Cookbook Review: Smoke: New Firewood Cooking by Tim Byrnes

Smoke: New Firewood Cooking is a new outdoor cooking cookbook released on April 30th, 2013 by Rizzoli USA. The subtitle of the book is “How to build flavor with fire on the grill and in the kitchen,” and right from the very first couple of pages flavor takes over every aspect of every recipe. Fire and flavor is what is king in this book.

Tim Byres is the chef and owner of the restaurants Smoke and Chicken Scratch in Dallas, Texas. Food & Wine named him “Best New Chef of the Southwest” in 2011 and “The People’s Best New Chef” in 2012. He has been featured in Southern Living, the New York Times, and Garden & Gun. Josh Ozersky, the author of The Hamburger: A History and Meat Me in Manhattan, has written for Time, Newsday, Saveur, and the New York Times.

smoke_coverSmoke: New Firewood Cooking is a new outdoor cooking cookbook released on April 30th, 2013 by Rizzoli USA. The subtitle of the book is “How to build flavor with fire on the grill and in the kitchen,” and right from the very first couple of pages flavor takes over every aspect of every recipe.  Fire and flavor is what is king in this book.


“A larder is a cool area for storing food prior to use. Larders were commonplace in houses before the widespread use of the refrigerator.” -Wikipedia


Sure the book has the necessary introductory information and how-tos about grills, tools and other necessities, but it is the variety of flavor profiles that really stands out in this cookbook. From Part One: Stocking a Larder, with recipes for rubs, spice mixtures, chile purees, marmalades, stocks and a variety of other goodies, through the actual fire cooking techniques and recipes in Part 2 Smoke: New Firewood Cooking sets the a new standard for outdoor cookbooks.

Everyone who reads Embers and Flame knows what a huge fan of Adam Perry Lang’s cookbooks I am.  Chef Byres has come up with a book that rivals Charred and Scruffed for teaching outdoor cooking techniques. There are instructions and diagrams for a variety of prep and cooking techniques that I’ve never seen in a cookbook before. The Table of Contents even includes four feasts with instructions on how to do everything from making the pits/cookers to how to prepare the food. If you’ve ever wanted to roast a whole pig you get instructions on all aspects of the pig roast right down to plans for building an upright pig roaster. I know what my Memorial Day BBQ menu is going to be.

cookbook review Smoke_Embers and Flame 1I’ve never given hominy much thought.  I’m not even sure if I’ve eaten hominy, but after reading how to make hominy I’m inclined now to give it a try.  All I need are a few cups of flint corn, also known as Indian corn and some hardwood ash, which isn’t that hard for me to come up with, and I can make hominy.  Why would I make hominy? Because the Hominy and Turnip Green Salad looks amazing.  I love cookbooks that get me to try no flavors and how-tos.


To make hominy, field corn (maize) grain is dried, then treated by soaking and cooking the mature (hard) grain in a dilute solution of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) or wood ash, a process termed nixtamalization. -About.com


After writing a cookbook review previously I’ve come away, with a multitude of recipes to try out, but I’ve never had a list of cooking devices to build like I have with Smoke: New Firewood Cooking. Mrs Grail is going to go nuts when the upright pig roaster appears in the backyard along with a home build suadero and a new drum grill. The only thing keeping me from building the oyster shucking table is that I’m not a big fan of oysters. I freaking love this cookbook.

I think Joshua Ozersky sums it up best in his forward, “Smoke: New Firewood Cooking isn’t a book to consult for the making of summer dinners, for this reason; it’s closer in spirit to a manifesto.” There are no bad cookbooks. Some are better than others. Each and every cookbook has something to offer of value, something that changes the way you cook. But there are few cookbooks that change the way you look at food, changes the way you explore, Smoke: New Firewood Cooking is one of those cookbooks.

 

1 Comment on Cookbook Review: Smoke: New Firewood Cooking by Tim Byrnes

  1. Tim Byres // May 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm //

    Thanks so much for the great review. Keep on cooking and telling your story.

    Best, Tim

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