Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review - Ultimate Book of BBQ

I received an email a couple weeks ago asking if I would be interested in reviewing a BBQ cook book. My initial response was, "Is this a trick question?" I'm always looking for new recipes, tips on cooking and just improving my BBQ skills in general.

I agreed to review Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ - the complete year-round guide to grilling & smoking. A couple days later I received it and two other grilling books which I will be reviewing later.

Pitmaster Christopher Prieto of PRIME Barbecue in Wendell, NC has worked with Southern Living to compile over 200 recipes, creating a hefty cook book that covers the basics to the finer points of BBQ.

Initial Impressions

When I get a book I like to glance through it to get an idea of how the book is laid out and to see if it looks interesting to me. The Ultimate Book of BBQ is a soft cover book, which I like. It's not a paper back but coated cover that will stand up to kitchen splashes and protect the book from spills. It also allows the book to lay flatter when opened.

Flipping through it the pictures really captured my attention. They are gorgeous and make my mouth water. I could almost smell the food in some of them. I also noticed various callouts from different Pitmasters from around the country. There are, BBQ&A, Try This (variations on the recipes) and Pit Tips. These little call outs help to remind you that there is more then one way to cook BBQ and can help you figure out what works for you.

My initial thought was this book has some great info, will be a great addition to my cooking collection and give me new ideas.
Table of contents spread.


The book is organized in a logical way. It starts with a definition of BBQ, gives a little history of it and talks about variations around the USA. Then it talks about the meats with diagrams of the animals and where the various cuts come from and then moves into the various cookers and fuel.

Once you're educated on the meat and cookers, it moves into the recipes with low & slow cooking. Each meat has its own section where Christopher goes in depth on how to cook it with variations. One of the things I really liked was the variaty of recipes. There are lots of ideas in each section for using left over meat in different dishes. When ever I cook BBQ I try to figure out ways to use the leftovers (if there are any) in other dishes.

Next he talks about hot & fast grilling and takes you through the different cuts and various recipes for that. He moves on to Rainy Day BBQ, which was the hardest section for me. It deals with cooking "BBQ" in the oven or crockpot. Ok, I'm a BBQ snob and don't believe that cooking these cuts of meat in the oven or crock pot and adding sauce makes it BBQ. But that's just me. After thinking about it for a bit I realized that not everyone has a BBQ pit and can play with fire well. These recipes help out and allow those that don't cook with fire to experience some of the flavors of BBQ and many of the other recipes in the book.

The book continues onto sides and rubs and sauces. Each of the recipes look great and give me some ideas to use this summer at cookouts and get togethers. They also include a metric equivalent chart in the back for our BBQ brothers and sisters across the pond.

Trial recipe

The Ultimate Book of BBQ
Pork Noodle Bowl
I tried one of the recipes in the book with some left over pulled pork I had. It was the pork noodle bowl. I love pho soup but to make it right takes time. This is a quick and easy recipe that captures the flavors but doesn't take long to put together. There are other recipes similar to this throughout the book.
Pork Noodle Bowls (reprinted with permission)
This fresh and tasty Asian dish is a great way to utilize pulled  pork. Make it a party and serve the toppings in small bowls  for everyone to garnish as they like.
Yield: 4 servings     Total: 45 Minutes 
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt 1 (8.8-oz.) package thin rice noodles 
  • 1⁄2 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms 
  • 2 tsp. olive oil 2 cups Smoked Pork Butt, without sauce (page 84) 
  • 1⁄2 (16-oz.) package angel hair coleslaw mix 
  • 4 green onions (white and light green parts only), sliced 
  • 1⁄4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves 
  • 6 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger (optional) 
  • Lime wedges 
  • Toppings: soy sauce, dried crushed red pepper, chopped dry-roasted peanuts
My Pork Noodle Bowl
  1. Microwave 8 cups water and kosher salt at HIGH in a large microwave-safe glass bowl  2 minutes. Submerge noodles; let stand 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Divide noodles  among 4 bowls.
  2. Sauté mushrooms in hot oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or  until tender. Spoon over noodles. Add pork to skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally,  5 minutes or until hot; spoon over mushrooms. Divide coleslaw mix and next 2 ingredients  among bowls.
  3. Bring broth and, if desired, ginger to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and divide among bowls. Serve with lime wedges and desired toppings.


I like this book. I like it a lot; from the size of it, to the information in it, to the recipes and the pictures. I have a feeling I will be using this book often. On the Gibbs Ribs scale* this book gets a full rack. It is informative, well organized and beautiful. It is good for beginners and long time cookers who are looking for some new ideas.

*When I do reviews, books or otherwise, I rate the items with ribs (they are my favorite BBQ dish). A full rack is great and a single rib is poor. I will tend to stick to a full rack, half rack or one rib.

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