63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2010
Wivott's book has useful information and is a valuable introductory text, making it a wise purchase with your first smoker; however, I have to agree that the condescension and unyielding purist approach are unjustified. You will definitely save yourself time learning how to start and operate a decent fire, but Wivott sanctimoniously offers merely one of many schools of thought on cooking while demanding complete reverence, and the recipes contained within really aren't a religious experience, they're just pretty good. Add to that the limited scope (a previous reviewer was correct, the book contains about five basic recipes), and the clear dominance of Wivott's palate throughout, and the book is simply an okay guide, nothing more. It is a good place to start if you are new to barbeque, and a great place to start if you've never cooked in your life. Unfortunately, it's written only for the latter. It would be easy to dismiss my thoughts as a reader who simply "didn't get it," but I honestly don't think that's the case. As a teacher, Wivott tries to save the reader many of the lessons he has learned the hard way by insisting we do it right every time, straight from the beginning, with proper technique and without asking questions. I just happen to think barbeque should be a fun, organic experience, and so should the learning curve. I hated taking piano lessons as a child, which is unfortunate, because that is exactly what this feels like.
A final technical note: I purchased Low & Slow after buying the largest Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, but the only model in production when the book was written was the 18.5" version. With as specific as the instructions in the book are, if using the 22.5" WSM, you'll find you already have to vary from the program.
64 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2009
I buy far too many cook books. I have everything from the Cooks Illustrated line-up to some Food Network/ PBS shows, etc.
This has to be the best instructional cook book I have read.
This book is not a sum total of recipes, nor is it a compilation of how the technique was developed... It is a lesson plan. It is very much a course in how to barbecue and after you have learned each lesson you will truly know how to read what is going on with your fire and food.
You won't have to go search a website to find out the amount of time you should leave ribs on and at what temperature. You won't have to purchase some digital thermometer or fancy temp control. No more guessing, speculating, or making things much more difficult than they need to be.
After all, should barbecue be that difficult? This is the book that will teach you how, it will give you the skills. You can use this with a weber smokey mountain, an offset, or... a kettle grill!
Now, there are also some great recipes in the book to boot! You'll learn some flavorful marinades and you'll learn the basics of a marinade so that you can whip one up from scratch! The same with brines and with rubs! Being able to create these things successfully from scratch is what separates the ok bbq'er from the great and confident one.
There is also a whole section on what to do with leftovers. I had some smoked chicken left over and used one of the recipes... now I smoke the chicken just to make left overs. By the way, it is the best chicken I've bbq'ed. And it is so fast and easy now that I've done it a couple times.
I can't say enough good things about this book! It is a steal for the price, GET IT!
On a side note, it is really damn fun to work your way through the lessons as well :)
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2009
Wow...this book is awesome. I never really knew how to use a smoker, and this book is the bomb with easy to understand instructions. The best smoked meat I've ever had is now what I cook! There are also fabulous recipes for sauces, sides and so much more! This book would make a great Father's Day gift, but I bought one just for me!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2009
Most of the BBQ books that I have read, are just a collection of BBQ recipes. For me this is the best BBQ book that I have read. An excellent method that guide you on how to handle your charcoal and then guide you in preparing a BBQ chicken recipe all the way to preparing an excellent pull pork. One of the best things is that all recipes are designed depending on the capacity and type of your BBQ. One drawback is that only explain the use of three different type of smoker and that Gary is truly a fan of charcoal grilling. If you have a gas bbq, this is not the book for you. At the contrary, the recipes are all well organized and quite simple to prepare apart from the use of extremely hot ingredients and mixes of peppers. I recommend this book to everyone that want to know the secrets of preparing good smoke BBQ.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Well, I guess I'm going to have to apologize to Gary Wiviott! When I first got this book, I was turned off by what I perceived as his condescending tone, his know-it-all approach and his waste of charcoal. After going through the first four "lessons" in the book, I now realize that this book flat out WORKS for preparing fantastic BBQ! I prepared spare ribs yesterday following his instructions and recipes and they received rave reviews from my family. A couple of weeks ago, I prepared baby back ribs that were better than anything I've ever had in any restaurant! My chicken BBQ been great too!
Sorry Gary Wiviott! I was wrong, you were right!
For anyone who is not already aware, the book is organized as a series of 5 lessons in making great BBQ. The lessons were originally created for the fantastic Weber Smokey Mountain smoker and were published for free on his web site. This year, Gary expanded the lessons to include directions for an offset smoker and for a kettle grill. He also added numerous excellent recipes for various rubs, washes, marinades, and sauces as well as side dishes and recipes for using the leftovers. The only thing he doesn;t cover is brisket, but once you master the techniques he teaches, you won't have any trouble with brisket.
My next cook will be the pulled pork cooking a Boston butt roast. Based on my experience with the chicken and ribs, the pork butt is going to turn out great!
I have a Weber Smokey Mountain smoker, a Weber Kettle grill and a Weber gas grill. I have only followed the instructions for the Smokey Mountain. So, i can't comment on his other instructions, but I woulod bet that they are right on as well!
When you get the book, my advice is to ignire all the blustering. Also, know that you don't have to do everything EXACTLY as he says, but you shouldn't stray too far. For example, Wiviott says to ONLY use lump charcoal. I used Kingsford regular charcoal (NOT the Matchlight) and everything has turned out great. The timing he gives is not exact, but is close enough for you to do quite well. He also deliberately has you to use too much charcoal. I realize now, that this is so that you are not changing too many variables from one cook to the next. The main difference between the cooks is the timing and the vent settings. He wants you to learn your Smoker first, and then start trying other things like optimizing your charcoal amount. so go ahead and bu extra charcoal for now. You can adjust later.
One thing to definitely follow is to use the Weber Chimney starter to start your charcoal. I have used all available methods of starting charcoal and the Weber Chimney Starter is the best method, bar none. Just follow Wiviott's instructions and use three sheets of newspaper prepared as he tells you and your charcoal starting will be fool proof.
By the way, the best price anywhere for the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker is on Amazon!
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2009
Gary Wiviott's "LOW & SLOW" should be required reading with every smoker sold. Prof. Wiviott has been there, made the mistakes, learned from them and now passes on his experience and knowledge. Do what he says, because he has done it and knows it works, and you will turn out real Barbecue. The book is a complete walk thru on learning true Barbecue. Do it and you will be doing it right. Plus there is the added bonus of recipes that taste good. This author knows food, prepares food, and shares it all. I have no hesitation in a full reccommendation of "LOW & SLOW."
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2010
I've been looking for books online and at bookstores that give good tips about low and slow barbeque. There's a couple that give the odd helpful hint here and there, if you have the time and patience to find it. I've read reviews for almost 50 books here on Amazon, including Gary Wiviott's book right here. I read a couple reviews that say he's condescending and dogmatic about things. I wasn't sure that it would be the book for me until I noticed someone on the Amazon Marketplace was selling one for a price too good to pass up. I bit down and bought it, and I haven't been disappointed for a second.
I'm relatively new to smoking meat, but I still knew a thing or two. That said, this book is going to be enormously helpful. There's more gold nuggets in the first thirty pages than I've found on the entire internet. Helpful hints fill almost every page. Mr. Wiviott's plan makes perfect sense if you follow it. Whether or not you are a "Master" after the five lessons is debatable, but who cares. If you do what he says in the lessons, you can do what you want when you're done. It's like taking art classes and studying the master artists- you do it like them until you know how to do it your own way. Why read a book by a teacher and complain about doing what he says?
Some of those low reviews are ridiculous, especially the one by the guy who only does one star reviews. These cyber cowboys complain about the way he writes because they're not used to somebody ponying up and saying, "this is the way to do it if you want to follow my program." Wiviott tells you what you need and what you don't need. He also describes, in detail, how to do these cooks on 3 different types of smokers: the Weber Smokey Mountain, the offset smoker (which is what I use), and the kettle grills that so many people already own. Notice there is no instruction for gas grills- something that Wiviott makes a good joke of in the book. I suppose if you don't want to use a wood fire, maybe the gas pipe is exactly what you need.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2012
This author would have you believe BBQ is all touchy feel-y and instinct, while unprofessionally dissing other authors who provide a more structured and complete picture on the subject. A smoker uses fire over a long period of time and there is no substitute for keeping a log of your first few cooks to discover how long and how hot a given load of fuel at a certain vent setting is going to run in your new smoker. What he wants you to do is follow his simplified directions "off the cuff" instead of tracking this stuff yourself. You'll become dependent, not independent that way though. So follow his first few cooks (or find identical instructions on the web), but do yourself a favor and keep a log of the temperatures and results as you go. You'll learn much faster.
There are two authors of this book and maybe that explains why the recipes portion is done properly: there are examples along with a good explanation of the basic components and their purpose so you can become independent quickly and begin making your own stuff. Kudos there.
Oh, and by they way, the author is misinformed about briquette ingredients so skip that part (hard to do since he throws his opinion in your face over and over and...) And, a thermometer wire going through the vent will not affect airflow since it probably blocks about 1% of it (solved via math, not instinct).
I wouldn't have bought this book had I been able to browse it well in a store, but I'll keep it anyway for the ingredients instruction.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2009
If you want to graduate beyond the boring and typical grilling of burgers and chicken over lighter-fluid-drenched briquettes, this is probably the book for you. LOW & SLOW covers all the basics, from equipment choices to building and maintaining the perfect cooking fire. I've covered four out of the five basic lessons, and the resulting improvement in my BBQ skills have produced some incredibly delicious meals.
The only thing I didn't like about the book was Wiviott's "grizzled ol' curmudgeon" tone. Frankly, I'm a grown man, and I don't care to be addressed as an idiot or a child. Writing in such a way is the author's prerogative, but I'd have preferred to have this information presented without all the cheap "character." If I want character, I'll read a novel.
All that said, get the book if you're serious about learning how to do real BBQ. At this point, silly tone aside, there's no better book that I know of on the subject available.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2009
This guy walks you thru the barbequing process like a drill sargent at a Marine Boot Camp. But when it's over you'll be glad you did it his way!
The book is all about the technique of smoking (on a Weber Smoky Mountain (best), or Kettle, or any type of smoker), but it has lots of recipes too.
Why go thru all the hassle of experimenting with different times, amounts of wood or charcoal, or opening and closing vents, when this guy has done it all for you, eliminating 95% of the guess work!
The book is hardly the price of a slab of ribs anyway, so just buy it!