on May 8, 2009
I have read enough of this book, to be able to say; "I think it's a great book." I own a lot of barbecue related cookbooks and I have had the great good fortune, as the moderator of BBQForum.com, to have read over 700,000 posts to the forum by BBQ people. So I have been exposed to a lot of barbecue. This is one of the best books, about barbecue and outdoor cooking in general.
In 2005 I did a podcast interview with Adam and I have read his detailed posts to the forum. I have never actually meet Adam in person. However, I know a little bit about Adam. He knows how to cook and not only that, he knows what happens to food when it's cooking and can explain it to you. The book really focuses on layering flavors. So, when people taste food cooked the way he explains it, they are in for taste treats, one after another.
With all my 14 years of daily exposure to the wisdom of some of the top barbecue cooks in the country and all the cookbooks I have read, you would think I would have a good grasp of the situation. But, in reading this book I am learning a lot of new things.
I don't hand out these compliments lightly. This is not just a "low and slow pure barbecue" cookbook but he carries his knowledge of "pure barbecue" (he has won prestigious "pure barbecue" awards to back this up) into all levels of outdoor cooking. There is a lot of direct grilling and indirect smoking information. I don't care if you're an expert cook or a beginner, you will get a lot out of reading this book.
on May 13, 2009
I think that Adam Perry Lang has become the E.F. Hutton of barbecue enthusiasts......when he talks, barbecue people listen.....even a few of the pros! In this book, Adam cuts right to the chase and dispels all of the rhetoric about what is and isn't barbecue and how it should and should not be cooked.
I love the way he builds flavor profiles by layering the ingredients and the steps of the cooking process, using some procedures that many barbecue purists frown on when making barbecue. It's pretty amusing reading the recipes that call for foiling as a step to making good barbecue. Whatever works to make the best barbecue he can, Adams isn't at all bashful about doing it. I like that!
I also love that there is no "I'm a better barbecue cook than you" ego written throughout this book, unlike a couple of those written by a self-titled "dr" of bbq. This book reads like Adam's sitting out on the deck with his feet propped, having a cold one with pals and talking Que. No sarcastic anecdotes here.
With over 100 barbecue related cookbooks in my arsenal as reference and many cooking techniques I thought were pretty sound, Serious Barbecue has me rethinking some of the ways I make barbecue. A must own barbecue book!
I am already a fan of Adam Perry Lang, as I have eaten at his restaurant, Daisy Mays, on numerous occasion and have always loved the food.
I bought Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste and Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking, because both my husband and I love to barbecue. I make my own sauces--and they are miles better than any commercial sauce--but was ready to try some new recipes.
I have flipped through the book and recognize recipes that I have already had at the restaurant--and will definitely make them. Some winners include Short Ribs with Fleur de Sel, sticky drumsticks, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Banana and Brown Sugar.
I like the different cooking methods Lang employs, and intend to try all of them this summer.
Keep in mind, however, that many of these recipes take time and many ingredients to make. The short ribs, for instance, require several steps to make. Lang believes the BBQ is best when the ingredients are added in stages--this makes for complex flavors and an unbeatable texture. The ribs first get a mustard moisturizer, then a seasoning blend, next a wrapping mixture, and finally, the finishing dressing.
So you don't cook from his book when you're in a hurry. My plan is to have a few BBQ parties this summer and cook from the book.
If you enjoy BBQ, buy this book! You will be amazed at the difference the proper cooking method and homemade sauces make to your food.
By the author of the award winning book, HARMONIOUS ENVIRONMENT: BEAUTIFY, DETOXIFY & ENERGIZE YOUR LIFE, YOUR HOME & YOUR PLANET.
on July 6, 2009
The three most important things to know about this book are the following: (1) the recipes are more complex than the usual barbecue/grilling book, each one is an investment of time.
(2) the book includes a mixture of grilling recipes and slow smoked barbecue recipes and either type of recipe is well worth the book.
(3) the results are fantastic!
I would prefer to have cooked from the book a little more before posting the review. I have probably made 5-6 recipes from the book, including both barbecue and grilling recipes. But since the recipes have produced uniformly fantastic foods, I am not too worried about extrapolating from my experience to the book in general.
A little more detail on (1).
the recipes are a little more work than the usual. What does this mean? It means that most recipes have three steps. The meat is prepared using an injection, marinade, or brine. Then a custom dry rub is applied after brining, then during cooking you will apply a sauce or glaze. Often there is another step during cooking such as wrapping in foil, basting, etc. Making all these various flavor layers/toppings, etc is time consuming and requires a lot of ingredients. However, most of the ingredients are easy to find and easy to assemble, it just takes time so plan ahead. These are not recipes you decide to do 30 minutes before you eat.
(2)A mixture of barbecue and grilling recipes.
The book includes a great selection. Most all of the classic slow cooked barbecue meats are covered in this book, pork shoulder, pork butt, brisket, chicken, etc. etc. But for each one, there is a unique touch, slight changes to the classic smoking process that increase complexity and flavor. For example, most of the smoking recipes involve wrapping the meat in foil for part of the cooking period. Purist may object but it works and combined with the flavorful additions to the meat that are usually added when wrapping the process actually adds flavor not just steam heat to the meat.
On the grilling front, there are recipes for every type of meat as well. Here one note is that all the recipes are not written for the same type of grill. For example, there are recipes that have you preheat the grill on high then lower it down to medium high once food is added. With a charcoal grill or Big Green Egg this is not an instant process and not necessarily easy to do after adding food (depending on your equipment). I don't think there is any single piece of equipment that would cook every recipe without some adaptation, so be prepared to think about these issues when you read the recipe.
But on the grilling side, as with the slow cooked side, the recipes are amazing and the results well worth the investment of time.
(3) the results are fantastic.
This book has a lot of recipes. A lot! And I cannot wait to try all of them. I have tried a bunch of the pork recipes and a beef recipe as well as a side dish. All were great.
For example, each of the grilled pork recipes I have made so far involved a glaze applied at the end and then again to the meat as it was sliced. Wow! I have never tasted anything like these glazes in my life. Each mixes intense sweet and savory ingredients with a powerful herb (imagine a glaze of peach preserves, garlic, and rosemary). These are amazingly good. What is more is that they don't stand alone. You put these glazes on top of meat that has been brined and then covered with a dry rub that has complimentary and contrasting flavors that all layer together into an explosion of flavor. Combine all of that with a charcoal fire accented with smoke wood and you start to get an idea.
So in summary: (1) prepare to invest time preparing the sauces, rubs, brines, glazes, etc. (2) prepare to invest a little more care in the cooking process than slapping meat on a hot grill and setting the timer. (3) prepare to eat the best barbecue you have ever tasted.
on January 16, 2012
Serious BarbecueSerious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste, and Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking is a terrific book, I am glad that I own it, I have used it, and will use it again. I find the recipes easy to follow, if a bit complex at times, but the results are well worth the "pain". Mr. Lang does an excellent job of explaining what you need to do and why you do it... without that knowledge, you cannot expect to ever jump out and try your own ideas for creating new (dare I say) delicacies from your fire! I actually think that this book is almost as good as Francis Mallmann's "Seven Fires"Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, which is my "cooking with fire bible".
I do take issue, however, with Mr. Lang's assertion that grilling is BBQing. I've been BBQing (cooking in low smoky heat for long periods) for over 50 years, judging BBQ contests for quite a while, and have been grilling even longer. How he decided to unilaterally decide to redefine a centuries old art sort of escapes me. On virtually every weekend, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of devotees to the art out there cooking over low heat and using their favorite blends of smoking woods, many of them in BBQ competitions, and every one of them will tell you that grilled meats are NOT BBQ. ::shrug:: My opinion, anyway! Thousands of BBQists just thanked me. ::laughing::
This small bugaboo (in my opinion) should not, however, take away from the craftsmanship of his work, it is first rate. Some of his recipes are variations on recipes that I have used over the years and I must say that Mr. Lang's variations do not disappoint. I would add that if you are only going to have one book devoted to cooking mostly over a hot fire and you don't want to work as hard as Francis Mallmann will require (I actually had to rebuild my firepit so that I could duplicate Mallmann's antics... well worth the efforts, though), this is the book for you. Ideally, you will have both. I suggest a trip to your local library or bookstore (if you're lucky enough to have one that carries both books) to examine both and make your determination based on your needs and desires, stacked up against your reviews.
If you're retired, like me, or otherwise have a sufficiency of time and inclination AND space, creating an open fire cooking area next to your BBQ pit, smoker, whatever you BBQ with, is fun and a great time-consuming project. I actually found that because I carefully planned my firepit, I no longer need my BBQ pit, since the firepit can produce the same slow cooking with smoke product and a lot more of it!
Serious Barbecue is definitely a must have for outdoor cooks who want to turn out a quality product for their family and friends, while enjoying the process.
on September 10, 2011
This book is by far the best barbecue cookbook on the market UNLESS you want lots of quick and easy recipes. Adam Perry Lang unapologetically focuses on only one factor: taste -- although the presentations he suggests are pretty incredible too. Don't bother monkeying around with this book if cooking makes you impatient; APL's recipes are meticulous, time-consuming and demanding. They're also the best tasting stuff you've ever imagined.
Here are some recipes I've tried. Most are spectacular, but everybody has different taste, and some I didn't like so much.
1) So far I've cooked the whole turkey (for Thanksgiving and Christmas). It took all afternoon, but both times it was fantastic. I'd always thought that people ate turkey at these holidays for tradition's sake, because the turkey I grew up with sure tasted worse than... any other meat. This turkey was amazing, though. Better than deep-fried, which is hard to believe. I prefer it over the steaks I had for my birthday.
2) Competition Thighs Recipe: this was pretty fantastic too. Possibly the best chicken I've had, although just in this book there's some stiff competition. My kiddos liked it though, and those little Philistines turn up their noses at everything, so it just might get the nod.
3) Pulled Chile Chicken Legs: The glaze for this is outstanding. I'm going to try it on some other dishes. The meat was pretty spicy, so this was not one of daddy's more popular recipes, though. I'm not complaining -- I polished off everyone else's portions.
4) Orange Beer Can Chicken: The orange marmelade glaze is the star of this show. Don't be shy about soaking the meat in it!
5) Baby Back Ribs: These weren't too bad at all, but not the best ribs I've made. A quick caveat, though. Due to a killer deal at the local slaughterhouse (pun!) I've been able to smoke literally hundreds of racks of ribs over the past two years, and I have a recipe and technique that works pretty darn well for me. APLs recipe is better than most, that's all.
6) Bacon-wrapped drumsticks: Really yummy, but more work than any of the other recipes, and that's saying a lot. For a few drumsticks... meh... I'd rather use the meat with the Pulled Chile Chicken Legs I mentioned above.
7) Grilled Zucchini: Possibly the most surprising recipe in the book. It was fantastic. My kids -- Kindergarteners and toddlers(!) were stuffing zucchini into their faces with the heels of their hands while they stood on their chairs and snatched more from the serving dish. You'll never want to eat zucchini any other way.
8) Corn Griddle Cakes: They were fine, but I'm a cornbread traditionalist, and so it wasn't worth the extra work.
9) APL Barbecue Sauce: This recipe cost a fortune (relatively) and was a royal pain the butt to make. It wasn't all that great. About on par with store-bought stuff. There were a few things I'm not sure I did exactly right, but the monetary, effort and time costs were so high, for such a disappointing result, that I don't want to try it again.
10) Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Breast: This was terrific too. If you can't find skin-on turkey breast, the bacon adds a whole lot to the meat.
11) Crisp And Unctuous Pork Belly: Too fatty for my taste. Idiotically, I bought, prepared and cooked some pork belly and didn't see that coming. Pork belly!
12) Skirt Steak with garlic & cilantro: Wonderful. Did this up when making some fajitas, and it was a smashing success.
13) Chicken Wings With Coarsely Ground Spices: These were a 10+. I cooked them for a large group, and they came out beautifully. They were especially good with the Blue Cheese Dressing...
14) Blue Cheese Dressing: I didn't have blue cheese, so I substituted lots of Gorgonzola. It's hard to exaggerate how surprisingly good these were, and the dressing is good enough to eat with a spoon.
So I still have a long way to go. Especially in the beef and lamb departments. I'm looking forward to trying some of those recipes, but good beef is hard to find here in Germany, and lamb is pretty pricey.
on July 20, 2009
I liked this book so much, it has driven me to write my first ever product review on Amazon. Serious Barbecue is just that - serious. These recipes are not simple, they're serious. This is not a book for someone who wants to learn how to simply sear a steak and serve it quick. This is about creating flavor explosions that you didn't think were possible.
Yesterday I cooked 12 pounds of his honey bbq baby back ribs. The process started at noon for a 6pm dinner. Layer by layer, you added the flavors. The steps in the recipe were not difficult, they were just time consuming. When I served them, I got comments like "These are the best ribs I've ever had" and "Ooooh, aaaah" expressions of pleasure. Not all his recipes require this sort of time investment, but I had the time this weekend, and it was well worth the effort.
I can't wait to try some of his other recipes.
on July 21, 2013
Several reviewers mentioned that this book was one on the short list of "must-reads" if you want to improve your BBQ skills. I couldn't agree more. I paid triple the original $35 cover price to obtain it in used condition since it's out of print; it is worth every penny.
APL (as Mr. Lang likes to call himself) spent considerable time describing how he uses his master chef skills to improve long-standing BBQ techniques. It all makes sense and really works! His reference material and recipes give plenty of new ideas to try that will carry over into your every day cooking, both on the grill and smoker. For example, my first attempt at one of his recipes was what most of us know as 3-2-1 Spare Ribs (book pg 66). His rib recipe includes a homemade rub and BBQ sauce. I've made 3-2-1's dozens of times but his assembly of layered flavors was clearly better than any of mine...very impressive. His 10 "basic recipes" in the index are great starting points for creating your own unique flavors in sauces and dressings.
APL's latest book (Charred & Scruffed) seems similarly impressive but Serious BBQ is The Bible to the current-day backyard chef!
on August 3, 2009
Of all the BBQ books I own, and that's quiet a few, this book is the most inspiring of them all. I admit that so far I have not used one of the recipes. The sheer complexity of the procedures to cook these 'Mind Blowing' meals relegates them to the weekend time.
It is a wonderful read and even if one can't find the time for this style of cooking, there are enough tips and informations which would benefit any BBQ person who wants to improve his craft.
As an owner of two Big Green Eggs it was nice to see that they were considered in the recipes.
As I leaved through the book it dawned on me that 'Serious Barbeque' is very similar to the photographic equivalent of the Zone System devised by that great American photographer Ansel Adams. Both are very complex for Mr.Average unless he wants to become an absolute master.
The book is very well done and as I said inspiring.
The pictures of cooking on the beach baffled me a bit. Is there no wind? Blowing fine sand around during the long hours of cooking on a spit. Or is grit a new additive to BBQ nobody has discovered so far? Certainly not to be emulated in my opinion.
By the way don't worry about spending your hard earned money on French 'Fleur de sel' salt. Salt is salt and it all comes from the sea. Use pure medium/fine sea salt.
I have now cooked the spareribs, chicken breasts, burgers and some sides.(A very much neglected part in most Q books.) I followed the recipes exactly as described save for the OLD Bay which is not available in Australia. Used the internet to make the substitute.
The book delivers the goods, no question about it. One has to love BBQ eating and the thrill of doing the long cooking. It is a refined art of cooking and it is important to share the wonderful taste with people who appreciate great BBQ.
I pulled the book apart and put the pages into a folder because I got sick of fighting the binding. The book just would not open up without putting clips on each side. Having the pages loose has the added advantage of scanning the recipe of the day. One can make notes which can then be transferred onto the pages for reference. How to set up my two BGE's for example.
All this is a measure of how highly I value the book.
PS. I gave the book four stars but it is a five star for sure!
on September 25, 2009
Adam Perry Lang's 'Serious Barbecue' is damn near a revelation. This book has, for me, turned cooking from somewhat of a chore into recreation. I can't wait to tackle the next recipe on my list. Everything I've made so far has turned out great and Adam Perry Lang's very simple idea of adding flavor after cooking (i.e. cutting board sauce) has influenced my cooking beyond the food I have made from this book. Naturally, there are a few recipes in here that I'll never cook (whole pig) but it's still fun to read APL's process and ingredients. Eighty percent of the recipes are accessible and I look forward to trying nearly all of them. As cookbook authors go the universal thinking is that Julia is... well... unparalleled (as a recent movie reminds us). Jacque Pepin is the best teacher of technique. Rick Bayless for Mexican food. Etc. Consider finding an appropriate slot for outdoor BBQ chef Adam Perry Lang. His cooking and his recipes are at once simple, elegant, down-home, challenging, fun, fascinating and, of course, delicious. Serious Barbecue is a blast. I need to buy a miner's light to extend BBQ season into the upcoming shorter days of fall and winter.