Book Review: America's Best Barbecue by Arthur Aguirre

Recipes and Techniques for Prize-Winning Ribs, Wings, Brisket, and More

America's Best Barbecue
America's Best Barbecue. Skyhorse Publishing

Arthur Aguirre's competition barbecue team, Major League Grilling, have made a big name for themselves over the years and now we have the book that lays bare the secrets of his success. While heavily loaded with Arthur and his family's recipes, this is also a collection of recipes from friends, teammates, and even competing teams. Add to this, Arthur's "Mexique" recipes and this is a complete cookbook for the grill and the smoker ranging from competition brisket to Brownie Trifle.

The detail that goes into the techniques is enough to give anyone a step up on the competition barbecue level, many of the recipes are actually quite inspired, and the personal touch really shines through. For the person serious about hardcore barbecue, this is a very good book. While many of the techniques are well known to barbecue competitors, most backyard cooks may find the ideas worth exploring.

On the downside, the first thing that is going to pop out to anyone who thumbs through this book is the pictures. Many were taken with a phone camera and while a few are pretty good, most are not. If you love great food photography, this really isn't a book worth the purchase. Of course, it is for the barbecue that this one is going to sell.

The problem with competition barbecue is that it is a little too much like making sausage. For the average person, it isn't something you want to see being made.

I know that television and the cult of barbecue have made fans of so many, but just think about it rationally for a minute. The competition rib recipe in this book takes three racks of spareribs, rubbed with spices and sugar and smokes them. After 2 to 3 hours they get wrapped. Here these ribs split up 1 cup of squeeze butter, another 1/2 cup of sugar and some Tiger Sauce.

They may be delicious, but not the sort of thing the average person should eat too much of.

Which leads me to another problem. Many of the recipes, particularly the barbecue recipes, call for products, specific sauces, rubs, etc., that are not available in the average grocery store, so unless you live near a barbecue specialty store, there is going to be a lot of online ordering just to reproduce the recipes.

For the serious competition cook, this is a book worthy of the price. It certainly isn't for the health conscious, or, in reality, the occasional backyard cook. Arthur has obviously put a lot of himself in this work, but he lives on the competition trail and writes for that community.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.