Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling by Meathead Goldwyn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There are literally tons of BBQ cookbooks out there. Why this one? Well, Meathead does something most of them don’t – he backs up his techniques with science. BBQ has existed as long as mankind so a lot of what we do is just father->son or mother->daughter (or some combination of gen 1 to gen 2) and a lot of it is wrong. Humans suck at intuition. So Meathead along with Dr Blonder use science to backup their techniques and ideas. This leads to 2 great benefits.
When it comes to the opening section about techniques, software, and hardware – Meathead is able to calmly present all the pros and cons to everything he talks about. Rather than get into a religious war about charcoal vs gas vs wood – he just lists out the pros and cons of each. (Along with the best advice: If you can afford it and have space – get both!) When it comes to myth-busting he uses science and trial runs to back up his bustings.
When it comes to the recipes, he’s able to cut away a lot of the fluff from recipes by getting them to the essence of what you need. I was able to master a prime rib roast on the first try thanks to his scientific proofs of why it was better to get rid of the bones and try and get the roast as cylindrical as possible.
Like all printed material, the con about this book over his free website is that the website can be updated as Meathead discovers new techniques and ideas. For example, the website now has a section dedicated to starting BBQ in a sous vide and finishing it on the BBQ. Also, the website has more up to date equipment reviews and recommendations.
However, there’s one benefit to the book over the website. Because books have to be succint due to a per page cost, you don’t get all the commentary with each recipe. You just get the recipe. On the website, many of the recipes contain the same info about how to do a 2-zone cook. In the book that’s at the beginning and then each recipe stands on its own along with a short intro paragraph. So I like to read the website during my lunch break to see any gotchas he lists. Then when it’s time to actually cook, I use the book to quickly cut to the chase.
One last important thing. Meathead, at least in this book, is not as self-centered as many of the other well-known BBQ book authors. Other cookbooks waste time talking about how awesome the author is. Not so with this one. It’s just spreading the love and joy of cooking with fire. In fact, Meathead doesn’t hold back on any of the recipes including rubs and marinades that many others make their money off of. I bought the book as a show of support to keep him able to work on the website fulltime and continue educating people in this great way of cooking food.