“Smokin’ Hot in the South: New Grilling Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue” by Melissa Cookston, A ndrews McMeel Publishing, $22.99,
180 pages, hardcover
Unlike many Southern families, mine has never been into grilling and smoking.
Oh, when I was growing up, my mom would occasionally ask Dad to heat up the barbecue grill, almost always for Father’s Day and the Fourth of July. But, I don’t believe my father — and later my husband — were very enthusiastic about cooking outside. Give them an air-conditioned kitchen any day.
Perhaps they might have been more interested if they had had someone like Melissa Cookston to help them cook with fire.
Cookston is hot in the world of barbecue. A two-time Memphis in May Grand Champion and four-time World Hog Champion, she owns and is the pitmaster at Memphis Barbecue Company restaurants.
Needless to say, if you’re looking for grilling or smoking advice, you can’t go wrong turning to Cookston.
In her second cookbook, “Smokin’ Hot in the South: New Grilling Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue,” she offers more than 85 of her favorite recipes from rubs and sauces to desserts.
In the book’s introduction, Cookston says she doesn’t “like to be constrained and bound by certain ingredients, flavors, or ideas of what someone thinks is mandatory.” What’s important for flavor on the barbecue circuit is to “just make it taste good,” she writes.
The book’s first chapter looks at the pitmaster’s basics — the pros and cons of various smokers, cookers and grills; the tools you must have; the tools “you will wonder how you ever did without”; charcoals and woods; how to set up a grill; and the pantry.
Among Cookston’s recipes are those for Smoked Bell Pepper Relish, Southern Meat Pies, Double-Cut Pork Chops with Fresh Peach Chutney and Warm Grilled Potato Salad, Beef Brisket Flat, Grilled Soft Shell Crabs with Stone-Ground Grit Cakes and Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce, and Grilled Corn Succotash.
Many of the recipes are illustrated with full-color photographs.
No Father’s Day celebration would be complete without a good dessert, and Cookston includes recipes for some desserts prepared on the grill plus more traditional cooking methods. With Louisiana blueberries in season, her Blueberry Butter Pie makes a sweet ending to a “smokin’ hot” meal.
Happy Father’s Day!
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at email@example.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.