You've got all the kit, but can you come up with the goods? From iconic US smokehouses to London restaurateurs, we've been busy reviewing books dedicated to the sacred art of the barbecue, so you can rub, grill and smoke and pair with sauces, sides and home-brews like a pro. All of the recipes in these books are given in American cups, unless otherwise noted, so you might want to invest in a measure, too.
1. 12 Bones Smokehouse: A Mountain BBQ Cookbook by Bryan and Angela King, Shane Heavner, and Mackensy Lunsford: £15.99, amazon.co.uk
President Obama is a fan of the North Carolina Smokehouse’s brown sugar baby back ribs, and now you can recreate them at home. All the classics – brisket, pulled pork, pastrami, wings – are included, as well as some tantalising surprises, such as barbecue scotch eggs, and the ultimate pork sandwich experience – the ‘Hogzilla’. There isn’t a photo with every recipe, but the spacious layout and easy-to-follow instructions more than make up for it, and there are more barbecue sauce recipes than you could shake your tongs at.
2. Charred & Scruffed: Bold New Techniques for Explosive Flavor On and Off the Grill by Adam Perry Lang: £17.99, waterstones.com
Unusual flavour combinations, from smoked pork shoulder with lime coriander salt to green apple caraway slaw, and a no-nonsense attitude mark this book out. With his self-described “active and aggressive” cooking style, Lang brings a range of new techniques to play with on the fire, such as the ‘clinched-and-planked lobster tails’, which are cooked on a soaked piece of wood, permeating the delicate meat with a smoky steam (if that’s not an oxymoron). This is also one of the only all-American books to focus on grilling over smoking, making it much friendlier for the typical British barbecuer.
3. Feeding the Fire by Joe Carroll: £12.99, wordery.com
Organised into twenty separate ‘lessons’ – ‘Beer is a Craft’, ‘Meat Matters’ and ‘Fire Equals Flavour’, to name a few – New York restaurateur Joe Carroll leads the eager home cook through the best sides, sauces and boozy pairings for his recipes, with regular helpful photographs and tables. All the recipes can be made on leaky gas grill if you don’t have a high-end smoker, to equally delicious results, so it’s ideal for beginners.
4. Let There Be Meat: The Ultimate Barbecue Bible by James Douglas and Scott Munro: £17, amazon.co.uk
This recent release from the founders of hit barbecue restaurant Red’s True Barbecue (which opened in Leeds in 2012) is something quite special: a truly American South-inspired British barbecue book. You get the benefit of Douglas and Munro’s seven years of travelling across the pond, from 10 pages of crusts to how to home-brew your own IPA, minus the American-ese and cup measurements. There are plenty of bright photographs and some nice details, such as a regional guide to American cuts and rubs, accompanied throughout by a comic semi-religious tone (the first chapter is titled “In the beginning…”).
5. Pitt Cue Co. The Cookbook by Tom Adams, Jamie Berger, Simon Anderson and Richard H. Turner: £25, octopusbooks.co.uk
Soaked in Soho-cool, this book from the team behind the acclaimed Pitt Cue Co. diner is packed with Instagram-worthy pictures (and accompanying recipes) of dishes such as smoked quail, pear and mead ketchup, fennel cured pork scratchings, and pulled duck and caviar buns. Pick a recipe from each of the 5 sections (drinks; snacks; meats; slaws & sides; sweet stuff), and you’ll have the ingredients for the perfect rooftop barbecue. Finish it up with a cocktail or two – we recommend ‘The Godfather’ (bourbon, amaretto, orange bitters), followed by ‘The Godfather Part II’ (bourbon, Tuaca, chocolate bitters).
6. Weber’s Big Book of Barbecue by Jamie Purviance: £16.99, octopusbooks.co.uk
Great for barbecuers of every ability, the grill-makers’ latest cookbook has something for everyone, with 200 brand new recipes, including such delights as maple-grilled peaches, spicy halibut with rémoulade coleslaw, and espresso-rubbed rump roast. Perfect for satisfying every palate in the family, each crowd-pleasing recipe sits underneath a mouth-watering photo and recipes are in grams.
7. Franklin Barbecue: a Meat-Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay: £17.99, bookdepository.com
This seriously detailed barbecue Bible is light on recipes, but perfect if you’re after a deep examination of every element of barbecuing. From the best welder to build your own smokehouse to the ideal size pepper grind for your brisket rub, pitmaster Aaron Franklin’s beautifully put-together book is definitely one for the purists.
8. Jamie's Food Tube: The BBQ Book by DJ BBQ: £6.39, foyles.co.uk
The multi-talented DJ BBQ (aka Christian Stevenson) – TV presenter, Kerrang! and XFM host, festival DJ and all-round BBQ king – has teamed up with Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube on this pocket-sized paperback. Alongside fun tips, colourful photos and plenty of meat, the pages are packed with an impressive range of vegetable, fish and side dishes, such as ‘mean monkfish kebabs’ and ‘pico de rado’, which may even outdo the main meat event. Unlike the rest on this list, recipes are in grams rather than American cups.
9. The Barbecue! Bible by Steven Raichlen: £11.39, waterstones.com
It is perhaps a little light on photographs compared to the others we read, but this tome, first published in 2008, remains a classic thanks to an immense range of world-inspired recipes, from grilled snails to Sri Lankan side salad. The writing is fully-loaded stars-and-stripes American-ese throughout, which may not be to everyone’s tastes, but the sheer multitude of recipes will make this possibly the only book you’ll ever need. Recipes are in American cups.
10. Mallmann on Fire: 100 Recipes by Francis Mallmann: £22.39, foyles.co.uk
Gorgeous, gallery-worthy photographs and a focus on the sensory pleasures of cooking make this book as much an expression of an art as a quick-fix barbecue book. Inspired by his Argentinian roots, Mallmann packs 100 Latin-inspired recipes; simple and clever ideas for the more experienced home cook. Effusively written, the description before each recipe reads like poetry, with a personal story behind the creation every dish.
Frankly, we're too hungry to think straight after writing this, but we love the gorgeous design of the Pitt Cue Co. Cookbook, the charming geekery of Franklin Barbecue, and the British-American blend of Let There Be Meat. If you're only going to buy one, make it Weber's' reliable tome, while Feeding the Fire is a comprehensive choice for beginners.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing
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