Review: "Slow Fire, The Beginner's Guide To Barbecue" (and giveway)

Ray Lampe grew up in Chicago and after high school spent 25 years in the family trucking business. In 2000 the trucking business had run its course, and it was time for Ray to try something new. He has been participating in BBQ cook offs as a hobby since 1982, so he decided to take a leap and turn his hobby into a career. In 2000 Ray moved to Florida and began his career as an outdoor cooking expert.Who Is Dr. BBQ

“Great barbecue: It’s as simple as meat, fire and smoke.”

It’s that quote on the back cover of Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe’s new book, Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue, that first caught my eye.  As much as we’d like to have everyone think turning out great barbecue is something difficult and hard to do.  Ray’s newest cookbook brings low and slow barbecue to the everyday backyard cook’

I’m sure there are a variety of “traditionalists” who may take an exception to some of the “shortcuts” mentioned in the recipes.  But for people who are more interested in getting great results than they are in the perceived “right way” this book has some fantastic techniques and recipes that should appeal to both the beginning and advanced pitmaster.

The cookbook starts off with an entertaining Foreward by “Famous Dave” Anderson.  I don’t always read forwards to books because I usually find them boring and somewhat grandiose.  But when the first paragraph starts with “If you are a pork-aholic…” I’ve just had to find out what else Dave had to say.  Dave’s introduction was an insightful look into both Ray and “Famous Dave.”

If you are ever looking for a great description of what barbecue is and what it’s all about you’ll want to take a look at Ray’s “The Art of Barbecue” that begins his cookbook.  It’s a great explanation and he captures the look and feel of the BBQ world perfectly.  “The Art of Barbecue” is followed by a few pages of explanation on cookers, charcoal, wood and tools.  The section of wood is a good read on the most popular woods used for low and slow barbecue with descriptions of the flavor and what proteins they are best with.

The actual cooking part of the book is divided into seven chapters that covers everything from “Spices and Sauces” to “The Necessary Side Dishes.”  With chapters on pork, beef and birds you get plenty of great recipes and techniques that should provide you with plenty of great tasting grub.  There’s a chapter on “Anything But” includes recipes on “Jambalaya-Stuffed Bell Peppers” and the likes of “Barbecued Bologna” to name a few.

For me the highlight of this cookbook is Ray’s take on Ribs. According to Ray, “Ribs Rule The World,” and I’ve got to agree with him.  Ray takes you a culinary rib field trip from Memphis to St. Louis to Korea and back.  Whether it’s baby backs, beef short ribs or plain old spare ribs Ray provides the reader with some fantastic recipes that will impress friends and family.

There are a lot of great barbecue cookbooks on the market today, Ray Lampe’s Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue is one of the best.  If you consider yourself a beginning backyard pitmaster who wants to learn how to turn out fantastic low and slow BBQ on your existing cooking hardware (except gassers) then this book will give the tools you need.  If you’re a more advanced type cook you’ve got some great recipes that can be easily adapted to whatever cooking techniques you like to use.

One of my favorite recipes in Ray’s cookbook is for “Homemade Pastrami.”  I love pastrami and as soon as I go to the store today to pick up some supplies there will be a brisket curing in my refrigerator.  Ray’s recipe for “Homemade Pastrami” is reprinted with permission from “Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue,” published April, 2012 by Chronicle Books.   Photo by Leigh Beisch. Used with permission.

Homemade Pastrami

Everybody loves pastrami and this homemade version may be the best you’ve ever tasted.  The recipe avoids the long brine method and substitutes a more efficient combination of injection and dry-curing.  It may seem like an intimidating project, but it’s really pretty simple as long as you remember to start the process four days before you plan to eat it.  If you can’t find the Morton’s Tender Quick near the salt at  your local grocery store, look for it online.


Brine Injection

  • 2 tablespoons Morton’s Tender Quick
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup ice water

Dry Cure

  • 2 tablespoons Morton’s Tender Quick
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

Cooking Rub

  • 1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander


To make the brine injection: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup of water, the Tender Quick, brown sugar, garlic powder, coriander and pepper.  Bring to a simmer, stirring often to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from the heat and pour into a medium bowl.  Add the ice water and mix well.  Refrigerate until very cold.

To make the dry cure: In a small bowl, combine the Tender Quick, brown sugar, garlic powder, and coriander.  Mix well and set aside.

Lay the brisket fat-side down on a sheet pan with sides.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap.  With a kitchen injector, inject the brine deeply into the brisket in a grid pattern at 1-inch intervals.  Continue until all the brine has been used.  Remove the plastic and dry the brisket and the pan.  Flip the brisket over and season the fat side with half of the dry-cure mixture. Press the mixture into the fat.  Flip the brisket and season the other side with the remaining dry cure and press it into the meat.  Put the brisket in a heavy plastic bag.  Push out as much air as possible and seal the bag.  Refrigerate for 3 1/2 days, flipping and massaging it through the bag twice a day.

Take the brisket out of the bag and rinse it well under cold running water.  Place the brisket in a large pan of cold water to cover for 30 minutes.  Dump the water and replace it with fresh water; soak for another 30 minutes.  This will keep the pastrami from being too salty.

Prepare your cooker to cook indirectly at 235 degrees F using medium oak wood for smoke flavor.

To make the cooking rub: Combine the pepper and coriander in a small bowl and mix well.

Take the brisket out of the water and dry it well. Season the fat side with half of the cooking rub, pressing it into the meat.  Flip the brisket and season the meaty side with the other half of the rub, pushing it into the meat. Put the brisket in the cooker, fat-side up.  Cook for 4 hours and then flip the brisket to fat-side down.  Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees F, another 1 or 2 hours.

Lay out a big double-thick piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Take the brisket out of the cooker, and lay it on the foil fat-side up. Wrap the foil up around the brisket, adding 1/2 cup water to the package. Close up the package tightly, pushing out as much air as possible.  Return to the cooker until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 200 degrees F, another 1 or 2 hours.

Take the package out of the cooker and open it to allow the steam to escape. Let rest for 15 minutes. Take the brisket out of the foil and discard the juices.  Slice thinly across the grain to serve.

Giveaway Details:

Want to win a copy of “Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide To Barbecue?”  Here’s all you need to do to enter.  Leave a comment below on why you think you should win.  I’ll randomly pick one of the comments on May 1st and that person will get a copy of the book. You may leave a comment once a day until the contest ends.  Simple?  You bet…

71 Comments on Review: "Slow Fire, The Beginner's Guide To Barbecue" (and giveway)

  1. I may not be a novice cook but I am sure I would learn something fom Dr. BBQ. I would love to win this book.

  2. amy marantino // April 23, 2012 at 8:08 am //

    i would like to win because i need to improve my skills

  3. I am just starting out and I think this book might be a lot of help to me!

  4. I go way back to helping my dad cook pork shoulders on a concrete block pit covered with sheets of tin & brunswick stew in kettles over oak coals. This old dog is still looking to learn new tricks.

  5. I have been smoking for about 9 months. I am still a beginner. I have heard good things about the Dr BBQ books. Winning one would ne great.

  6. Well, since I was going to PM Mr. Lampe anyway asking his opinion of which of his cook books to order…you’ve answered my question Larry. Thanks! If I don’t win, I’ll be ordering anyway.

  7. Sounds like another winner! I will have to try this pastrami and hopefully more if I win the book.

    Thanks for the cool offer!

  8. Melissa C. // April 23, 2012 at 11:52 am //

    I love BBQ and we have a smoker, but things don’t really turn out perfect… I think this book could help mw with that!

  9. I have all of Dr. BBQ’s books and they’re all great. I look forward to trying this recipe as well. Pastrami rocks!

  10. I loved Ray’s first book with all his stories on the BBQ circuit and also his Ribs & Chops book. Looks like we got another winner here. One question: does this book include all of his new recipes that he’s been winning with recently? If so, that would be worth picking up right there!

  11. because bbq is life

  12. I’d sure like a copy for him to sign at Memphis in May!

  13. As an aspiring Pitmaster myself I would love to have a copy of Ray’s book to add to my growing collection of BBQ books, which now consist of one book. It sound like this book would help to start me off on the right foot.

  14. Better half has been in and out of the hospital for ten and a half years. I have fed every girl working on the third floor. Most of the ER. I would like to feed the extended care and the visiting nurses. Better half is home fading fast.


  15. Wow, sounds like something everyone will want!

  16. David Turner // April 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm //

    I want this book because I want to cook like the best! You. Please send me a copy.

  17. I can’t wait to try this pastrami recipe! would love to win the book :)

  18. I have his big it,e BBQ cookbook. This wou
    D be a great addition. I love his big time BBQ rub

  19. This book sounds perfect for me, I just got my first “real” grill and am looking to start cooking more than just hamburgers. Sign me up!

  20. Dr BBQ’s books rule!

  21. Gret job Larry…you did Ray justice!

  22. Never tried homemade corned beef for pastrami, thanks for the great idea.

  23. I’m a huge fan of Ray, since reading Dr BBQ’s Big Time BBQ, I now have 3 smokers. My wife won’t let me buy anything else BBQ related. Ray owes me :)

  24. Randy Knapp // April 23, 2012 at 9:03 pm //

    Ray has the prescription for some good BBQ!

  25. Roderick Seymour // April 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm //

    Dr.BBQ is one of my heros! I have used his recipes often and would love a copy of his new book to go along with my other three Dr.BBQ books.

  26. I have yet to get a book by Ray Lampe, but it’s very high on the list of things to do. I hear him occasionally on the BBQ Central radio show and he seems like a great guy. Making pastrami is also very high on the list of things to do this spring/summer. Thanks for posting!

  27. Nice! Been thinking about making some pastrami too! Thanks!

  28. Joe Chong // April 24, 2012 at 12:04 am //

    I am extremely interested in expanding the envelope of my personal cooking recipes.

  29. Nice review, hope te win the book.

  30. Christopher Sorel // April 24, 2012 at 4:50 am //

    I have read it 3 times now and love how Ray explains everything. Great review Larry

  31. Gary Clawson // April 24, 2012 at 5:31 am //

    Been Qing about ten years now and still consider myself a beginner. Would love to have the good Docters book on my cookbook shelf. Every student needs a good book!
    Thanks for the review Larry.

  32. I think this is a great review of Ray’s book. I collect cookbooks and I want this one to be added to my collection, so please send me a copy as soon as possible. Thanks

  33. great recipe! good indicator this book is as good as Ray’s previous books!

  34. Dennis Heisey // April 24, 2012 at 5:58 am //

    Dr. BBQ/Ray,
    I have been a huge fan of yours since I started getting serious about BBQ. I am a relative Newbie to REAL BBQ (<a year); as I thought grilling was BBQ. Through your website at BBQ. But I need all the help I can get! That is why I should win your book!

  35. Richard C // April 24, 2012 at 6:00 am //

    I have been doing this for 15 years and am still learning!

  36. Westex BBQ // April 24, 2012 at 7:14 am //

    Took a class from Ray several years back and have seen him on the circuit several times. He is a great ambassador to our craft and hobby and an excellent resource.

  37. I wish I had seen this pastrami recipe, 3 weeks ago…I would have gone a slightly different route.
    Can’t wait to delve into this book & see what other amazing tips & recipes are in store.

  38. You can never have too many books on bbq. So many recipes, so little time…

  39. Would really love to have a copy of Ray’s new BBQ book. Been BBQing for a few years. Been using one of Ray’s cook books as reference.

  40. Phil Cummings // April 24, 2012 at 8:00 am //

    Thanks for the great offer! I am hoping to eventually compete and I Cant get enough good information. Always learning!

  41. I love BBQ cook books

  42. Just took over the cooking from my wife to give her a break and try out my homemade smoker so I need all the help I could get!

  43. This book maybe the missing link I need to add to my collection of cookbooks I need …. Sounds like a great book with information you can really use …

  44. I just started out cooking with smoke, I’ve gotten a few books but I have watched Ray’s videos on You Tube which are great. I’m in Florida now and one day maybe I’ll get to meet the Master and have him sign my copy. Thanks Mark -

  45. I am a newbie to BBQ cooking and look forward to reading Dr. BBQ’s book.

  46. Fred Weidner // April 24, 2012 at 11:38 am //

    I love to cook and my friends and family always expect great things from me. However, I rely on great recipes and this book would help me tremedously in contining to cook and share great food.

  47. John Petro // April 24, 2012 at 11:44 am //

    Looks like a good read. I have his other book, and definitely think this one could help as I learn even more about this craft

  48. Andrew Mills // April 24, 2012 at 11:51 am //

    I think I need all the help I can get and I bet this book will help.Thanks for sharing your knowlege with us

  49. Love Dr. BBQ’s books. One of his books is where I learned how to BBQ and make a great sauce. I would love to add this one to my library.

  50. caseydog // April 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm //

    I already have Big-Time BBQ Cookbook. It is the book I turn to most often. If I don’t win one, I’ll buy one — but free is always nice. :-)

  51. I’m a fan of any man who loves BBQ and wears flames. Just commenting… not signing up for the giveaway… I’ll buy one!

  52. John Ritcher // April 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm //

    Big fan of Dr. BBQ’s pork injection . Nothing else adds as much flavor deep inside a pork butt. Looking forwar to new book!

  53. The good Dr. is from Chicago. He knows food.

  54. Jeffrey R // April 24, 2012 at 3:00 pm //

    Nice Review. Sounds like a excellent book to add to my collection with recipes to try. I have to get the book. Thanks

  55. Chris Jenkins // April 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm //

    The recipe looks awsome you probably shouldn’t give me the book since I am going to try to buy it soon!

  56. Steve Moran // April 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm //

    Cant wait to check this book out. Nice review.

  57. Paul Maples // April 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm //

    I have his last book and look forward to getting this one. Thanks Ray for publishing another book and I cannot wait to see it and try some of the recipes.

  58. That pastrami looks delicious! I would love to try some of those recipes out.

  59. Kevin Kulp // April 28, 2012 at 5:24 pm //

    Ray is one of my favorite guests on the BBQ Central Show. I can’t wait to read the cookbook!

  60. Scott Rigby // April 29, 2012 at 7:37 am //

    I have 2 of Ray’s other cookbooks, which are great. I’m sure this one will be also.

  61. Since you are making your selection on May 1st this would be an *Awesome* birthday present!
    Personal Story: I wrote to Ray a while back and never expected a response from someone with the status and schedule he has. But, I was pleasently surprised that he has written back a few times and provided advice and help.
    Big supporter of *Paying it Forward* and Dr. BBQ is definitely one of those people. Thanks Ray for helping us Rookie’s!

  62. I want to win because I recently met Ray in person and want to read his recipes!

  63. I just want to look at Ray’s beard!!! Haha. Kidding. I’d actually give the copy to my brother whos been eyeing it since it came out last week. Nice review btw.

  64. I need to do something with the chargriller…it feels lonely

  65. Marty Owens // April 29, 2012 at 8:10 am //

    I know for a fact this would definetly get used in my household.

  66. I would like to win because you can:

    A) Never have enough BBQ cook books
    B) Ray has a sweet-ass beard
    C) I just got my first smoker and I need more ideas

  67. Shane Conrad // April 29, 2012 at 9:43 am //

    One of the things on my bucket list is to make the best ribs around. I may not accomplish this task, but I know this cookbook will sure help me try to “get ‘er done”!

  68. wildcat89 // April 29, 2012 at 11:37 am //

    I would like to win a copy of Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide To Barbecue to add to my collection of Ray Lampe cook books. The other books are great and I refer to them frequently. I would expect this book to be great.

  69. Love to add this to my other books

  70. Awesome pastrami recipe. If all the recipes are this good I need this book in my bbq collection. Thanks

  71. William S. // April 30, 2012 at 8:43 am //

    Great review, I could really use a book like this.

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