Title: The Smoked-Food Cookbook
Author: Lue & Ed Park
Published: 1992 by Stackpole Books
Lately I've been quite infatuated with barbecue. I place the blame squarely on Alton Brown, who has a really great recipe for ribs. He also came up with a wacky idea to build a terra-cotta smoker, which I've decided to implement. That's another blog post (complete with pictures, of course), but in preparation I decided to visit the library.
This is the book that I chose to help me in my BBQ quest. While I've benefited from the book, it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I supposed I should have guessed from the title, but primarily this is a cookbook. A recipe book, to be more precise. Well over half the book is devoted to recipes for fish, antelope, lamb, etc. Yummy stuff, I'm sure. What I was really looking for were details of how the smoking process works, and how to create my own recipes.
But the book isn't a complete waste. Far from it, in fact. The first three chapters cover a lot of what I wanted to know, such what smoking equipment is commercially available, how to prepare food for smoking, and safety. From there out it's in-depth coverage of how to prepare certain kinds of food, such as meat, game, fish, and jerky. Each section leads off with some general guidlines for the category and then a dozen or so recipes.
The drawback I found with that approach is that each category is pretty broad. Chicken, pork and beef are all covered in the same chapter, and from what I've seen each of those three meats could be a life-long study. One of my primary areas of interest is how to cook ribs (nigh unto the food of the gods, IMHO). There was just one recipe and I'm not sure I'm thrilled with it.
The final chapter had one really juicy nugget of data, which was a great way to finish. One of the biggest decisions you have to make before smoking a piece of meat is what kind of smoke you will use. There are just so many. Typically you'll hear of mesquite and hickory. In the Tables chapter the authors list 9 common types of wood, their flavor profiles, and what sort of food they work well with. I copied it down as I'm certain that it'll come in handy. For the record, I think I'll start off with alder, mesquite and hickory.