One of my favorite things about this blog is the opportunities I have had to review cookbooks, particularly when they are on my favorite cooking topic, grilling and barbeque. Thus I was extremely excited to get a copy of the “The Kansas City Barbeque Society’s 25th Anniversary Cookbook” by Paul Kirk, Carolyn Wells and Ardie Davis. I was excited about this book but as a worked my way through my excitement turned to disappointment and if you are looking for a book on barbeque you will ultimately be disappointed too.
The book suffers from a total lack of focus. When I page through a BBQ book by the foremost authorities on American BBQ don’t want to see recipes for mashed potato pizza, cucumber and cheese sandwiches and recipes for traditional pasta sauce (To their credit they do include their take on Neely’s delicious BBQ spaghetti) I don’t want recipes for main dishes that not only don’t include any BBQ’ed meats but don’t even involve a grill or a smoker at all. I want a booked filled with smoked and grilled everything. I want to see how to smoke and grill every last part of a pig, cow, lamb or chicken. I want tips, techniques, and secrets of KCBS members. I want page after page of barbeque food porn, not family-reunion type photos of KCBS members who I have never heard of. I felt as if I was paging through a high school yearbook from a school where I knew nobody. The recipes are more akin to what you would expect if a bunch of neighbors got together and made a cookbook out of their favorite recipes and I am sure that if I knew all these people and their cooking styles, I’d love this book.
The biggest disappointment is knowing what this book could have (and quite frankly should have) been. They could have created a book that was a must-have for any barbeque aficionado. It could have become the “go-to” reference for barbeque fans. They could have filled it with award winning rubs, sauces, and marinades. Instead they chose to create what is essentially a hodge-podge of recipes whose only unifying feature is that they were submitted by KCBS members. The recipes for any smoked meats in this book pretty much read like this:
1 whole chicken
2 cups of your favorite marinade
1/4 to 1/2 of your favorite barbeque rub
I am not making this up. People who buy this book don’t want to use their favorite rub they want the book to give them recipes for different rubs from bbq pros. They want different recipes for sauces and marinades.
Despite my disappointment, the book is not a total loss. I loved the section on all of the different smoking hardwoods and some of the tips and tricks they mention are kind of interesting. There are pages of charts detailing doneness, cooking temperatures, and smoking times and I should add that there are actually some recipes that deserve your attention such as Amberbock Wings and a dish that features chicken livers, spicy cheese grits, and fried onion rings. There are also a couple of recipes submitted by Wisconsin’s own Ronalc Lewis Buchholz (including an impressive sounding stuffed jalapeno recipe) The book could almost be called “BBQ sides and appetizers because it does have a lot of dishes that would pair well with your next bbq event. Unfortunately if you are looking to step up your actual barbeque game, you’d best look elsewhere. I’d recommend this book’s co-author Paul Kirk’s “Championship Barbeque” for starters.
The Kansas City Barbeque Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbeque, is the world’s largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts with over 13,000 members worldwide. KCBS sanctions almost 300 barbeque contests coast-to-coast throughout America. From volunteering to actual event production, our members also offer assistance to civic and charitable organizations who organize events.
Wisconsin is host to a number of KCBS events including the immensly popular Burning Down the Fox held annually in Princeton, Wisconsin. http://www.burningdownthefox.com/content/ The KCBS will also be making an appearance at the Wisconsin State Fair August 5th through 8th.