Peace, Love and Barbeque
Outdoor Cookbook Review
Excellent Book on Smoking
I've been looking for the PERFECT Barbeque book for ages. There are a lot out there but not a one that really captured my fancy until the dad-person came in with Peace Love and Barbeque—Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies from the Legends of Barbecue.
Peace Love and Barbeque is way more than a cookbook. Really now, smoking meat is much more than firing up the charcoal. So, a que book without the stories is somehow lacking something like the rub (that sets one shoulder apart from the next). And, these stories are varied from all around the country and range from interesting to outright hilarious. This one is kind of like a family scrapbook chock full of all the memories that make it worth the time and effort to invest hours into a meal instead of tossing something in the microwave.
You can flip to any page and get caught up in the stories of barbeque fanatics. One of my favorites was about an old guy who made first rate barbeque. Several folks bragged that they'd talked him out of his recipe. When comparing notes, they all discovered that he'd given them all different recipes. Guess who was laughing at the end.
Though some folks do share barbeque secrets and full, detailed recipes, many guard the "goods" with some taking the recipes to the grave. Around here, Keaton was the king of barbeque chicken. Back in the 70s kids would cut classes to drive out and grub on that chicken, and they probably still do. The place was always packed with customers ranging from kids cutting school to business executives to farmers, and the modest cinder block building was "way out in the country" (which is saying a lot around here). Keaton eventually went on to his heavenly reward, and legend has it that he never did share his recipe. A daughter still runs the joint, but the chicken just isn't quite the same.
Here is another story sample from Peace, Love and Barbeque and one that made me smile . . .
"Mamma Faye was tickled to death once when someone asked her for the recipe for her Thanksgiving dressing. She sat right down and very carefully wrote it out. It began, 'Take as much bread as you think you're going to need for the number of people you think you're going to serve . . .'"
That's pretty much how it goes with barbeque and barbeque cooks. It's much more art than science, and that's reflected in this book. That doesn't mean that you won't get loads of great advice and some pretty specific recipes (including ones that probably took some real arm twisting to get).
Mike (the author) has a section called "A Dry Rub Primer." He notes that some things like apple pie spice just do not belong in barbeque. "If he'd asked my opinion, I would've told him that apple pie spice belongs in apple pies or in baked goods," notes Mike. He goes on to give a "Getting Started" list for making rub and then has a "Do Use" and "Don't Use" chart that helps on customization.
There's a whole section on barbeque tips. It includes things like a temperature chart with various cuts of meat, temperatures and approximate times. Meats range from ribs (no surprise) to bologna (hum?).
There are all sorts of recipes for smoked meat of course plus rubs and sauces, but also loads of sides and even desserts are included as well. They even have our local favorite Lexington Red Slaw which is a hot and spicy cabbage slaw that is, of course, red in color.
If you don't feel up to cranking up the smoker, then you'll find a list of the best barbeque restaurants across the country in the resource section. They left out our local joints here in Salisbury, NC, and that's something that will put folks up in arms around here. I've never met a barbequer who didn't think his or her stuff was the best ever. Oh well, maybe the author just hasn't made it out here yet. Perhaps I should send him a list and map.
The author of the book and the collector of the barbeque tales is a legend in barbeque having won the Grand World Champion "Super Bowl of Swine" title three times in Memphis. He's the BBQ master at six major smoke joints. His collaborator and partner in crime is his daughter, Amy Mills Tunnicliffe. That's just somehow fitting, since it does seem that barbeque kind of runs in the family.
Mike discusses the big competitions in this book too, so if you had a mind to get on the contest circuit, you'd get a little taste of how those work too. It sounds like a real hoot. I'm not sure that I'd ever go that whole hog, but I'd love to drop in and see one of these big smoke offs.
I can't think of anything about barbeque not covered here. The book is jammed full of all kinds of information—helpful and entertaining. In fact, I've been spending so much time flipping through the book that I haven't even had time to smoke up any meat just lately.
Peace, Love and Barbeque runs around $18. It's a big book—about the size of a typical college text at 342 pages. The lay out and design is fabulous. You can start at the front and read along or just open to any page and get caught up in the history and stories of barbeque. There are a good number of cool photos in black and white. These look like home shots saved and treasured. The index in the back is pretty good though I had trouble finding the white barbeque sauce for chicken which I saw featured on a PBS special. That one is mayonnaise based and one that I've been wanting to try out. Guess I'll have to put the book down and get the chicken going or we'll be reading about great food and eating grilled cheese sandwiches.