Barbecue Bros Book Club: “Franklin Steak” by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay

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.

Monk: As I mentioned in my prior book club entry, it took me years to finally read “Franklin Barbecue: A Meat Smoking Manifesto” as I (wrongly) assumed it was just yet another barbecue recipe book. As is the case with “Franklin Steak,” these books are more textbook than cookbook.

In “Franklin Steak,” Aaron Franklin and his co-writer Jordan Mackay, a California-based food and wine writer, take much the same approach as they did on “Franklin Smoke.” They take their time getting to the actual cooking of the meat; in the three parts of the book (each with three chapters), they don’t get to the cooking until midway through Part III.

The book starts with “Know Thy Beef” and educates the reader on the history of beef and how the evolution of cattle and beef has coincided with the evolution of man (seriously), before getting into the different breeds of cows on the market today and the different cuts that make them up.

Part II handles the aspects of steak leading up to the actual firing of the grill. It dedicates an entire chapter to dry aging and the science behind it. For the curious home chef, it even shows step by step how you can dry age at home by utilizing an old fridge (which may be the only way to get it outside of a restaurant).

There’s also a chapter on the different styles of grills, from the basic Weber Kettle to a Kamado-style cooker (such as a Green Egg) to the PK Grill to a Santa Maria style grill. After reading about the PK Grill (Aaron’s preferred grill), my interest is definitely piqued into potentially getting one of those, which can be used for steaks or for smoking and I think would be a perfect complement to my old Weber and my Oklahoma Joe offset.

Finally, Part II ends with an exploration of different types of fuel; that is – the various types of charcoal found around the world as well as all the varieties of woods suitable for grilling.

Finally, its grilling time, and Part III (“Steak Perfection”) gets down to business. After a short chapter on lighting the grill and some different set ups (in particular, the charcoal and accent long two-zone method known as the “Franklin Formation”), it’s time to grill the steaks. Using a science and evidence-based approach, the book walks through how to do each method (hot and fast, reverse sear, on the coals, and blast furnace over the top of a charcoal chimney) and pros and cons of each. Finally, the book ends with the self-explanatory “Sides, Sauces, and Drinks” to pair with steak.

Sprinkled throughout the book are short profiles on the best steakhouses in the world, from New York to Spain to Japan. Interesting but not essential for 99% of the us who will likely never make it to any of these hallowed institutions of beef.

Franklin and Mackay’s writing is smart and sharp but also accessible. You can tell they both know their stuff when it comes to the science of beef and steak. As was the case with “Franklin Barbecue,” throughout the book are wonderful photos by Wyatt McSpadden, the fantastic Texas photographer who has two barbecue books of his own (one of which we previously featured).

Rest assured, I will be purchasing the “Franklin Barbecue Collection” gift box set so I can have both of these books on my shelf. They are filled to the brim with so much information, that it will be nice to be able to return to them time and time again.

Available at Amazon or wherever you buy books

Friday Find: Barbecue Photographer Wyatt McSpadden on the Tales from the Pit Podcast

Wyatt McSpadden, whose excellent book “Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown” (our review here) came out last fall, recently joined the Tales from the Pits podcast to discuss how he came into his job of photographing so many barbecue joints for Texas Monthly and why he came out with another Texas BBQ photograph book less than 10 years after his first one was published in 2009.

Wyatt McSpadden’s love of Texas barbecue stretches back even further in time than his celebrated photography career which spans five decades. Growing up in a meat market family in Amarillo some of Wyatt’s earliest memories involve barbecue. As a young man his hobby of photography began growing into a passion that evolved into a profession.

In our interview with Wyatt we cover his early days photographing the construction of the famous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, the beginnings of his BBQ photography, up to present day with the release of his latest book, Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown, and all points in between. Wyatt has witnessed historic moments in Texas barbecue firsthand including the splitting of the Kreuz/Smitty’s businesses in Lockhart, and his career has seen the advancements in both the meat quality of the barbecue produced and the many advancements in technology that have changed the photography world. Like the transition of film to digital, the Texas Barbecue scene has evolved.

Both of Wyatt’s books are must-own items for barbecue lovers and are available at all major retailers. Wyatt’s portraits of both the food and the people that cook it are beautifully laid out in these books designed by Nancy McMillan

Barbecue Bros Book Club: “Texas BBQ: From Small Town to Downtown” by Wyatt McSpadden

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.

Texas photographer Wyatt McSpadden released a barbecue photo book just 9 years before this book, in 2009. So why a new book now? Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, a lot has happened in the world of barbecue in the past 10 years, particularly in Texas. In 2013, Texas Monthly hired a full-time barbecue editor in Daniel Vaughn (who lends McSpadden an essay for this book). Also, a little joint opened up in Austin just months after that first book’s release, and it changed everything. You may have heard of it – Franklin Barbecue. So yeah, there is quite a bit more ground to cover.

Now I haven’t yet read the first book (though its now at the top of my shortlist of barbecue books), but I get the impression that its very similar in nature. In “Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown,” Wyatt’s fantastic photography is front and center, of course and beautifully laid out by his wife Nancy McMillan.

Wyatt does write about a handful of joints that mean a great deal to him, from joints that remind him of the joints he went to growing up in Amarillo (like Prause Meat Market in xxx) to legendary places where he tasted his first transcendent bites of barbecue (Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor).

Wyatt’s passion is evident in those words as well as his gorgeous photography. He was there to document the rise of Aaron Franklin and Franklin Barbecue (Franklin provides the foreword, pictured above) and more than most, has criss-crossed the state for nearly 30 years, documenting every weathered nook and smoke-encrusted cranny.
“Texas BBQ: From Small Town to Downtown” is an essential barbecue book to add to your collection. I will say, North Carolina barbecue needs it’s own iteration of this book, and what a dream job that would be.

Available wherever you buy books. Official description:

In Texas BBQ, Wyatt McSpadden immortalized the barbecue joints of rural Texas in richly authentic photographs that made the people and places in his images appear as timeless as barbecue itself. The book found a wide, appreciative audience as barbecue surged to national popularity with the success of young urban pitmasters such as Austin’s Aaron Franklin, whose Franklin Barbecue has become the most-talked-about BBQ joint on the planet. Succulent, wood-smoked “old school” barbecue is now as easy to find in Dallas as in DeSoto, in Houston as in Hallettsville. In Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown, Wyatt McSpadden pays homage to this new urban barbecue scene, as well as to top-rated country joints, such as Snow’s in Lexington, that were under the radar or off the map when Texas BBQwas published.

Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown presents crave-inducing images of both the new—and the old—barbecue universe in almost every corner of the state, featuring some two dozen joints not included in the first book. In addition to Franklin and Snow’s, which have both occupied the top spot in Texas Monthly’s barbecue ratings, McSpadden portrays urban joints such as Dallas’s Pecan Lodge and Cattleack Barbecue and small-town favorites such as Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que in Marlin. Accompanying his images are barbecue reflections by James Beard Award–winning pitmaster Aaron Franklin and Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn. Their words and McSpadden’s photographs underscore how much has changed—and how much remains the same—since Texas BBQrevealed just how much good, old-fashioned ’cue there is in Texas.

Linkdown: 6/20/18

– The pilot for Daniel Vaughn’s barbecue tv show “Smokelandia” will air on Cooking Channel on Wednesday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m. Central Standard Time; Sam Jones BBQ is one of the three joints featured in the pilot which hopes to be picked up for a full season

– The story behind the longtime Stamey’s Barbecue which has been in Tyro for 45 years; owner Dan Stamey is the son of the original owner of Smiley’s and may be a distant relative of Warner Stamey of the Stamey’s in Greensboro

The idea for the restaurant came when Dan Stamey picked up a newspaper and saw a building available for rent at $250 per month. At the time, he was working part time at another barbecue restaurant and working other odd jobs. His father, Herman “Smiley” Stamey, was the original owner of Smiley’s Barbecue on N.C. Highway 8.

– Almond Farm in Millingsport will host its first Blackberry Festival and will also sell barbecue as a benefit for 4-year old Tate Whitley, who has leukemia

– You never hear much about Sam’s but it needs Austin’s help

– Anthony Bourdain never visited the Piedmont Triad, but Triad City Beat imagines a “Bourdain Trail” in Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem that includes Mr. Barbecue

– Photographer Wyatt McSpadden has taken some great shots of Franklin Barbecue through the years, from its early years in 2009 through the 2015 cookbook and the 2017 fire and the resultant reopening

– Buxton Hall’s Elliott Moss on 3 barbecue rules that were meant to be broken

– (Carolina BBQ-flavored) Utz is better than nuts: