Not that we’re anywhere close to being qualified enough to evaluate books but more so as a public service announcement we will periodically discuss barbecue and barbecue-related books.
On May 7th of last year, Smoked was released as well as several other notable barbecue books: Whole Hog BBQ: The Gospel of Carolina Barbecue with Recipes from Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ by Sam Jones, Southern Smoke by Matthew Register’, and Myron Mixon’s BBQ&A with Myron Mixon. Of those authors, I knew the least about Ed Randolph, who is a Hudson Valley, NY-based competition cook and caterer who has announced his intentions to open his restaurant Handsome Devil BBQ in the town of Newburgh this summer.
As for this book Smoked is equal parts travelogue, recipes, and barbecue 101. He has chapters with recipes from the notable pitmasters you might expect – Sam Jones, Elliot Moss, Billy Durney, Carey Bringle, Pat Martin to name a few – but to me the best part of the book are the chapters on the less heralded or more up-and-coming pitmasters. Being a northeastern-based pitmaster, Randolph spotlights several pitmasters from states not normally known as barbecue hot beds. States such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. While it may be due to a function of Ed being able to travel to those restaurants more easily, it is nice to see some variety in pitmasters and restaurants in a barbecue book.
That’s not to say that Randolph only focused on the part of the country where he’s from, as he traveled from California to Texas and throughout the southeast to meet with pitmasters and get recipes, as noted by the map at the front of the book.
As for the recipes, there’s good variety in the types of meats that are represented – not just your typical brisket or pork butt – in addition to recipes for sides, sauces, and desserts. The book might be worth its price alone just for the chicken bog recipe from Elliott Moss of Buxton Hall.
Smoked is an easy read from an up and coming name in the barbecue world who followed up this book last year with a Traeger recipe book in April. Also of note is the beautiful photography from Ken Goodman and the foreword by Sean Ludwig of NYC BBQ and The Smoke Sheet.