Franklin Barbecue in Austin TX sells at least 1500 pounds of meat a day. Every morning they have a line of people snaking around the corner, people who have been in line for hours in the cold, or the rain, or the heat. Since the day they opened their doors they have sold out every single day. Sold out. 1500 pounds of meat. Every single day. This guy is on to something.
After reading Franklin Barbecue (currently #1 on Amazon) by Aaron Franklin and Jordon Macay, I found myself a little awe struck. Aaron Franklin has generously opened his mind to you and written everything he knows about barbecue, passed it along simply because he wants you to cook well and learn from his success. It is like interning at the side of the master.
This is not a traditional cookbook, it is a "meat-smoking manifesto". If you are ready to get serious about smoking there is no other book that will give you all the information to set you on the right path. Every other barbecue out there has a few pages of information at the front and many, many recipes. This book is filled with knowledge, and once you get the techniques then you really only need a few recipes to produce food that is going to make and invitation to your house the one that people clear the calendar for.
The book begins with a very enjoyable history of Aaron Franklin's path the barbecue greatness. Spoiler alert, it did not start in the kitchens of CIA. From there we jump in to the smokers. Chapter Two, The Smoker, goes over different types of smokers, how to build your own smoker, and how to modify that store bought one you picked up on clearance last December. Finally there is the care and maintence of your new best friend. We are now at page 68, this is serious information.
Chapter three is all about the wood, types, sourcing, seasoning, spliting, and quantities.
After wood comes Fire & Smoke. I was a Girl Scout for many, many years, and have built my share of fires, but a quick flip through this chapter let me know that I really do not know anything. Anyone can mimic the steps to builng a wood fire, but unless you know the whys and what to look for, and have clear idea of what you are trying to achive, you are simply rolling the dice. I will never look at a pile of firewood in the same way again.
We get all the way to page 103 before the Meat chapter begins. Franklin's Barbeque sells at least 1500 pounds of meat a day. That is a lot of meat, and remember, they ALWAYS sell out. The meat chapter is so involved it does not just give you the cuts of meat, it talks about different breeds, grades, and packaging. Brisket (my favorite!), beef ribs, pork ribs, pork butt, sausage, and turkey are all here.
Finally we get to the The Cook. This chapter walks you through the entire process, then provides "hyper-detailed information" and recipes for each cut of meat. You do not just get a one page recipe, but everything you need to make the best meat you have ever eaten. In case you are wondering if the information provided will really help you when it comes times to cook your own meat, know that if a 12 page recipe on how to smoke a brisket is not going to do it for you, nothing will.
Finally, Serving & Eating. It is in this chapter that you will learn how to carve meat before serving, and get the recipes for a number of barbecue sauces and sides.
If you saw the movie Chef, it is Franklin's place where they stop in Austin. And if you have not seen Chef, do it now, it is on Netflix, and has become one of my all time favorite movies. The soundtrack is on heavy rotation around here.
Mother's Day and Father's Day are coming up, and if you know someone who has ever expressed an interest in smoking, put this book in their hands, and let them know you will bring the beer for the first party.