Thursday, August 21, 2008

REVIEW: Big Bad Book of Barbecue

Al Roker’s Big Bad Book of Barbecue

Author: Al Roker

Photographs: Mark Thomas

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Page Count: 206

I would love to give this book an unreserved recommendation. I really would. Al Roker is possibly TV’s most avuncular personality. He seems to be a really nice guy and people that I know who have met him say that he is exactly as he comes across. Unfortunately, the Big Bad Book of Barbecue is only a marginal success.

The book clocks in at 206 pages and 100 recipes. The tone is conversational, with a solid introduction to the basics. And that is where the book excels. If this was entitled ‘Al Roker’s Introduction to Grilling and BBQ’ it would have been a raging success. Unfortunately, when you put this up against books by Ray ‘Dr. BBQ’ Lampe or Steven Raichlen it comes off a bit light. That’s not entirely fair to the author. In the introduction to the book he mentions that his qualifications for writing the book are similar to any other BBQ enthusiast.

If you know someone who has a mild interest in outdoor cooking and entertaining, this is the book for them. Easy to read, chock full of entry level advice and fairly diverse; the Big Bad Book of Barbecue is a great gateway product. The book starts with appetizers such as guacamole and salsa and quickly moves into meats such as burgers and steaks (about 5 pages of each). Covered in the rest of the book are desserts, drinks, rubs and sauces. Like I said, it’s pretty diverse. Sadly, the beautiful photos are found in two groupings instead of next to the dish they are representing.

If you are looking for tips on how to improve competition brisket, you’re looking in the wrong place. If you want something to give to the recent college grad that just purchased their first Weber kettle, you found your gift.