Pros: gives you all you need to know to throw an unforgettable BBQ Bash
Cons: doesn't stray too far from all the Southern Classics
I'm a Northern boy, born and raised. Born in Indiana, I spent most of my childhood out East, in eastern Pennsylvania and Vermont. But I spent a good bit of my cooking career down South, in New Orleans and Atlanta where I became a connoisseur of "real" barbeque. My backyard and garage is littered with a host of grills and smokers, most of which I use on a regular basis. Needless to say, I've picked up quite a few books on the topic of barbeque, some in depth reference guides to the chemical processes involved in proper smoking and preserving via smoke, some written by championship pit masters, and many loaded with 100s of recipes for every aspect of throwing a good barbeque, from the cooking of the meats to recipes for just about every side dish and beverage to accompany that meat. I really had no need for yet another book on Barbeque, but I recently acquired a copy of "Brother Jimmy's BBQ - More Than 100 Recipes for Pork, Beef, Chicken and the Essential Southern Sides" and I'm very happy that I picked this up.
The book is written by Josh Lebowitz, owner of Brother Jimmy's BBQ ( a small chain of excellent restaurants in NYC) along with Eva Pesantez and Sean Evans. There might be some people that scoff at the idea of a New Yorker writing a good cookbook about barbeque, but knowing the reputation that Brother Jimmy's has, looking at, and testing a few recipes, and being a Northern boy myself with a deep love of barbeque, I can tell you; this is the real deal.
To call this a barbeque cookbook really doesn't capture it's scope. Sure, there are recipes for barbequed ribs, pulled pork, and smoked brisket, along with some great rubs and sauces, but this book goes far beyond to explore all the great Southern Classics. You'll find recipes for Chicken and Waffles (a Southern tradition that should become a tradition across the US!), Gumbo, BLT's made with Fried Green Tomatoes. There's Hush puppies, Fried Okra, and Red Velvet cake as well as a few new takes on home cooking such as BBQ Meatloaf and Bourbon Molasses Pot Roast. And for those with lighter appetites there are a few tempting salads and a whole chapter devoted to cooking seafood on the grill. And you can't forget all the fantastic , alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, found in this book
As wonderful as all the recipes are though, this isn't what sets this book apart for me. What really set this book apart is Lebowitz's desire to help you create an event out of your next barbeque bash. He litters the book with helpful hints, not just for cooking but for setting the stage for great party to accompany your meal. One of my favorite parts of the book is the numerous playlists he shares with the reader to help set the mood, each one a mix of rock, country and blues, with both new songs and timeless classics used to help set the stage.
It's not often, anymore, that I come across a ccokbook that makes me want to drop what I'm going and get cooking, let alone gets me excited to host an entire party, but reading "Brother Jimmy's BBQ," I'm ready to fire up my grill and smoker and host a neighborhood block party. Unfortunately, as I write this we have just gotten our first snow of the season so it looks like my party will have to wait until next Spring. But, guaranteed, when I do throw my party...and I will throw one, this book will be an integral part of what I do.
While there are certainly many more "interesting" recipes in this book, it is a barbeque book, at it's heart, so I feel a barbeque recipe is what I should share. This recipe is for barbequed ribs slathered in a very recognizable sauce. It might not be the most regional of barbeque but it is one that most people in the country are familiar with.
Northern Style Ribs
3 racks St. Louis-style ribs
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
3-4 cups Brother Jimmy's Original BBQ Sauce (see below)
1. Prepare you smoker or grill for barbecuing, using the indirect heat setup with a drip pan in place, and preheated to 210°F.
2 Pat the ribs dry, then season with the salt.
3. Pour some water in the drip pan and place some presaoded wood chunks or a packet of presoaked wood chips directly on the hot coals. Oil the hot grat and place the ribs in your grill or smoker, meat side up. Cover and smoke for a total of 6 hours. After about 5 hours, begin to baste the ribs with the BBQ Sauce about every 20 minutes. The ribs are done when the meat cracks when picked up (with tongs) and they reach an internal temperature of 170 to 180°F.
4. To finsh the ribs, throw them on the grill over direct medium heat and let the sauce caramelize. Baste between turns, and you're done.
Brother Jimmy's Original BBQ Sauce
-makes about 5 cups
2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups Heinz ketchup (if you use another brand the taste will be different)
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a nonreactive saucepan, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil.
2. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce just coats the back of a wooden spoon-it's not intended to be overly thick.
3. Cool and use immediately or store for later use in the fridge, where it will keep for 2 to 3 months.