Thursday, January 17, 2008

REVIEW: Dr. BBQ's Big-Time BBQ Cookbook

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.

Dr. BBQ’s Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook
Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe
4 Stains Per Book (would have received a higher rating if there was a larger emphasis on sauces)
302 pages, St. Martin’s Press

In the interest of full disclosure, I have met the author twice and we have corresponded electronically a number of times.

For the purpose of this site, my two primary concerns are ‘how much of the book is dedicated to sauces’ and ‘will this book be in the hands of the cook as he sits in front of his cooker and prepares his food’. To his credit, it seems that Dr. BBQ wants this book to have dog-eared corners and to be littered with sauce stains and scribblings.

This is a large and ambitious cookbook. Ambitious is not a term that is often used when discussing BBQ, but it should be. Low and slow smoking is not the simplistic, backyard ‘fire and forget’ cuisine that it is often portrayed as. Ray covers the basics of BBQ (rubs, sauces, types of meats, etc.) as well as recipes that are off the beaten path, such as Tomatillo-Mango Salsa.

This book contains not only recipes, advice and photos, but anecdotes and areas following each chapter where the reader can enter his own experiences and results. There are five distinct chapters that delve into pre-cooking recipes (rubs, marinades, etc.), traditional smoking, grilling, creative uses for leftovers and the last chapter deals with deserts and side-dishes.

There are 10 pages of mops and sauces. Not as much as I would like in a book of this, with our focus being on sauces, but the recipes all seem to be very strong.

I highly recommend this cookbook. It is a large, well written book that talks about the food and how to create it. You’re not going to find chapters on equipment or glossy pictures that act as filler. What you are going to get is a compendium of award winning recipes from someone who has brought them to you from the trenches of the culinary front line. I expect that I’m going to have to purchase a copy of this book every few years as the wear and tear of reference and sauce stains take their toll

It should be noted that these recipes come from a seasoned pro. Dr. BBQ is a respected veteran of the competition circuit and has more awards than you can shake a stick at.

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