Written by adam on Aug 8, 2005
A Real Pro Dishes Up Barbeque Divinity
Filed Under: Books
Ray Lampe is the real deal. He's a real barbeque professional that has earned championship trophies from Texas to South Carolina with succulent pork shoulder, tender brisket, and fall-off-the bone good ribs. You won't find him standing over a polished stainless steel propane grill on a balcony overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. You might find him standing over a black steel drum smoker in a backyard somewhere, or perhaps at the Big Pig Jig cooking slabs of pork on an oval-shaped barbeque contraption called a Big Green Egg, which he so aptly named Lisa Marie.
Ray Lampe doesn't just talk about barbeque. He lives and breathes it every day. Known as Doctor BBQ on the barbeque circuit, Lampe has just released his debut cookbook called Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook. Written by Lampe himself, this 300-page book contains advice for the home pit master, stories from his days on the barbeque championship circuit, and hundreds of mouth-watering recipes that can be cooked on a grill or smoker.
Lampe's tales have a very quaint humor about them, some of which you might only find amusing if you've ever hovered over a hot smoker throwing a mop onto some meat while the smoke stings your eyes. The introduction that he has written is an invitation into the world of barbeque, it's ups and downs, and the lingo that every good fanatic should know. In fact, the way that Lampe uses such terminology suggests that the reader of this book already be familiar with barbequing, the circuit, and some insider information that may not be known otherwise. Such as, the definition of a "mop," and when you might use one, the difference between a rub and a schmear or a marinade and a brine; and the secret behind that pink ring that gets inside the meat after being in the smoke.
If the personal accounts, quips, and humor don't suck you in, the delicious array of recipes will certainly leave you hungry for more. The entire back half of the book contains a multitude of recipes that can be made at home, using a grill or smoker. The multi-cultural plethora includes Grill-Roasted Rabbit with Classic Aioli Sauce, Spicy Smoked Chicken Frittata, and Lampe's own $1000 Maple Bean Pie, an award-winning variation on barbeque baked beans.
If the venison-stuffed peppers or smoked salmon haven't left the reader foaming at the mouth, the classic barbeque picnic desserts certainly will. The section starts with classics like banana pudding and vanilla flan then progresses to the mouth-wateringly scrumptious Bread Pudding with Dr. Jack Sauce.
I will say that the entire book leaves me with palpitations from the shock of such tasty-sounding recipes. And yes, the tacos, flautas and fettucine sound delicious, but where Lampe excels is in his instruction on making the staples of the barbeque circuit: brisket, ribs, pork shoulder or butt, and whole hog. There are recipes for each of these categories, and even a set of instructions for cooking an entire pig in the ground.
Doctor BBQ wastes no space and no time discussing the methods for lighting a fire and what woods to use. Though I respect the man for the barbeque genius that he is, I can never fully forgive him for the way he talks about one of my favorite smoking woods, Mesquite. Likening the smell of burning Mesquite to the devil's ass-crack, Lampe avoids mesquite at all costs. Personally, I don't think that pork is actually cooked properly unless it is done with Mesquite. But this is one thing that makes barbequing great, the fact that it's done in so many ways with so many different materials, a fact that is not lost on Lampe in the first chapter of the book.
The most intriguing aspect of this publication is the way that Mr. Lampe treats the material-as if you were sitting under a tarp at a barbeque cook-off preparing your food for the judges. Many times, he mentions what judges like and dislike and what could win you serious points. Lampe even goes as far to explain how judging works for certain competition entries like steaks and ribs.
If there were anything to criticize about the Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook, it would have less to do with the material and more to do with the production, typesetting, and layout. Like any good cookbook, the recipes are laid out in a very logical and predictable fashion-ingredients on the left and instruction and commentary on the right. Many of the recipes have a long-winded back story typed in red ink just above the actual cooking instructions. Normally, this amount of text would bother me, but it works with Lampe's story-telling style.
St. Martin's Griffin has done a nice job of pulling together a unique collection of stories and recipes from a one-of-a-kind dude, but I would think that a publishing company could hire a graphic artist that knows something about typesetting. For instance, the red text can cause considerable eyestrain if read too much. Any art director with a lick of experience could tell you that. The all-red ink pictures are hard to make out, the grayscale shots need some boost in contrast, and I don't know what was going on with the red/black photomontage.
But hey, I could nitpick typesetting all day long. Doctor Barbecue probably wouldn't care. He'd probably put a glass of Old No.7 in one of my hands and a rib in the other and tell me to chill out.
And that's what I have come away with after reading the Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook. Ray Lampe is the real deal. He doesn't care how it gets done, just that you put meat over fire and make something delicious. And that you enjoy doing it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Doctor is in.
Responses to "A Real Pro Dishes Up Barbeque Divinity" ...
Here through BE. Great tagline. Now if only the blog had smell a vision, we'd be set.:)