Salt Lick Cookbook by Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy

  “The road to great barbecue is a journey.  It is a quest that leads away from the bright lights and congested streets of the city, down winding roads, to places where lie slows down, where the world feels peaceful and the destination is simply barbecue” — Jessica Dupuy
I don’t know if any one state has many “famous” barbecue restaurants as Texas does.  I’m sure I’ll get lots of comments from fans of KC, Memphis or Carolina BBQ but I don’t think I’m that far off.  Salt Lick Barbecue in Driftwood, Texas is currently riding high on the bucket list of many barbecue enthusiast.  The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love is not so much a cookbook as it a history.  A history of a town. A history of the Roberts family and especially a history of their love for everything around them.

My first thought upon opening this book was that it couldn’t possibly be a cookbook. It is more of a “coffee” table book than a collection of recipes.  The photography by Kenny Braun is wonderful.  It reminds me of another of my favorite Texas barbecue books, Texas BBQ : Photographs by Wyatt McSpadden.

I’m not really sure how to describe this book.  It certainly is a cookbook, but it’s so much more.  For me BBQ is so much more than just food.  It is a lifestyle.  It’s an attitude.  It’s really more about friends and family enjoying each others company around a good meal.  Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy the essence of the BBQ culture better than anyone else.  After reading this book I feel like I’m now part of the Robert’s family.  I might just have to drop by for Sunday dinner sometime.

Whether it’s a chapter on Driftwood, Texas or reminiscing about his grandmother or mother Scott Roberts the writings let us know that barbecue is the result to a life time of being taught what’s really important in life.  There’s doubt from reading this book that the success of Salt Lick has as much to do with respect of land, family and love than it does the real food served.

But this is a BBQ cookbook so no matter how much I enjoyed the stories of family it’s the recipes that made me interested in the book when I was first contact about reviewing.  Since we can’t recreate the history or atmosphere of our favorite BBQ restaurants the best we can do is try to create the flavor we’d like to someday taste ourselves or recreate the those flavors that made us a fan to begin with.

The cookbook has recipes for many of the favorite dishes served at the famous Salt Lick restaurant.  If you’re expecting recipes of their famous BBQ sauces you’re out of luck though, they seem to have “forgotten” to include them. You can even recreate “Scott’s Spam Sandwiches.”  This concoction of spam, toast, mayo, mustard, peanut butter and jelly along with a few other ingredients will either make you yearn to make it or turn your stomach inside out.  I wish I’d received permission to publish this recipe instead of the wonderful beef rib recipe you’ll find at the end of this review.

One of the most valuable features in the cookbook are the step by step pictorial for some of the recipes.  The Brisket 101 chapter, quite frankly, is worth the price of the book itself.  If turning out top notched smoked brisket is as big a challenge for you as it is for me, this tutorial will help you.

If you are a fan of barbecue, especially Texas Barbecue you should add this cookbook to your library.  You’ll find yourself picking it up time and time again, learning something new each and every time you do.  I can’t think of a better cookbook than this one.  There are plenty of great BBQ cookbooks on the market today and this one is one of the best.

Salt Lick Beef Ribs
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: American
Recipe reprinted, with permission, from The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love by Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy. Published by University of Texas Press, 2012. Photography by Kenny Braun.
  • 1 rack beef back ribs
  • 1 bottle favorite dry rub
  • 1 bottle favorite barbecue basting sauce (one without tomatoes in it)
  1. Heat smoker to 225 degrees. Remove skin from back of bone side of ribs and dis- card. Rub each rack of ribs with dry rub for a moderately heavy coating. Place ribs meat-side down on rack of closed smoker midway from the main heat source. Cook ½ hour. Lightly baste each rack with Salt Lick BBQ Sauce, then turn over and baste meat side. Let temperature of smoker cool to 180 degrees. Baste every 1½ hours for a total cook time of 6½ hours. Check internal temperature of ribs in center of rack, making sure thermometer is not touching bone. If temperature is 160 degrees, ribs are ready for removal. If not, monitor temperature every 15 minutes, until ribs have reached 160 degrees. Remove to wire cooling rack on flat sheet pan. Baste ribs once more, and separate individual ribs with sharp knife. Serve immediately.

Scott Roberts has spent his life fostering a family heritage that began in Driftwood, Texas, more than 100 years ago and building on a dream he and his parents began in 1967 with the Salt Lick barbecue restaurant. Many people say that when it comes to a great barbecue restaurant, the barbecue itself is what’s most important, but to Roberts it’s the smiles on his customers’ faces that mean the most. “Remember,” he says, “I am not a chef. Just a cook.”

Jessica Depuy is a freelance writer who has written for Texas Monthly, National Geographic Traveler, Imbibe, Texas Highways, and numerous Austin and regional publications. She has also written Uchi: The Cookbook, in conjunction with James Beard Award-winning executive chef Tyson Cole. Dupuy lives in Austin.

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