I ended up testing the recipes from Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook, by Tom Adams, Simon Anderson, Jaime Berger and Richard H. Turner, over the Fourth of July weekend. Though the food was perfect for an Independence Day cookout, there was conspicuous irony in cooking Southern-style barbecue expropriated by the British crew of a hot London restaurant. As my husband quipped, "Let's just say, it's complicated."
That turned out to be a fairly apt summation of the book as whole. Most of the recipes require patience, commitment, skills, ingredients, and/or equipment that aren't necessarily self-evident. Many have at least one sub-recipe, requiring rub(s), sauce(s), or both. And most of the meat recipes—the real crux of the book—take hours and hours of slow, smoky, partially tended cooking. The book offers an in-depth, informative, and actually enlightening look at the history and technique of barbecue, and preaches the importance of sourcing the best meat and taking the time to care for that meat in the most reverential (read: delicious) way possible. The devotion the Pitt Cue team puts into their food—and expect from the reader—largely pays off, resulting in the best dang barbecue that's ever come off my grill. Sorry Uncle Sam, the Brits just may have won this one.
Tom Adams and Jaime Berger started Pitt Cue in a trailer on London's South Bank in 2011. It rapidly garnered an avid following and praise from the press, and in January of 2012, Adams and Berger partnered with restaurant-vets Anderson and Turner to open a bricks-and-mortar restaurant in Soho. Lines promptly formed around the block. The British cookbook was published in 2013 (with a flattering intro by Chef April Bloomfield, so you know it's legit), and the Americanized book was just released here in early June. So, basically, these guys don't mess around.
Before opening Pitt Cue Co., the four partners did take the time to travel hungrily through the South to learn all they could about the roots and realities of Southern-style barbecue. Then they took what they wanted and ran with it, creating an Anglicized version with things like Burnt Ends Mash and Mutton Shoulder with Anchovy Hollandaise. The book is divided into five chapters that echo the menu of the restaurant—Drinks, Snacks, Meats, Slaws & Sides, and Sweet Stuff. Once I got past the intimidation factor, I really enjoyed cooking this book, and frankly, I'm looking forward to drinking this book and baking this book, too. The mostly bourbon-based cocktails and "slutty" (I think it may mean something else in the Queen's English?) desserts look phenomenal.
This week, we're going to pickle and deep fry mushrooms for their Crispy Pickled Shiitakes. Then, fire up the grill (to their detailed specifications) and throw on some dry-rubbed Beef Ribs and the most incredible Whole Spicy Smoked Roast Chicken. And for dessert—or may as well be—how about a healthy helping of Hog Mac 'N' Cheese, with a hefty dose of pork both inside and on top? It may not be the 4th anymore, but be sure to invite some friends over and celebrate something when you cook this spread. Cheerio, y'all!
Thanks to our friends at Octopus Books, we're giving away 5 copies of Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook this week. Just tell us your favorite foods to throw on the grill this summer in the comments below.