And I’ll preempt any smart remarks by saying I don’t want books I can barbecue.
However, I want to learn how to “barbecue” --not “grill.” I have several
books that claim to be about barbecuing, but are really about grilling or
indirect grilling. In fact, one I own that is called “The BBQ Bible,” proceeds
to say how barbecuing is defined as low and slow cooking, but then has
dozens of recipes on how to grill food.
Anyway, are there any books out there about how to cook 14-hour Boston Butt
or ribs or brisket or whatever “true” BBQ is and not merely another book on
grilling? I have enough books on grilling. Or is it just learn by experience?
I’d suggest BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen. Good recipes, good explanation of the various styles, nicely illustrated, gets the difference between grilling and making barbecue.
Raichlen’s How to Grill is the best all-around outdoor cooking book I’ve seen. As you’d expect, there are plenty of grilling recipes in there, but it covers barbecue as well. (I bought it when I picked it up and it fell open to “How to Barbecue a Whole Pig”.)
I’ve also heard that Serious Barbecue by Adam Perry Lang is good. It appears to cover grilling and barbecue, but I don’t know what the ratio is. I’ve embargoed myself from buying any more cookbooks until July (the collection was getting ridiculous), but this is the first one I’m picking up when it’s over.
Until a couple of months ago Wiviott had the 5 step program online. I used his method and the results were great - not good, great! Now he has apparently taken it all down so he can sell his secrets for filthy money, the bastard. None the less, I will be buying this book.
Keep in mind that it is a book about low heat, slow (as in hours) cooking. I’m pretty sure it’s not about grilling steaks or hotdogs.
Thirded, fourthed, whatever. This is the print version of his on-line 5-step program (which you can still find if you search archive.org for wiviott.com). I would definitely recommend the book, as it includes directions for offset smokers and Weber kettles, in addition to the Weber Smokey Mountain (which the original was based on), and it contains tons of recipes and additional tips. Basically, Wiviott’s whole philosophy is to make good barbecue you need to learn fire control and to trust your senses. Don’t futz with the meat, you don’t have to have thermometer probes and expensive gadgets everywhere. Just a good, clean fire that you know how to control.
His approach is to teach through five cooks, and he absolutely does not want you to skip ahead, as each lesson builds on the previous. I very much endorse his barbecue philosophy and, once you get it down, you can really cook great barbecue on any type of cooker. My biggest triumph was making pulled pork on a cheap little $20 camping grill, using nothing extra but a waterpan to control the heat. I wouldn’t have thought it possible–and it was a total pain in the ass refilling the coals several times an hour (you needed little coal to get the heat), but, after 12 hours, it came out as good if not better than any barbecue I’ve made on a proper smoker. The book really teaches you the art and gives you the tools, knowledge, and experience to adapt your skills to many different situations.