I bought this book right after it was re-introduced in the new edition but I didn't really get a chance to dig into it deeper than simple skimming until today. I thought I would open a thread for discussion of this particular book so we can have some in-depth conversations about the book and the ideas presented within its pages.
This book is different from most of the BBQ and grilling related cookbooks I have on my shelf. That's saying something when I look over the books I actually have here. When it comes to defining what makes it different, we have to take a look at Adam Perry Lang himself to help create this differentiation. I have books by Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe, Chris Lilly, Myron Mixon, Jamie Purviance, Steven Raichlen, and a host of other big guns in the world of barbecue and grilling. Each has its great stuff, but "Serious BBQ" is still different. I think the major difference that separates this book from the others is the author's approach to the food. Lang didn't grow up in a BBQ family. His interest in this topic came later in his life. When I read about Adam Perry Lang's background in cooking, I'd expect to see his book endeavors alongside the other fine food authors in the world of the culinary arts. Lang was educated at the Culinary Institute of America and began his career in the world of five-star dining. This is what makes his interest in barbecue and his approach to the food significantly different than those I'm used to seeing.
In the opening sections of "Serious BBQ" Lang talks about the equipment, tools, ingredients, fuel, and a host of other materials needed to produce great barbecue. He also spends a little time talking about semantics, which I found refreshing. Yankee vs Southern BBQ! As a pure born and bred southern boy, I'm proud of my heritage but I'm also not in the least interested in arguing about the term "Barbecue" and what it means. It's all about the food that goes on the plate, and Lang's agreement with this is quite on spot. There is also an interesting section on dispelling myths about BBQ and grilling that is right on target. In my humble opinion, the most important part of the opening section of this book is the discussion of the meat itself. He does a great job of describing what defines specific cuts of meat. Understanding THAT is what helps you determine how it should be cooked. FAT and COLLAGEN. Understanding those two elements in a piece of meat will lead you to cooking success! Why do you cook a pork shoulder for a long time at a lower temperature? Why don't you cook a rib-eye the same way?
The most interesting distinction that surfaces in this book is Adam Perry Lang's unique and outside-the-box approach to bringing flavor to the meat. All of the other BBQ and grilling books I have approach the preparation and seasoning of the meat in basically the same ways with the same classes of seasonings, rubs, and injections. Lang's fresh ideas on seasoning, marinating, brining and injecting have my complete attention right now and I plan to study his ideas in depth over the next several months with some experimental cooking of my own. A lot of his techniques of cooking the meats described in this book are quite opposite of some ideas we would normally consider to be perfect practices. Just the descriptions of these techniques and ingredients had my mouth watering.
As part of my personal cookbook collection, I have both of the Myron Mixon cookbooks: "Smokin' with Myron Mixon" and "Everyday Barbecue." Smokin' was Mixon's first publication and then it was followed by Everyday Barbecue. After reading through both of these books and trying several recipes and techniques from both, I believe the "Everyday Barbecue" should have been his first release. As far as I'm concerned, the Smokin' book could have been ditched.
Smokin' is a book that possibly caters to the world of competition barbecue more than to the backyard barbecue guys like us. Several of the recipes I tried from this book were just not good in my humble opinion. I understand in the world of competition BBQ you have to wow the judges with a single bite, but if I had to eat some of this stuff as a meal, I'd probably dislike it even more. There are some interesting stories bundled with a lot of smack talk that makes the book entertaining, but I'm not going to recommend this book as a 'must have' for my fellow backyard chefs.
Everyday Barbecue is a book that I find to be much better suited to my tastes and preferences as a backyard cook. I have tried several recipes and techniques from this book and been very pleased with the results. Myron describes this book as a guide to what he cooks when he's cooking for family and friends at home, which is exactly what most of us are doing most of the time.
So, if you are looking for a book to add to your stack, I'd give the "Everyday Barbecue" book a glance...