Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Book Review: Mastering Barbecue

Book reviews are rated on the ‘Stains Per Book’ method. We aren’t looking for pristine picture books on this blog. We want books that will be a resource. Dog eared pages and sauce stains are our earmark for success.

5 Stains Per Book (SPB) describes the ultimate book for our purposes. 1 SPB would denote a book that deserves to be left on the shelf.

Mastering Barbecue
By Michael H. Stines
4.5 Stains Per Book (would have received a higher rating if there was a larger emphasis on sauces)

192 pages
10 Speed Press, 2005

The title of this book is a bit of a misnomer. Don’t be dissuaded from purchasing this excellent tool if you are a newcomer to BBQ. It is certainly not directed towards the expert, although enthusiasts of all expertise levels will find value here.

Although the book is not entirely dedicated to BBQ (lots of grilling and food basics here), our concern is how is it as an introduction to BBQ in general and what does it have to say about sauces (c’mon, this is a BBQ sauce blog after all).

As an introduction to the cuisine known as BBQ, this is an excellent resource. An overview of the different types of smokers is provided, as is a conversion chart for both weights/measurements and replacement foods (for example, Stines has a list of ingredients that can act as substitutes for something that is called for in a recipe but you might be out of).

When it comes to sauces, there is a fairly exhaustive list of nearly fifty sauce recipes. Recipes cover all of the geographic idiosyncrasies that are the source of so much consternation in the BBQ world. Each one of us has a favorite style of sauce and we are often convinced that our opinion is objective fact (I know that mine is). Your favorite style of sauce is guaranteed to be represented here. Everything from Alabama white sauces to Texas red sauces are discussed.

In addition to the recipes themselves, there is an introduction to sauces, a breakdown of common ingredients (listing what they add to a recipe), general tips and an explanation of regional diversity.

I know that you, the reader, would agree that things other than sauce are barely worth talking about, but we have to put the sauce on something. So what else does the book cover?

There is a considerable discussion of mops/marinades, rubs, meats, poultry and vegetables.

Mr. Stines is a certified BBQ judge and has judged at some of the most prestigious BBQ events in the nation. A former journalist, Mr. Stines is the executive chef at a Cape Cod restaurant.

Mastering Barbecue comes with our highest recommendation. You can purchase the book on Amazon.com.