Steven Raichlen

BBQ Advertorial

This was an advertorial feature I wrote for Rogers last summer. The idea was to position it as a lifestyle piece, while focusing on the smartphone and tablet technology we can use to make barbecuing easier and more enjoyable.

I’ve included the original layout, as well as the complete article in plain text below…

Eat like a man

I’m the wrong person to review this book. Stephen Raichlen writes for guys. Best known for his Barbecue! Bible (including the exclamation mark), his purpose is teaching men to execute kitchen tasks with ‘aplomb and showmanship - bringing you respect’. The next 600 pages go into considerable detail to explain how to cook up dishes that will achieve this aim.

As you would expect with a man-centered book, meat is at the heart of this volume. It reminds me of an article I read about a couple who went to live in Virginia. The husband found, to his surprise, that he was invited to men-only dinners, where he was served just two things: a 20 oz steak and unlimited bourbon to drink. No potatoes, no vegetables. Just the meat.

The meat section is the most appealing part of this book. 'Finger burner lamb chops’ and 'barbecue-rubbed ribs’ are in the realm of the possible, whereas 'steak on a pitchfork’, as practised in North Dakota, seems a bit less accessible.

The friends he admires - 'food dudes’ - talk about cooking whole baby lambs or pigs. They offer their tips for seduction dishes and just one, Michael Pollan, rails against serving too much meat. He suggests reversing the 8oz/4oz ratio of meat to vegetables and maintains that 4oz of animal protein is enough for a serving.

You could argue that there is something here for everyone. Raichlen’s knowledge extends to bread and pizza, sweets like Candied Bacon Sundaes and Butterscotch pudding with miso. Salads have to be hefty: a 'killer’ potato salad, gaucho bean salad, a mango coleslaw overpowered with sugar, chilis, lime juice and fish sauce. In Raichlen’s world flavour means punch. 'Fire-eater chicken wings’ should be spicy enough to sear your tongue to the roof of your mouth. He even adulterates garlic and lemony hummous with Asian flavours that drown out the perfection of the original dish. His 'dark and stormy’ barbecue sauce includes 'liquid smoke’. Not for him cheeses that are 'mild’ or cupcakes that are 'not really guy food’.

Guys need to know about shucking oysters, steaming crabs and the whole theatre of serving up a lobster. Raichlen loves unorthodox methods: blowtorching salmon fillets, frying a turkey (but he warns against trying this when you’ve been drinking).

If he really wants to teach guys how to cook (and produce seductive food) perhaps he should have devoted a chapter to how to appeal to the women in their lives? He admits that 'even the most confirmed carnivore craves a salad every once in a while’, but the section on vegetables - with a nod to 'Meatless Mondays’ - focuses more on chillies, mushrooms and baked beans, rather than the green things most women adore.

If I’ve been hard on Raichlen, this is because we approach food from a totally different perspective. For me I want the savour of fish or poultry to stand out, enhanced by herbs and enriched with fried onions or roasted vegetables. I believe a novice cook can produce the most succulent roast chicken which tastes deeply of chicken, without drowning it in five overpowering flavours: lemon, garlic, fresh herbs, dried herbes de Provence and mustard. But for those of you who love your food served with a kick and a flourish, this is the tome for you.