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.
The first time I personally became aware of Christopher Prieto was when this book came out by the editor of Southern Living magazine “with Pitmaster Christopher Prieto.” Who was he, and how did he get this spotlight in a barbecue book from a national publication seemingly out of nowhere (at least to me)? Of course, I now know that he is pitmaster and owner of Prime BBQ in Knightdale, but in 2015 Prime BBQ was a cooking school and catering operation and Prieto was known on the competition barbecue circuit as well as from TV appearances on Food Network’s Chopped: Grill Masters, the Cooking Channel’s Man Fire Food, and Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters. His star certainly continues to rise.
In addition to Prieto’s input, there is also tips and short Q&A’s from noted barbecue personality’s such as Carolina Cue to Go’s Elizabeth Karmel, Tim Byres of Smoke (Dallas), Justin and Jonathan Fox of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q (Atlanta), Carey Bringle of Peg Leg Porker (Nashville), Skip Steele of Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis), Harrison Sapp of Southern Soul Barbeque (St. Simon’s Island, GA), among others. So, Prieto was in nice company.
As for the book, Southern Living contributor Robert Moss wrote the foreword and refers to the book as “a comprehensive survey of the technique and styles of contemporary Southern barbecue,” and that hits the nail on the head. Officially titled “Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ: The Complete Year-Round Guide to Grilling and Smoking,” this book heavily focuses on recipes for the backyard and home cook, with a little barbecue 101 sprinkled in here and there.
After spending some time on a brief history of barbecue in North America, there is a section on the different cuts of meat as well as fuels for the fire, the recipes for beef, pork, and poultry come fast and furious. Starting with “Low & Slow” (smoking) before moving onto “Hot & Fast” (grilling) and then “Rainy Day BBQ” (ovens and crockpots) before wrapping up with sides, rubs, and a pretty extensive section on pickling(!!). The book comes in at over 200 recipes across 350 pages and is quite the tome, complete with beautiful food photography from Greg DuPree.
I personally used their recipe for pork spareribs recently and was extremely pleased with how the ribs turned out – perhaps the best ribs I’ve ever done. I didn’t follow the recipe to a tee in terms of rubs or sauces, but the guidelines on prep and timing served me well. Take a look for yourself:
There are a lot of seemingly great recipes in “The Ultimate Book of BBQ” that would be perfect to try out at a time when you are mostly home and have a lot of time on your hands. If that happens to apply to you, consider buying or even renting from your local library.