Cook Books

Darren Wright

Staff member
Springfield, Missouri
What are some of your favorite cook books? These are some of my favorite BBQ go-to books...

Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures and Glazes by Jim Tarantino

That is one of my favorites as it covers a lot of the details of why you would use some ingredients with one type of meat (acidic levels, meat types/tenderness, and cooking temps).

The Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook : Barbeque... It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore by Kansas City Barbeque Society Members (1996, Hardcover)

Some good basic KC style recipes covering all of the major categories of competition, including deserts. There is a newer edition out though I haven't reviewed yet (

The Barbecue! Bible : Over 500 Recipes! by Steven Raichlen (1998, Paperback, Anniversary)

Covers more than just meats, good variety of recipes
I have the "Bible" too. But I'm a little new at it so haven't really jumped into it yet. The Southern Living BBQ cookbook is well adaptable to smoke/grilling. Every now and then, PBS put on one of Raichlens shows...grillcam is pretty cool!
Overall I think forums and sites beat a cookbook.
It dawned on me that years ago when I had a Charbroil H2O smoker, like I'm sure many of us had!, My brother gave me a cookbook...California Culinary Academy Book of Barbecuing, Grilling and Smoking. Now keep in mind, this is old school, before AMZN, before Masterbuilt, before much of anything short of charcoal and hardwood smokers. This one will get some attention this weekend. Great source and looks like good grub!
From my shelves I'd put on:
Bittman, How to cook everything - this is always a good book to pick up when you need a recipe that just plain works and will taste good to most people
Cooks Illustrated Best Recipes - I kinda like this one better than the "New Best Recipes" - I wish sometimes we hadn't given it to my Mom and kept the latter
Hamady, Lebanese Mountain Cookery - a little off of the beaten path but if you like Middle Eastern food this is a special gem. Some unusual and delicious dishes.
Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques - need to know how to do something? Anything? Good chance its in here.
Rhulman, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing - if you like sausage and cured meats.. this is one of the best starter books.

I'll leave you with our most made recipe from the Bittman book.

Cheese Straws
½ pound Cheddar or other hard, flavorful cheese
1/3 pound Parmesan cheese (optional imho we usually just use the Cheddar)
2 cups (about 9 ounces) all-purpose flour
Pinch cayenne
8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into chunks, plus a little more for greasing the baking sheet
Few drops ice water, if necessary
Coarse salt (optional).

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Grate cheese by hand or in food processor and place in bowl. Pulse flour and cayenne in processor. Add butter and process until butter and flour are combined. Pulse in cheese.

3. Turn out onto counter or cutting board and knead by hand, adding a few drops of ice water only if necessary to get it to stick. (You may wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 days, taking it out for about a half hour before proceeding.)

3. Roll out into a rectangle about ¼-inch thick, on a lightly floured surface or between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, then cut into ½-inch-wide strips (I usually go a bit narrower to maybe 3/8 or even 1/4) as long as you like. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, if using (salt sticks better if you brush lightly with water). Bake until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.