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Book Review: ‘Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Food’ by Karen Putman and Judith Fertig

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Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Foods was written by trained chef and well-decorated barbecue champion, Karen Putnam, who really made a name for herself in the world of championship barbecuing including a grand championship in the American Royal and several world championships before her untimely death due to breast cancer in October 2011.

At first glance, this book appears to be about BBQ, but in fact it is about slow-smoking. Slow-smoked foods, or real North American barbecue, are foods cooked next to a fire, low and slow, flavored with wood smoke. Of course the results are transcendent, with succulent, finger-lickin’ ribs, brisket, salmon and much more.

You’ll learn about slow smoking foods, although the book seems to be directed at those gearing up for competitions more than for the novice cook. Part of the joy of looking through and trying recipes is looking at all the beautiful images; this book is shy on those which made it slightly less interesting to page through.

If you are experienced on the BBQ and looking to add slow-smoked foods and competitions to your repertoire, this book is for you. If you are a novice, there are better options out there for you.

Excerpted from Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Food by Karen Putman & Judith Fertig, page 346, © 2013 www.robertrose.ca, Reprinted with permission.

This recipe took first place in its category at the Kansas State Fair barbecue contest and helped me win the Kansas State Grand Championship at the National Lamb-BQ Contest.

Recommended wood: a combination of cherry and sugar maple


TIP: “French” the bones by scraping the bits of fat and flesh off the ends with a sharp knife (or have the butcher do this).


Grand Champion Herb Paste:

  • 1 cup olive oil (250 mL)
  • 1⁄4 cup each packed fresh thyme, basil and mint leaves (60 mL)
  • 3 tbsp seasoned salt (45 mL)
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary needles (30 mL)
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic (30 mL)
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots (15 mL)

4 racks of lamb, fat removed and bones frenched (see Tip)
1⁄2 cup prepared mustard (125 mL)
1⁄4 cup amber liquid honey (60 mL)


  1. Prepare the paste: In a food processor, process oil, thyme, basil, mint, seasoned salt, rosemary, garlic and shallots for 1 minute, or until mixture becomes a loose paste.
  2. Place lamb in a large sealable plastic bag and pour in paste. Seal bag, toss to coat and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. Remove lamb from paste and pat dry. Discard paste.
  4. In a small bowl, combine mustard and honey; brush onto lamb. Set aside.
  5. Prepare a fire in your smoker. (For instructions, see pages 13–16.)
  6. Place lamb directly on the smoker rack, add wood to the coals and close the lid. Smoke at 225ºF to 250ºF (110ºC to 120ºC) for about 11⁄2 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of a rack reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF (63ºC) for medium-rare, or until desired doneness.


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About Kathleen Riley-Daniels

Adventurer, Photographer, Author, Artist, Cooking, Genealogy, Dogs, Horses, Marketing and oh so much more.