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Book Review: Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue by Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe

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I’m from Texas so it’s a given I’d be interested in learning more about barbequing, even though I’m not the “beginner” of the cookbook’s subtitle. The introduction of Slow Fire by Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe starts off with, “There is something magical about barbeque that makes it different from any other cuisine. No matter where my travels take me there is always a local barbecue joint that is known far and wide as the best there is and the people who are there are revered.” I sure can agree because I’ve noticed the same thing.

Dr. BBQ, in Slow Fire, gives encouraging information before starting to cook. His “Tools and Techniques” section includes: Types of Cookers (smokers, pits, and grills), Charcoal and Wood, and Barbeque Tools. Recipe types include: Spices and Sauces, Ribs, Port, Beef, Birds, Anything But, and the Necessary Side dishes.

For the purpose of the review we are asked to test three recipes. I first wanted to create a sauce, and as I perused all the recipes in that section I chose “Orange-Chipotle Barbeque Sauce.” The recipe asked for orange juice, tomato sauce, honey, chipotle puree, salt and pepper, cumin, and onion and garlic powders. This was all simmered and then cooled. The sauce was on the sweet side and you could slightly taste the citrus essence. The aroma was pleasant as well.

The second recipe I tested was “Cozy Corner-Style Cornish Hens.” The hens were placed in a brine consisting of lemons, soy sauce, honey, thyme, pepper, and ice water for three hours. Once removed from the brine and dried, they were sprinkled with a rub of brown sugar, herbs, and spices. The recipe suggested cherry wood for smoke flavor but I used mesquite instead. It took the hens two and a half hours to get to an internal temperature of 180 F. (The recipe suggested two hours.) I served the “Orange-Chipotle Barbeque Sauce” with the hens. Served with “Carolina-Style Slaw” and crusty rolls, the hens were a hit with our dinner guests. This is one recipe I’ll be making again.

My third recipe to test was the “Carolina-Style Slaw” I served with the hens. The dressing consisted of olive oil, cider vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper. This was tossed with a package of pre-shredded coleslaw mix. The dressing was tangy, yet sweet – a perfect addition to the meal, and certainly making for a wonderful change from the usual mayo-based coleslaw.

I highly recommend Slow Fire by Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe to beginners because it will get you hooked on barbequing. But I also recommend this cookbook for veterans because there are some great recipes to add to your favorites. Although you may be known for a specific recipe, I encourage you to step out of the box and make some of the dishes provided by Dr. BBQ – I promise, you will not be sorry.

(Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views)

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About Cristina Lanzi