Thursday, May 7, 2009

Review: 25 Essentials: Techniques for Smoking

25 Essentials: Techniques for Smoking

By: Ardie A. Davis

Publisher: The Harvard Common Press

127 pages

This is a crafty book, written by a legendary figure in competition BBQ. Although 25 Essentials isn’t designed to appear as a tutorial and a comprehensive introduction to the art of smoking, that is exactly what it is. The first seven pages are dedicated to introducing basic concepts, but that is standard for most books on BBQ. What follows are recipes that are designed to allow the reader to master new skills and techniques one at a time as they work their way through the book.

The book is hard-cover but spiral (tight) bound. Aside the recipes are lush, beautiful photos. It’s become a bit of a cliché, but don’t read this book on an empty stomach. Each recipe is comprised of four pages. There is an introduction and description on the first page, a photo on the next page, an ingredient list follows and then the cooking technique wraps everything up.

By the time you make your way through this book you will have had a solid and thorough introduction to pairing wood with meat, using equipment that you already have (such as a kettle or propane grill), using charcoal chimneys, creating and using wood chips, beer can smoking and how to trim and prepare meat. All of the standards are covered here, including vegetables, meats, poultry, fish and side dishes.

There have been a number of books that we have reviewed that we have designated as an excellent primer for someone new to the hobby of smoking. 25 Essentials: Techniques for Smoking tops them all. If I had a friend who was starting out and I wanted to get him started this would be the perfect gift.

The book is sparse, but it achieves its goal with room to spare. Retailing for $12.95, the cost is less than that of some bags of charcoal and is infinitely more useful.


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