Article first published as Book Review: Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue by Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe on Blogcritics.
I’m from Texas so it’s a given I’d be interested in learning more about barbequing, even though I’m not a beginner as the title of the cookbook indicates. The introduction of “Slow Fire” by Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe starts off with “There is something magical about barbeque that makes it different from any other cuisine. No matter where my travels take me there is always a local barbecue joint that is known far and wide as the best there is and the people who there are revered.” I sure can agree because I’ve noticed the same thing.
Dr. BBQ, in Slow Fire,” gives encouraging information before starting to cook. His “Tools and Techniques” section includes: types of cookers (smokers, pits, and grills,) Charcoal and Wood, and, Barbeque Tools. Recipes include: Spices and Sauces, Ribs, Port, Beef, Birds, Anything But, and the Necessary Side dishes.
For the purpose of the review we are asked to test three recipes. I first wanted to create a sauce, and as I perused all the recipes in that section I choose “Orange-Chipotle Barbeque Sauce.” The recipe asked for orange juice, tomato sauce, honey, chipotle puree, salt/pepper, cumin and onion and garlic powders. This was all simmered and then cooled. The sauce was on the sweet side and you could slightly taste the citrus essence. The aroma was pleasant as well.
The second recipe I tested was “Cozy Corner-Style Cornish Hens.” The hens were placed in a brine consisting of lemons, soy sauce, honey, thyme, pepper and ice water for 3 hours. Once removed from the brine and dried, I sprinkled the hens with a rub of brown sugar, herbs and spices. The recipe suggested cherry wood for smoke flavor but I used mesquite instead. It took the hens 2-and-a-half hours to have an internal temperature of 180 F. (The recipe suggested 2 hours.) I served the “Orange -Chipotle Barbeque Sauce” with the hens. Served with “Carolina-Style Slaw” and crusty rolls, the hens were a hit with our dinner guests. This is one recipe I’ll be making again.
My third recipe to test was the “Carolina-Style Slaw” I served with the hens. The dressing consisted of olive oil, cider vinegar, sugar, and salt/pepper. This was tossed with a package of pre-shredded coleslaw mix. The dressing was tangy, yet sweet - a perfect addition to the meal. I like the dressing; it certainly was a wonderful change from the usual mayo-based coleslaw.
I highly recommend “Slow Fire” by Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe to beginners because you will certainly get hooked on barbequing. But, I also recommend this cookbook for veterans because there are some great recipes to add to your favorites. Just because you are known for a specific recipe, I encourage you to step out of the box and make some of the dishes provided by Dr. BBQ - I promise, you will not be sorry.
Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue
Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe
Chronicle Books (2012)
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (4/12)