I have been cooking over fire for over 50 years, mostly using Weber grills and after market products, many of which I have reviewed here. The books by Jamie Purviance ( I believe that there are now nine) have been and are the basic "go to" resources when I need either a recipe or some grilling advice. I suspect that buying "another cook book" other than by Jamie would provoke a "domestic tsunami" but, as I write this, I see the SO eyeing the book, and I'd probably draw some ire if I didn't buy it.
So, gentle reader, why should you shell out some coin for this one?
Well, if your idea of outdoor cooking is burning burgers on Memorial Day and the 4th, my advice is: Don't! But if you are at all like me, and grill a lot, I urge you to get and read this book, and here are some reasons why.
1. IT'S A LEARNING TOOL. If you smoke on a regular basis, you can skip this paragraph. But if you don't, one good reason to get this book is to learn how. As Jamie notes, and I underscore, smoke is a seasoning, and as with most seasonings, "less is more". Too much salt, garlic or smoke can ruin a meal, while just the right amount can take good food into the stratosphere! Jamie is a good teacher in this book, and if you read and follow the advice he offers, you will start getting some serious "atta boys!" (or "atta girls!") when the food hits the table (hopefully plated).
2. THE RECIPES ARE SIMPLE. One of the constants in the Purviance/Weber library is that there is an emphasis on simplicity. Not at the expense of flavor, mind, but in ease of understanding, preparation and cooking. At my advanced age, I am simply not interested in spending three days preparing a meal, nomatter how good the finished product is.
3. DOING NEW THINGS WITH OLD FAVORITES. In the winter, we like "comfort foods", like braised short ribs or osso bucco. When I see a new way to do one of these dishes (like beer braised and mesquite smoked short ribs) I start to salivate. Similarly, when I see something called "pacific rim pork roast" which uses low and slow to do a pork shoulder, I'm on it!
4. THE BOOK IS WELL ORGANIZED. Don't you hate it when you have to use the index at the back of a book to find information you need? This one is easy to use: it starts with a section on "smoking basics", then has recipes organized by sections like appetizers, red meat, etc. Each section starts with a list of the recipes contained there. It could not be set up any better. Oh yes! there are great pics of each dish.
5. YUMMY RESULTS. Is there any reason at all to buy a cookbook that does not produce food that is incredibly tasty? Not where I sit. And that, gentle reader, is probably the main reason that I have added each of Jamie's books to the kitchen shelf as soon as I see them here. Simply put, whether I am cooking for me, or the family or for friends, I have been able to rely on the Purviance/Weber team for reliable, tasty recipes which produce consistantly high level results.
Normally, I cook out all year long. OK, a bit less when there's a lot of snow on the deck, but about twice a week then, and a lot more when the snow and ice are gone. With what looks like an early spring (last week was amazing and I was at the grills 5 days out of 6)I have already planned several meals using this book, and knowing the SO, there will be requests (demands?) for more. Smoking food well requires a knowledge of fire maintenance and careful use of the smoking process. If you let Jamie be your teacher, the learning will be fun and productive.