Smoke, Char, Baste, and Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking
Adam Perry Lang’s book would be a welcome addition to your bookshelf. Whether you’re experienced or a complete novice, this book has a wealth of knowledge that is both interesting and helpful. He started out in the western most reaches of midtown Manhattan with his restaurant Daisy May’s BBQ USA, which was famous for its no thrills approach. He is now partnered with Jamie Oliver at their Barbecoa, the BBQ restaurant by St Pauls in London.
The initial background story only graces a few pages which I quite preferred as whilst it is good to find out a bit more about the author, I personally would use this book for its knowledge and recipes rather than the author’s life story. It is safe to say that Perry Lang has enough bragging rights to substantiate a thoroughly well researched book and his passion for barbecuing is evident.
The best part of this book was definitely the ‘basics’ section, which gets down to the nitty gritty of barbecuing. Not only does it include the minimum number of tools that you will need, but it tells you why you need them, which is really helpful for someone who doesn’t want to fork out a fortune. For people who are just starting up, the basic equipment section is great as it explains that often the less fancy (and ergo less expensive) tools are often better.
The basic section also covers fundamental terms and style of cooking, as well as discussion of the benefits. For example, it describes the central structures of natural fuel and gas cooking, whilst exploring the pros and cons of each. The brief discussion of different types of natural fuels is great as it allows you to make informed choices, as well as increasing your knowledge of what is available.
It also includes all the necessary details that you will need to get set up, from calibrating your grill to maintenance, as well as resolutions to potential problems. These factors are covered in a very conversational style which makes it easier to understand, and the step by step guides to basic counterparts for marinades and brines add a sense of experiment to the book. Rather than telling you what to do at these basic stages, Perry Lang concentrates on ‘experimentation’ and preference as a guide, suggesting that when learning to barbecue the ‘class is never over’.
The detailed ‘basic’ section makes this book a go-to guide for all the necessary basics, regardless of skill level. Due to his focus on barbecuing as an art that is continually learnt, the basic section provides just that: the minimum factors that any potential outdoor cooker will require. As a result, it is a great guide for people of all skill levels.
After the ‘basics’ section, the book moves forward to recipes – which are grouped into different meats and then followed by recipes for sides and sauces. Whilst the recipes are varied and easy to follow, this book was let down by the lack of photography. Serious Barbecue contains photography, but I felt that it would have been improved with images of each recipe. Instead, recipe pictures are sporadic and do not grace the side of each recipe. This may be fine for you, but my personal preference is that I like to see the food I’m trying to recreate. As far as the recipes go though, the sides and sauces look just as exciting to make and appetising as the mains – and the steps are manageable and easy to understand.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in gaining or increasing barbecue skills as this book is much more than a recipe book. Rather than just a collection of recipes, this book is a textbook for outdoor cooking as it is full of valuable information and helpful hints. Even if you only have a slight interest in barbecues, this book will make you want to experiment and learn more. Adam Perry Lang’s book is written in a great conversational style, and his passion for the topic is evident. Consequently, the book is easy to understand, and is a great entertaining read too.
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