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4.4 out of 5 stars
Fire and Smoke: A Pitmaster's Secrets
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2014
This is a fine barbecue and grilling book. There's nothing wrong with it. It's got some recipes your average guy with a grill and/or smoker in the back yard hasn't tried and would get some mileage out of. It's decently written and well photographed. If you don't have many grilling cookbooks and want to try some new things and maybe smoke some ribs or shoulder, buy it and enjoy it. Really, it's a good cookbook.

But.

(Told you to wait for it.)

There's not much ground here that hasn't been covered by Adam Perry Lang's "Serious Barbecue," any of Jaime Purviance's Weber cookbooks like "How to Grill" and "Smoke", Steven Raichlen's "Barbecue Bible," Bobby Flay's approximately 1000 cookbooks, and so forth. They all cover some more advanced approaches, they all have some bbq and grilling recipes, they all have some snazzy drinks and appetizers, and they're all sort of interchangable. There's nothing bad about any of these, and if one has none of the others, they'd find their grilling worlds expanded. But given that they all share shelf space, I've got to question whether the grilling cookbook world really needs another big name grill champion's take on intermediate American grilling with a bit of barbecue.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
If you are a big fan of the BBQ community like I am, then you surely know who Chris Lilly is. He is a World Champion Pitmaster, and when he writes a book, you know it will be good.

I received an advance copy of this book and was hooked as soon as I opened it. If you have read any of my other cookbook reviews you know I am a fan of pictures. Especially really good pictures. And this book is loaded with really good pictures. If you pick this book up at a bookstore and look through it, you will be hooked, you will buy it.

I like to cook some recipes from a book to get an idea of how good the recipes are. The first meal I cooked was the Smoked Pork Tenderloin & Spinach Salad. It was excellent! We do a lot of pork tenderloin on the grills and smokers at my house, and they almost all come out really good. One of my sons commented at dinner that this was the best pork tenderloin he has ever eaten. That is a pretty big compliment around here because we eat pretty damn good on a regular basis at this house. And when my wife and I both run food related websites where we cook constantly and are always focused on food, you probably get the idea that we might know a thing or two about good food. Need less to say this Smoked pork Tenderloin will be added to the rotation at our house.

The second meal I cooked was the Chipotle Grilled Tri-Tip. It came out great also. The chipotle flavor came from a can of chipotle peppers in adobe and gave a fantastic flavor to the Tri-Tip. I do not use chipotle peppers in adobe often, and I do not cook Tri-Tips often, but after making this meal I realized I will be using both more often. The recipe was simple, yet very flavorful.

When I read through a cookbook I put sticky notes on the recipes I want to try. After going through this book I realized I had sticky noted about a third of the book. Over the next month I will work through those recipes. One recipe really jumped out at me because I have been wanting to do another Paella on the grill. I normally do my paella as a mainly seafood based meal. But after seeing the pictures of Chris's Barbecue Paella with Chicken, Shrimp & Chrorizo sausage, I realized this was definitely going to be my next paella. I get hungry just looking at that picture. And I know I will be sipping on his Grilled Peach Sangria recipe with that paella. What a fantastic pairing that will be.

This is a great all around BBQ book. I say that because some books are very focused on one type of cooking equipment, like smokers, or grills. This book uses everything. Its also rare to see a book using cast iron skillets on the grills, which I don't understand because those things work great on the grill. There is enough detail and variety in this book that any seasoned BBQ'r will love it, but it will also make a great gift for up and coming BBQ'rs.

The table of contents lists,
Fire in the Grill - which covers in detail EVERY type of outdoor cooking unit I have ever seen.
Grilled Cocktails.
Appetizers.
Salads & Sandwiches.
Grilled Pizza.
Bellies & Bacon.
Steaks.
Mains.
Barbeque leftovers.
Side Dishes.
Grilled desserts.
Sauces & Dry Rubs.

I think he pretty much covers it all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Typically the books I review are about Christian theology, however this summer I am reviewing a few cookbooks also. I am an avid griller; in particular I enjoy smoking meat or other foods. So when I saw Chris Lilly’s new book, Fire and Smoke: A Pitmaster’s Secrets I jumped at the chance to review it! I was not disappointed.

The book has eleven different categories of foods for grilling that range from grilled cocktails to grilled pizza to various meats and even a section that gives recipes using leftovers from your BBQ. (Who has leftovers when they BBQ!?)If you are new to grilling and smoking don’t be intimidated. Chris begins the book by discussing the various types of grills and smokers available for private use, mentioning the pro’s and con’s of each. He also talks a bit about working with wood as a smoke and heat source, giving some general guidelines.

What was good about this book:

Great recipes. I made several the first week after receiving the book, including: Cowboy Ribeye with coffee dry rub, Seasoned mustard drumsticks with peach molasses glaze, Sweet and Spicy Smoked pickles, smoked ratatouille, and smoked artichokes with spicy mayonnaise. They were excellent, though I would suggest adding sriracha to the ratatouille.
Dry rub and sauce recipes. He has many a whole section devoted to this. I used several and they were all very good.
Nice layout and photographs.

What was not so great about this book:

Serving information. For example, when I made the smoked ratatouille the serving information said “serves 10-12 people.” This might be true as an appetizer, but not as a main. I fed four adults and two kids with recipe and had just enough leftovers for two people in the end.
Some of the instructions in the book seem to be personal preference rather than essential to the recipe. Fro example: The smoked artichokes recipe says that I should allow the artichokes to chill overnight after steaming them, prior to reheating/smoking them. I did not do this and it made no drastic difference.

Bottom line:

I really enjoyed this cookbook, and plan on keeping it around this summer as I grill. It was informative, well laid out, and full of great recipes that I will make again in the future. If you are considering buying a fun summer cookbook, or want to try your hand at grilling, this is a good place to begin.Here is a picture of the smoked ratatouille that I made.

About the Author:

CHRIS LILLY is vice president, executive chef, and partner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. The Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team has won ten World BBQ Championships, six world titles at “Memphis in May,” and the American Royal International Cook-off and BBQ Sauce Competition. Lilly is married to the great-granddaughter of BBQ legend Big Bob Gibson and is the author of Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book.

Publisher’s Synopsis:

World champion pitmaster Chris Lilly combines the speed of grilling with the smoky flavors of low-and-slow barbecue for great meals any night of the week, no fancy equipment required. Cook trout in a cast-iron skillet nestled right in smoldering coals for a crispy yet tender and flaky finish. Roast chicken halves in a pan on a hot grill, charring the skin while capturing every bit of delicious juice. Infuse delicious smoke flavors into fruits and vegetables, even cocktails and desserts. Fire and Smoke gives you 100 great reasons to fire up your grill or smoker tonight.

I received this book for free from the publisher’s Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2014
There are a lot of grilling and barbeque cookbooks out today, but only a few dig deep into expert guidance and new flavor profiles that haven't been seen before. Chris Lilly's latest book, "Fire & Smoke: A Pitmaster's Secrets" breaks the mold and offers dozens of recipes that open your mind to create new things around the grill or pit. Much like his first book "Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book," Lilly doesn't hold back and tells the whole story of how to create amazing meats, sides, and more. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to take their grilling or barbeque to the next level.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2015
I'm a semi-professional BBQ cook and I collect these cookbooks and I'm always interested in new ones that come out. When I saw that Chris Lilly had another book on the market, I snatched one up and I'm glad I did. I already own the Big Bob Gibson book and it's great in its own rite, but this new offering from Chris Lilly is more than that. This book covers a much wider variety of grill and barbecue fun that the typical restaurant and competition BBQ fare.

Another reviewer made a comparison between this book and some of the Adam Perry Lang books, which I own also, that I don't believe are quite 'fair' in terms of scope. Lang's books are great stuff and I also recommend owning those, but Lang's cooks are at a different level. This book is for the everyday BBQ and grilling enthusiast. The recipes and techniques in this book are NOT complicated and quite easy to produce. This is the book that I'll be recommending to those folks who come to me with the "I bought a new grill and I want to learn how to get the most or get more out of it" questions. Don't let comparisons with other books in this genre lead you away from opening the cover on this one. You won't be disappointed!

I'd also like to mention that the photography and graphic design in this book is outstanding. There is NOTHING better to accompany a great recipe than an even better photo!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2014
Given then the Big Bob Gibson BBQ book is one of my favorites on the subject I was a little unsure if Chris could match it with his 2nd book.....but I think I he may have topped it with this one.

Fire and smoke is great....really well written and the pictures are awesome.....and of course most importantly the recipes are top notch. Everything I've made so far has been great.

If you want to step up your outdoor cooking a bit from the norm then this book can help you on that road....I recommend it highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2014
I got this book for my dad as a Father’s Day surprise and I am completely blown away by it.Chris Lilly shows that grilling is a dynamic branch of culinary skills and is so much more than hot dogs and hamburgers. His recieps include drinks, sides, main courses and even a grilled lemonade recipe. This book has a great personal touch, a fresh view on cooking and wonderful photographs.
First of all, I don’t think there is any cook that couldn’t learn something or be inspired by the amazing recipes in Fire and Smoke.
Lilly even breaks it down to the basics, and includes information about different kinds of heat sources and even different woods that can change your grilling experience. I highly recommend this book.
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on August 4, 2014
I got this book at the beginning of the summer and have been slowly paging through it collecting ideas, drooling over the exceptional photos from the hunger they inspire! I'm not a big cookbook guy, generally wanting a recipe so I can get to work, no fluff needed kind of guy. But this book is magnificent! The images are so great that I find myself wanting to eat things I know I'd never eat!! Really great work done there.

Then in the area that really matters, the food itself, this book is spot on. Chris Lilly is vice president, executive chef, and partner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, and he brings the good stuff. If he is holding back anything I'd be amazed (no "secret sauce" recipes, though he does give rub and sauce recipes). In the world of BBQ, Lilly has the pedigree needed to be immediately accepted as an expert in the field. Then reading through the book, it quickly becomes apparent that he knows his stuff in a way that makes it fun to cook and eat. Some of the recipes are quite involved, but many are things that a true novice in the kitchen and behind the grill could readily reproduce.

How great is this book? So great that I gave a copy to my buddy Brenton Balvin who regularly fills in preaching for me when I need a week off. I love this book so much that I was excited to bless him with a copy of it as well. While it might not mean much to you, that I'd give it to a trusted friend like that speaks volumes of how well I like this book.

I've read a handful of BBQ books over the years, and I would readily say that this one doesn't cover a whole lot of new territory when it comes to foods to cook, or even ways to prepare that food. It's all been said and done somewhere else by someone else. But that in no way disqualifies this book. You find in its pages excellent recipes for beef, pork, chicken, fish, vegetables - just about anything you can put over fire there is something in that category. There are also cocktail recipes, how to cook a pizza on a grill details, and much, much more. In a fairly small book it covers a lot of ground giving you something that you could use to wow friends and families off your grill for years to come. Having your boss over for dinner this summer? Start and end here. You will impress.

Will this book replace Steven Raichlen's The Barbecue Bible? No, it isn't as comprehensive as Raichlen. But it doesn't have to either. This book offers a little something from nearly every category imaginable for grilling, and doesn't get bogged down being what it isn't. There is room on your shelf for both, and both will serve you well. It has a very readable introduction to the tools of the trade, and then gets right down to business with what to make and how to make it, with exceptional photographs of it all throughout. This book makes me want to grill. This book makes me want to eat. That is the measure, for me at least, of whether it is worth owning. It is.
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on August 28, 2014
I am new to smoking and wanted a book to get me started. This book is a good beginning.

The author starts off with a great overview of all the smoking options. Different types of grills and boxes are explained along with what they are ideal for, their convenience level, and how they are at indirect cooking. This section is excellent if you are just deciding what to buy and where to begin.

Every recipe in the book has it clearly shown: the cooking method, suggested wood, and cooking time. This is great information for deciding whether it is a recipe you can pull off now or need to go to the store first. Most of the recipes call for easily attainable items. They are only a few thing that I have never heard of (cherry jalapeño jelly).

By far my favorite thing in the book is a simple rub called Hog Shake. I mixed up a batch and used it on some back ribs. It was excellent. I will continue to use that. Another favorite was Drip Pan Potatoes. It calls for cooking them in the smoker underneath the meat. It was fun because each one tasted a little different based on what fell on it.

If you are looking for a great book to get you started in smoking and grilling, pick this up.

I was provided this book for review by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing in exchange for my unbiased review.
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on July 17, 2014
I have really been enjoying the cookbook, Fire & Smoke: A Pitmaster's Secrets by the Chris Lilly. It has a ton of amazing BBQ recipes. It has everything from your BBQ standards like ribs and chicken to crazy things like a whole chapter on BBQed drinks. There is a terrific chapter at the beginning of the book where the author talks about all of the different types of BBQ pits and smokers that are available.

Since receiving the Fire & Smoke: A Pitmaster's Secrets I have cooked chicken thighs on my charcoal BBQ grill. Up until now I had always cooked them and hoped they came out well. This time I was able to use the author's chicken thigh recipe and really dig into cooking them well. The recipe gave directions on such things as how to arrange my coals, wood recommendations for adding a smoked flavor, and time for cooking. I ended up using my own spice rub, but the one the author provided in the book looked tasty. There are many other amazing recipes in this cookbook that I am anxiously waiting to try. It also has given my wife a christmas present idea. Hey honey, want to by a smoker...?

We will be dining in his restaurant at the next chance we get!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.
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