Aw, Hell, the King
I cook a lot but am not what you’d call a gourmet chef. On the other hand, you shouldn’t have to be a master chef to figure out what’s going on in most cookbooks – unless they have the phrase “Advanced Chefs Only!” all over them.
The book looked really good – wonderful full color photographs, and many of the recipes sounded great (not grandpa’s hot dog salad though).
Over the course of a month I tried out several of Reader’s recipes. I didn’t try out others because I wasn’t sure what he was talking about (how do you grill at a 45-degree angle? What is Nutella anyway?). The ones I did undertake made for a considerable amount of mad scientist fun – it takes 13 ingredients to make Bonedust Seasoning Rub and the recipe makes 2-1/2 cups. All so I could use 1 teaspoon in the real thing I was trying to make which was Brown Sugar and Bourbon Sirloin Steaks (marinate 6-8 hours, then grill. This was the fastest recipe we did and it did turn out to be pretty tasty.)
Anyhow, there wasn’t much spur of the moment to any of the recipes my daughter Abby and I tried – besides the number of ingredients we had to assemble, we were either marinating for 6 to 48 hours or cooking something for an entire day, with hourly applications of apple juice in a spray bottle. Some of it was like running a marathon, proud that you made it to the finish line but not so sure it wouldn’t be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Next we tackled Beer-Lime Marinated Skirt Steak (which we would call fajitas). The recipe calls for marinating the meat 24-48 hours before flinging it on a hot grill for no more than two minutes a side. And yes, Reader likes cooking a lot of things with alcohol. He also advocates drinking alcoholic beverages while standing over your grill or smoker which he believes should never be left unattended. This was probably the best recipe we tried, the meat was tender and flavorful. And we used up 4 tablespoons of Bonedust Seasoning Rub.
The crescendo ending was to have been the Slow-Smoked Pulled Pork. I lived in Mississppi for a while and that’s where I fell in love with pig barbecue. This was the one disappointing recipe we did; the meat came out soft and tender but Reader just throws way too many hot spices into it for my taste and I don’t think we should have mixed the barbecue sauce into the pork at the end as he prescribed. Pulled pork reaches its highest state of existence in pulled pork sandwiches, a true comfort food and this wasn’t it for me. It did drive me to the Internet to check out other versions of pulled pork and I’ll probably be undertaking one of those on some upcoming holiday when I have a lot of time.
And we’re also getting ready to tackle the Beef Tenderloin Injected with Cognac Butter and Gimme S’More Quesadillas.
Abby noted that Reader has 75 different grills and smokers in his backyard. We ended up with two smokers in ours when the first pooped out four hours into the pulled pork and an emergency run had to be made to Home Depot for a new one. -- Margaret Downing
King of the Q’s Blue Plate Barbecue, Home Books, $21.95