Hot Off the Press (cookbook reviews published in Chile Pepper Magazine)

Foolproof BBQ

BBQ 25

by Adam Perry Lang

Everyone has stories of wrinkled, overcooked hot dogs or burgers that look like charred hockey pucks.  Well those are the days of the past.  Adam Perry Lang advances us as a grilling culture with his new book BBQ 25. Lang says barbecue is about getting “down and dirty” and he isn’t kidding.  This cookbook is wipe-able and wind resistant.  It’s not only foolproof barbecue; it’s a durable edition that you’ll want to keep in the family.

BBQ 25 is sure to be a top seller with its vivid pictures, clear illustrations of both tools and techniques, and directions no longer than 10 steps in length.  This new book is a summer must.  The images are ablaze in full color and flipping through the pages you can almost smell the smoke and taste the tender meats slowly caramelizing on his grill.  Lang guides you through the entire process from your butcher or grocer straight to the plate.  As he holds your hand and directs you with a simple finesse you’ll feel yourself quickly perfecting this most primitive rite of cooking by fire.

From “primal” preparations such as beef back ribs to the more “festive” platter of a boneless beef roast, BBQ 25 serves it up again and again with the steps you need to become a grilling god. Lang includes directions to make an herb brush for basting and a board dressing to season your cutting board. With instructions like these cooks don’t miss a single opportunity to impart flavor and seal in those essential juices.  From dry rubs to wet marinades, Lang illustrates how to impart the most flavor possible into the most accessible cuts of meat.

Simple is best and less is more with these 25 recipes straight from Lang’s own grill.  Lang’s last book, Serious Barbecue, dealt with more specialized cuts. Lang streamlined BBQ 25 and focuses on the core of grilling with “recipes that are easy to follow, and look really professional, with flavors that blow your mind.” Never again be accused of letting an animal die in vain. Grill like a trained expert and taste the difference.

Borderline Genius

The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook

by Robb Walsh

(Broadway Books; $18.99)

James Beard Award winning author, Robb Walsh, is back at it again with the Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook. This new cookbook features a style the region perfected, barbacoa or as most of us know it barbecue. From bovine anatomy to detailed descriptions of chiles and mail order sources, this book shows true fire-eaters how Texans and Mexicans and everyone on the border in-between grill some deliciously spicy meat. Equipped with descriptions of the tools you’ll need, types of grills to use and how they operate, common grilling mistakes and spice profiles for dry rubs and homemade BBQ sauces you will be begging for clear skies and some time on your hands to tear through the eighty-five plus recipes articulated in this book. There is an entire section devoted to hot salsas and pickled peppers with enough recipes to create your own glorious salsa bar with condiments to suit all your grilling delights. Walsh also covers bicultural beans and border sides showing many different techniques for the barbecue sides we love best.

But what separates this cookbook from the masses is the culture it imparts on every page. Walsh delves in with this book like a gourmet anthropologist, profiling key figures on the Tex-Mex barbecue scene including Matt Martinez, the late Mama Ninfa, and Guillermo González. There is humor and personality to this cookbook that keeps you reading along to the great side notes and history even as your stomach is rumbling from the descriptions of the food. Side notes will inform you of “five cool mariachi requests” informing you of the meaning of the lyrics as well as how to request the songs in Spanish. Walsh also clues you in to his top ten Texas microbrewery beers.

Walsh was hired by Gourmet in 2007 to write on taco trucks around the US. In this cookbook he features the highlighted trucks/pushcarts/taco buses and other mobile eateries that not only caught his eye but wet his appetite as well. See his notes on the best trucks of Portland, Oregon and Houston. From taco trucks to restaurants of high repute, Walsh takes the best of cuisine that truly embodies the unique and diverse border between Texas and Mexico. You’ll find tailgating indulgences like the San Antonio bean burger topped with refried beans, Frito chips, and often cheez whiz as well as atomic deer turds (cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped in Venison sausage). However you will turn the page to find delicacies like garlic grilled oysters and filet mignon tacos, showing that no matter what your price point this cuisine is something not only available but becoming ever more popular with the masses. Quench the fire in your belly with dorado BLT tacos or as many would know them better mahi mahi tacos and soothe the flame in your throat with a homemade watermelon margarita.

This book reads as a thrilling travel journal and will have you truly experiencing the culture of the region as you enjoy the best of the food it offers. Walsh has another gem on his hands and fans will surely delight with a further addition to his Tex-Mex series.

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2 thoughts on “Hot Off the Press (cookbook reviews published in Chile Pepper Magazine)

  1. Pingback: Hot Off the Press (cookbook reviews published in Chile Pepper … | The Top BBQ Info

  2. Pingback: Skirt Steak Salad « Cooking with Aurora

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