This book couldn't have come to me at a better time, the weather is finally warming up and I'm ready to pull the tarp off the grill. Well, I'm ready have my husband pull the tarp off the grill and do the cooking while I kick back and relax with a cold drink in hand. I'll fully admit that my talents with food don't extend to BBQ, my husband is in charge of the grill and this is an area he truly excels at. I'm perfectly content to be the one in charge of all the extras and I'm also happy to report that this book has no lack of mouthwatering side-dishes, some of which are familiar favorites, others were a little more unexpected.
Speaking of unexpected, it was a bit of a surprise when I learned that Virgil's flagship restaurant is in NYC, on Times Square no less. My own food experiences in the Big Apple have leaned more towards haute cuisine, although there was one night of truly excellent Chinese food and a hot dog from a food cart in front of Metropolitan Museum of Art that was eaten on a dare. You may notice that barbecue doesn't grace my list of food I've eaten while in NYC and honestly it didn't even cross my mind once while I was there; I'm sure I'm not alone in that, it just isn't what NYC is known for. Despite this Artie Cutler, founder of Virgil's, wanted to bring authentic BBQ to the heart of the city, no matter what the challenges. With so many regional styles of BBQ and opinions as to which is superior, I'm sure it was no small feat to bring barbecue to the Big Apple and make his business a success. They're celebrating their 20th anniversary this year so they must be doing something right.
After flipping through this cookbook I realized just how they managed to hold on to their success for so long in one of the most competitive cities in the restaurant industry. They have an absolutely mouthwatering lineup, I don't think I came across a single thing that I wouldn't eat and in case you were wondering, many of the recipes from the restaurant's menu make an appearance in this book. Accompanying the recipes are beer pairings, so if you're a fan of beer (and I know not everyone is) then you may appreciate this addition. They even manage to pack in a fair amount of vegetables for a book on barbecue, but vegetarians be forewarned, this is a book purely for those who enjoy eating meat and lots of it, most of the recipes won't adapt well to your lifestyle.
If you wonder how this book stacks up to your preferred regional style of BBQ, it does a fairly decent job of representing the most popular styles, those being Memphis, the Carolinas, Kansas City, and Texas. Each of these regions excel at different things and no matter what you're personal preferences I'm sure you'll find more than a few recipes you'll love. The lesser-known regional styles aren't as well represented, St. Louis style ribs are briefly mentioned and I was excited to see a recipe for Alabama White Sauce. I was introduced to this amazing condiment a year or so back while I was in Huntsville visiting friends. Just so you're aware, it makes pulled pork absolutely mind blowing.
For you die-hards who won't ever try a style other than the one you grew up with (I know you're out there,) there are still comprehensive chapters on drinks and sides that may interest you. If you're a complete novice there are chapters dedicated to the art and science of barbecue as well as necessary gear and cooking techniques. This book has something for everyone, even if you think you have all the knowledge you need for the perfect backyard barbecue, you may want to take a peak at this book, the recipes will add some variety to your gathering.
Where to Purchase
Amazon - Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook
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