This spring’s crop of grilling cookbooks includes two from N.C. pitmasters — Sam Jones and Matthew Register. The latter fills his book with recipes — grilled and other — from all over the South. Grillmeister Steven Raichlen, the author of about 30 grilling books, is back with a book on everything and anything to do with beef brisket. Char-Broil gives us a lot of family-friendly recipes with a few easy steps. Ed Randolph takes a tour of barbecue restaurants around the country (including North Carolina), and Stan Hays Save and closeoffers a potpourri of recipes from chefs who participate in the disaster-relief efforts collectively known as Operation BBQ.
Whole Hog BBQ
(Ten Speed Press, $30)
Author: Sam Jones
Number of recipes: about 20.
Summary: There aren’t many recipes in the first book from North Carolina’s Sam Jones. One recipe alone takes more than 40 pages, including photos and illustrations. That one is for whole hog barbecue, the Eastern style that Jones has known all his life. Jones grew up at the Skylight Inn traditional barbecue restaurant that his family started in Ayden in 1947 and now runs the more modern Sam Jones BBQ in nearby Winterville. This book is as much a narrative of the Jones barbecue history as it is a cookbook. In addition to including just about everything you wanted to know about whole-hog barbecue, Jones includes a handful of other recipes, too, some cooked outside and some not.
Sample recipes: whole-hog Eastern N.C. barbecue, sweet coleslaw, cornbread, cabbage collards, pork spare ribs, pimento cheese, barbecue baked beans, smoked turkey breast, shrimp stew with scallops, pig pickin’ cake.
Target audience: fans of North Carolina barbecue.
(Harvard Common Press, $25)
Author: Matthew Register
Number of recipes: about 60.
Summary: Register, the owner of Southern Smoke restaurant in Garland, N.C., is like Sam Jones, one of several N.C. pitmasters earning a reputation outside the state. Register does not limit himself to N.C. barbecue here, but also explores the barbecue styles of Memphis, the Delta and other parts of the South — and the book is organized accordingly. Chapter subtitles are revealing. For North Carolina, the subtitle is “pork, vinegar and collards.” For the Lowcountry, it’s “shrimp, rice and okra.” A final chapter groups baked goods from around the South. “Southern Smoke” isn’t strictly a grilling or barbecue book — even though it has a 20-page section on “barbecue basics” — but one that encompasses Southern cooking in all its glory with recipes that mostly stick to the classics.
Sample recipes: smoked Boston butt with Eastern North Carolina vinegar sauce, Lenoir County fish stew, smoked shrimp, fire-roasted oysters, Delta tamales, Memphis dry-rub ribs, benne-seed cheddar drop biscuits, peanut pie.
Target audience: fans of Southern cooking.
The Brisket Chronicles (Workman, $19.95)
Author: Steven Raichlen
Number of recipes: about 60.
Summary: Raichlen is one of the foremost experts on grilling, with 30 books and four TV shows under his belt. He may have started his brisket adventures with braised brisket at Sabbath meals as a child, but he’s come a long way since then. Plenty of brisket recipes have appeared in his earlier books, but here he goes all out with lessons on curing, grilling, braising, boiling, stewing and even frying. In other words, this is more than a grilling book with such lessons as how to make your own pastrami and corned beef. He also comes up with some clever ways to use brisket, in scones, Vietnamese pho, salad, even cookies.
Sample recipes: pastrami, Korean brisket, smoked corned beef, corned beef and cabbage, brisket breakfast tacos, brisket tots, brisket cheeseburgers, brisket ramen, Irish spiced beef, kettle corn with crispy brisket.
Target audience: brisket lovers and grillers looking for the latest thing.
(Page Street Publishing, $30)
Author: Stan Hays with Tim O’Keefe
Number of recipes: about 200.
Summary: Hays is a barbecue competitor, and O’Keefe a barbecue judge. Also, Hays is a co-founder of Operation BBQ Relief, which provides free meals to disaster-stricken communities. To date, it has served 2.9 million meals in 25 states — and a portion of the book goes to support the organization. Recipes in the book come from more than 70 competitive barbecue teams that cook for Operation BBQ Relief. Recipes cover a wide path that not only includes traditional meats but also side dishes, desserts and more - on and off the grill. Chapters cover pork; beef and lamb; poultry; burgers and sandwiches; seafood; casseroles and stews; apps and sides; desserts; and rubs, sauces and brines. Recipes are a good mix of the familiar and the new.
Sample recipes: chicken spiedini, smoked-sausage-stuffed pork tenderloin, smoky tamari-lime tri-tip, teriyaki salmon tacos, Portuguese egg bake, Mexican lasagna, apple caramel salted galette, pineapple poblano salsa.
Target audience: all-around grillers looking for variety and wanting to support a cause.
(Page Street Publishing, $25)
Author: Ed Randolph
Number of recipes: about 70.
Summary: Randolph is a pitmaster who owns Handsome Devil BBQ restaurant in Newburgh, N.Y. For this book, he traveled to more than 40 restaurants from New York to California to Texas, including two in North Carolina — Buxton Hall in Asheville and Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville. Each provides one to three recipes, preceded by a profile of the contributing restaurant and pitmaster. Though the book has some classic recipes, including smoked chicken wings and Brunswick stew, it leans toward the more interesting and creative dishes (not all of which are grilled) that have distinguished these pitmasters from the pack. Sadly, this book has a serious flaw in that some of the recipes call for a restaurant’s signature rub or sauce — but does not include recipes for those components.
Sample recipes: chicken bog, smoked lamb banh mi, peach hand pies, brisket Benedict, smoked green beans, gochujang pork ribs, watermelon ribs, bourbon-cured smoked salmon, devil’s smoked mac’n’cheese.
Target audience: Fans of trend-setting pitmasters.
Char-Broil Grilling for the Family
(Fox Chapel Publishing, $25)
Author: Staff at Char-Broil.
Number of recipes: about 300.
Summary: Ostensibly a companion book designed to sell Char-Broil grills, this book shouldn’t be written off too quickly. The folks at Char-Broil have a good handle on what mainstream America likes and wants to cook on its grills. And its recipes, though perhaps somewhat basic for advanced cooks, are straightforward and doable for even beginners. Recipes focus on the meat-and-potatoes recipes that so many American love, but also throw in a few ethnic and contemporary touches. There’s plenty of information on cooking times, grill safety and more. And this book offers more recipes for the buck than most.
Sample recipes: grilled steak and eggs with asparagus, cola ribs, cheesy bacon potatoes, dessert French toast, honey and lime prawns, guacamole burgers, pineapple teriyaki chicken, grilled nachos, portabella pizza.
Target audience: beginners and others looking for straightforward, crowd-pleasing recipes.