BBQ Cookbooks

Father's Day Gifts

With Father’s Day fast approaching many people are scrambling to come up with a gift their Dad will love.  If your Dad loves to grill and barbecue (Like me!) then I chances are that he would really enjoy a few good books on the subject.  Below is a list of the Top Ten reading gifts to get for your Dad for Father’s Day.

  • Peace, Love and Barbecue by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe.  Mike Mills is known as “The Legend” in the world of competitive barbeque and is the only three time winner of the Grand World Champion at Memphis in May.   Mike also runs several highly successful barbecue restaurants and is based in southern Illinois.  The basis of this book is interviews that Mike conducts with friends he has made over the years in the world of barbeque.  His friends include fellow competitors, restaurant owners and food writers.  The recipes and tips Mike shares are very good but what makes this book worthwhile are the wonderful conversations he has with people who really love barbecue.
  • Championship Barbecue by Paul Kirk.  Paul Kirk, also known as The Baron of Barbeque, has won seven world championships in various prestigious barbeque competitions.  Paul has put together this 470 page textbook with the intent of teaching you how to become a master of barbeque.  Paul’s writing is to the point, instructive and comes with great authority.  His book is crammed with recipes, ideas and techniques.  I had the privilege of attending a barbeque class given by Paul Kirk and found that 95% of everything he teaches in the class comes straight from this book.  
  • Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from the Pit Bosses by Robb Walsh.  Robb Walsh is a James Beard Award winning food writer who has created a beautiful book dedicated to the traditions of Texas barbecue.  The amazing black and white photographs alone make this book worth owning.  Robb takes you on a tour through Smitty’s Market and several other legendary barbecue joints, but he also takes you to Darrington Penitentiary and everywhere else in between.  
  • Smokestack Lightening: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country by Lolis Eric Elie and Frank Stewart.  Lolis and Frank wrote and photographed one of the most highly regarded books on the subject of barbecue culture and tradition.  After Smokestack Lightening was written the journeys in it were partially recreated while filming a documentary on the subject.  It’s not often you can watch a movie about barbecue and say, “Oh yes, I read the book.”
  • How to Grill by Steve Raichlen.  The title of this book is an excellent and honest description.  This book is a broadly written, well illustrated text that covers the art of grilling, as opposed to the excellent focus on barbecuing provided by Championship Barbecue.  While there is some overlap between these two books they make great companions.  The recipes are well written and the illustrations are plentiful and useful.  There is information around grilling basics (fire management, basic burgers) for beginners as well as some advanced recipes like bourbon brined pork steaks that will provide new ideas and inspirations for seasoned grill masters.  Raichlen is a James Beard Award winning writer who is passionate about grilling.  If your Dad already has a copy of How to Grill feel free to substitute another Raichlen book such as Barbecue Bible.
  • Weber’s Big Book of Grilling by Jaime Purviance.  The recipes in this book are not outstanding or overly original.  What makes this book worthwhile is the combination of okay recipes, great photography and very interesting writing concerning the history of Weber.  The title of the book is literal this large book is about the size of some smaller “coffee table” books.  The size of the book really makes the photos that much more impressive.  This isn’t a book I turn to for instruction or inspiration but it is one that I keep lying around on a countertop.  After you flip through a few pages you get excited to go back outside and grill something.
  • Chile Pepper Magazine.  Chile Pepper is a great magazine dedicated to grilling, barbecue, chili, fiery foods and just all around good things.  This magazine is worth the subscription just for the advertisements.  The magazine is very well written, covers a variety of topics and has wonderful photographs.
  • Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook: A Real Barbecue Champion Brings the Tasty Recipes and Juicy Stories of the Barbecue Circuit to Your Backyard by Ray Lampe.  Ray Lampe, a.k.a Dr. BBQ, is another celebrity in the barbecue world.  Lampe has a strong, some say abrasive, personality but he is highly accessible and open minded.  Ray is the chief spokesman for one of the nicest and most expensive grills/smokers available, the Big Green Egg.  Ray’s book is very readable, is packed with great recipes and gives you the confidence to try new things.  This book serves as a great reference for techniques and recipes but also makes for excellent reading. 
  • Bruce Aidells's Complete Sausage Book : Recipes from America's Premium Sausage by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly.  Sausages are one of the first things all new grillers learn to cook.  Hot dogs, bratwursts, and polish sausages like kielbasa are in every grillers repertoire.  While everyone likes to grill sausages, very few people know how to make their own.  Making sausages is actually pretty easy and once you discover the process it opens up a whole new world of grilling.  No longer are you stuck grilling the low grade mass marketed sausage sold at the local Mega Mart.  Now you can create your own custom sausage using exactly the cuts and quality of meat you want and adding your own seasoning combinations.   This book is an excellent introduction to the world of sausage making.  
  • The Vegetarian Grill: 200 Recipes for Inspired Flame-Kissed Meals by Andrea Chesman.  Grillers sometimes get stuck in a mind trap that associates grilling with manliness and big platters of seared meat.  This is a shame as by focusing completely on meat people miss the opportunity to grill wonderful dishes like bread and cheese stuffed tomatoes or fire roasted corn on the cob.  It’s pretty fast and easy to season up and grill sliced zucchini.  Grilled veggies are great and sadly overlooked part of a grilled feast.  Get this book in front of your favorite griller to inspire them to get out of the meat only trap.  

This is a library that any grilling and barbecue enthusiast would be proud to own.  Hopefully you can find something in the list that will make the perfect Father’s Day gift.  Enjoy!