Mastering Barbecue by Michael H. Stines

Anything that can be cooked inside the kitchen can be cooked outside with more fun and more flavor. For beginning backyard cooks, mediocre smokers, or grilling pros, MASTERING BARBECUE is the primer for introducing barbecue into one’s culinary repertoire.

Stin_Mastering-BarbecueI recently exchanged a few cooking related emails with Michael Stines which got me to thinking about his cookbook Mastering Barbecue: Tons of Recipes, Hot Tips, Neat Techniques, and Indispensable Know How.  The cookbook has sat on my bookshelf for a couple of years and had been relegated to 2nd tier status.  As newer cookbooks have come out I started referring to them more often.  It’s a shame I’ve done this to Michael’s book because this is one of the better barbecue how to cookbooks I’ve read.  I’d forgotten how good this book is.

Mastering Barbecue when compared to recent outdoor cooking books might seem a little pedestrian.  There are no fancy graphics, no color photographs, actually there are no photographs or color anything in the book.  If you’re looking for a coffee table book this isn’t the cookbook for you.  However, if you are a backyard cook looking for ways to improve your skills, add some new recipes to your menu or just want to know how to cook better than this IS the cookbook for you.

There are plenty of great outdoor cooking books on the market today, but few provide the amount of know-how that Mastering Barbecue does.  There is nothing stuffy or showy about Michael’s book.  This cookbook is a lot like BBQ/Grilling, sometimes simple is best.  You might even say Mastering Barbecue is every man’s cookbook.

Mastering Barbecue begins with “Good Stuff To Know.” I love this section of the book.  Every time I read it I either learn something new or remember something I should have thought of when I cook. Whether it’s a lesson on the types of wood used in smoking BBQ or an explanation of chiles the cookbook  provides a wealth of knowledge.  There is so much information provided by Michael that I can’t even begin to make a dent in the categories, tips and techniques explained in this book.

In addition to all the tips, know-how and techniques there are recipes galore.  Recipes for rubs, sauces and marinades.  Recipes for chicken, beef, pork…even vegetables.  If you can’t find a new recipe in Mastering Barbecue then you aren’t really trying.

A good way to tell this book is a good one is because, even after almost 8 years, it’s still readily available.  If this book isn’t part of your cookbook collection it should be. Buy it!

Michael was kind enough to share the following recipe with my readers.

Kansas City-Style Smoked Brisket
Recipe Type: Entree
Reprinted with permission from Mastering Barbecue by Michael H. Stines, copyright © 2005. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
  • 1 beef brisket (5–8 pounds)
  • ½ cup ground cayenne
  • ½ cup cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup sweet paprika
  • ½ cup granulated garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  1. Combine all the dry ingredients and set aside. Coat the brisket with olive oil and rub spices into the meat. Wrap the brisket with plastic film and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator and let the brisket come to room temperature about an hour before cooking.
  2. Prepare smoker or charcoal grill for indirect-cooking. Add soaked and
  3. drained hickory wood chunks or chips.
  4. Place a drip-pan in the grill; add 1?2 cup water, 1?2 cup cider vinegar, and garlic. When the heat stabilizes at 225° F., place the brisket over the drip-pan and cover the grill. Smoke the brisket for 4 hours, keeping the temperature steady by replenishing the coals and wood chips as needed. Mop the brisket with the drip-pan juices and continue smoking another 2–3 hours. Mop again, and wrap the brisket in aluminum foil. Return the brisket to the smoker and cook an additional 1–2 hours. Remove the brisket from the smoker and let the brisket rest for 15 minutes before slicing.



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