Chef Tim Byres of Smoke has a new cookbook out today. Smoke: New Firewood Cooking is a simple story about a boy, smoke and meat, highlighted with some beautiful photography by Jody Horton. In addition to recipes and cooking methods, there's a section for the more industrious cooks, like how to build a backyard fire pit, smokehouse and spit roast.
Subtitled "How to Build Flavor with Fire on the Grill and in the Kitchen," the bright red cover with minimalist drawings alludes to Byers' primitive approach to flavor through smoke. It looks like the carnivore's field guide to conquering fire.
Joshua Ozersky writes in the forward that Byres points us to "the roots of American regional cooking, to our caveman past, and beyond. But it's also a way of his own, that no other chef can exactly replicate ..."
The cookbook serves as much as a do-it-yourself guide as anything as it takes readers through purchasing and seasoning wood, how to use natural charcoal and the importance of ash, along with details on cooking with direct and indirect heat.
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"Part One: Stocking a Larder" is the readers' "secret arsenal" of rubs, jams and pickles. "Part Two: New Firewood Cooking" looks to be the soul of the book, where fire and meat bring people together. Then, once you're ready (and presumably passed some type of rite of passage) there are four feasts to conquer: a Gulf Coast seafood boil, a Tejano barbacoa, a pig roast and a campfire brisket.
One could spend the summer with this book tucked under arm, stomping around the backyard in boots, creating fire, seducing meat with smoke, making an amazing amount of new friends, all while plotting going off-grid with this single guide that harkens to our rustic and primitive sensibilities.
Also, remember Mother's Day is just around the corner. Nothing says "I love you, Mom" like a guide to fire pits, sausage making and from-scratch tamales.
Smoke: New Firewood Cooking is available through Amazon for $24.46.