doing for Tennessee. It’s a cookbook, but it will live on as an essential historical document of an American barbecue style.

The most intriguing recipe: Open-top whole cabbage rubbed in vegetable oil and salt is about as easy as barbecue recipes, as long as you have a wood fire to char and tenderize this underutilized vegetable.

Pig Beach BBQ Cookbook: Smoked, Grilled, Roast and Sauce

by Matt Abdoo and Shane McBride

What happens when a couple of top New York chefs decide to enter the Memphis barbecue contest in May? If the pair are Shane McBride and Matt Abdoo, they win first place for poultry and second for whole pork, open a few barbecues in New York (Pig Beach and the late Pig Bleecker) and write a cookbook about all of them. have learned since leaving gastronomy.

The book is full of inventive recipes, from barbecue starters to desserts. For the barbecue part, the recipes provide directions for cooking time and temperature rather than explaining much of the process, so some barbecue experience is expected. Backyard smokers will likely find inspiration in an all-pork ribs section, which includes Lebanese ribs with New York white sauce, char siu pork ribs, and Caribbean ribs.

The most intriguing recipe: Smoked duck lasagna was a jaw-dropping specialty at Pig Bleecker (RIP), and it requires making four more recipes before you start.

Stove: The ultimate guide to barbecuing meat

by Genevieve Taylor

Taylor’s book serves as an introduction to American barbecue for a British audience that views the word “barbecue” primarily as a gathering around a grill. Her inventive recipes are more than just an introduction to the basics, though. The first section of the book explains how to properly grill and smoke and describes the best fire to choose for good meats. Taylor provides simple grilling instructions that can be applied to most fine cuts of meat, and she also covers the science of smoking. It’s properly detailed when it comes to a Texas hot link recipe and a beanless smoked beef chuck chilli (the British spell it with a double I) which is sure to be approved by Texans.

Taylor’s approach to grilling is welcoming to various culinary influences, but she’s also not afraid to be straightforward about the process. She describes why cold meat straight from the fridge is the best for grilling and shatters the popular idea of ​​cooking “dirty” steaks, or caveman-style, directly over wood coals with a little science. “Hit a big cold steak on a bed of hot coals and what you do is cut off the oxygen and pretty much instantly you put out that little fire,” she wrote. And I agree.

The most intriguing recipe: Pulled pork pot stickers because it’s a fun way to make your BBQ leftovers more interesting, whether you’re using pulled pork, ground brisket or smoked chicken.

The Lost Fire Cookbook: Open Flame Patagonian Cooking

by German Lucarelli

Chef Lucarelli is an Argentinian native who has cooked over the fire in kitchens around the world. He eventually settled in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he opened the Lost Fire restaurant, serving Patagonian barbecue, in 2018. The book is as much a meditation on building and tending a wood fire as it is ‘a cookbook. Lucarelli’s passion for cooking with charcoal will make you feel guilty if you cook a steak with charcoal briquettes.

The many recipes for each cut of steak are so similar they become redundant, but the basic lessons are solid. A unique step for Lucarelli is that as the steaks cook, he brushes them with salmuera, which is a mixture of oil and vinegar seasoned with paprika, garlic and herbs. Besides the different beef steaks, there are plenty of instructions for smoking and grilling other proteins like chicken and lobster. Other recipes include Argentine specialties like empanadas, chimichurri, and choripan sausage, and there are plenty of vegetable-heavy side dishes to counter all that meat.

The most intriguing recipe: Smoked brisket which is brined for one to seven days and smoked at 150 degrees F for the first three hours before the temperature is raised to 210 degrees F for the remainder.

Watermelon and red birds: A cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations

by Nicole A. Taylor

The “first cookbook to celebrate Juneteenth”, according to Taylor, is not a historical cookbook documenting Juneteenth celebrations from long ago, but a book of current recipes to use in celebrating Juneteenth this year. and beyond. Food photography has a retro feel, but the style is modern and dynamic, which helps communicate its purpose.

The Juneteenth identity has always been associated with drinking watermelon, red drinks and barbecue, and this cookbook covers all of that and more. Taylor clarifies up front that the barbecue section is for those with charcoal grills rather than smokers, so the recipes may be more accessible to the home cook. And his recipes for BBQ sauces of figs and vinegar, rhubarb and brown sugar, peaches and molasses will enliven dishes on the grill, as will pickled blueberries, squash wedges and purple carrots on the side. You will also find a whole range of red drinks that will make you forget about Big Red.

The most intriguing recipe: Smoked beef ribs rubbed with horseradish and brushed with harissa.

Colin L. Johnson