Title: Cheater BBQ
Author: Mindy Merrell and R. B. Quinn
214 pages; Soft cover Photography none
Publisher: Broadway Books, NY, NY 2008
Reviewed by, Chef John V. Fall 2008

The review---

The great French chef August Escoffier would roll over in his grave after reading this book, after all it doesn't follow the techniques of fine cooking that he established. On the other hand he would like to eat some of the food because it tastes good! Hey, why not if it tastes good? As a professional chef, I sometimes get tired of cooking every day, but being a fussy eater and a staunch supporter of homemade foodI would never cheat! Well, it was some fun testing these recipes!

The secret to Cheater BBQ and its recipes lies in Chapter #2. Here the authors Mindy Merrell and R. B. Quinn make their dry rubs and sauces that are used in the book recipes. This control point makes most of the recipes work. Pay attention and follow the recipes and you will have fun and save time too. The book has 216 pages and about 125 recipes, no pictures to speak of but good directions and a little humor thrown in for good tasteCheesy Alligator Snouts, this is for real but not for me! We tried the really easy to prepare Hobo Chuck with 3 ingredients and 4-6 hours of cooking. It was tender, shredded easily and tasted good. The Cuban Black Beans were easy to make but didn't have the satisfying flavor of the what you might have in Miami in the many Cuban restaurants. The winner in our testing and tasting roundup was the BBQ Garlic Shrimp! It was easy to prepare and when finished it had an appealing look and oh, the aroma!!! More please!

Summer might be over for this year but who says you will stop barbecuing? This book will make a fun edition to any collection of recipes and if your are really brave try the recipe for Raccoon Ribs on page 63.

Recipes tested---

Hobo Chuck

There's nothing wrong with pot roast, but the beef chuck shoulder roast needs a break from the potatoes and carrots and soupy broth treatment. Beef chuck makes excellent barbecue, full of rich beefy flavor. Like brisket, its connective tissue requires slow barbecue-style cooking. Chuck isn't as long and stringy as brisket, but it can pretty much do anything a brisket can do and in less time. Also, a good chuck roast on special is an easier find than a brisket with a good fat cap. It's about choices and good substitutes, and a chuck roast is one of them.

Makes 8 to 10 Servings
One 3- to 4-pound boneless chuck shoulder roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into big chunks
3 tablespoons Cheater Basic Dry Rub (page 45)
1/4 cup bottled smoke

Put the roast in a medium to large slow cooker (at least 4 quarts).
Spread the dry rub over the meat. Add the bottled smoke.
Cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours, until the meat shreds easily.
Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred or chop.

BBQ Garlic Shrimp

New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp, called "barbecue" even though they have nothing to do with smoke or a grill, are usually prepared in the oven. We do ours in a big hot pot on the stove because this dish is all about the buttery, garlicky sauce. Mass quantities of crusty French bread are required for sopping.

We plunk the big pot in the middle of the table and go to town. It's an exceptionally good time tearing into long baguettes and washing everything down with plenty of cold white wine. Sometimes, we remember the salad.

Makes 6 Servings
1/a cup bottled smoke
1/a cup kosher salt
2 pounds large shrimp (16 to 20 count), peeled and deveined
For the BBQ Garlic Sauce
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
1/a cup olive oil
1/a cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce 6 garlic cloves, minced
Black pepper to taste

Combine 1 quart of cold water, the bottled smoke, and salt in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve the salt.
Add the shrimp to the bowl, cover, and chill for about 30 minutes. Drain, pat the shrimp dry, and discard the brine.
While brining the shrimp, Combine all the ingredients for the BBQ Garlic Sauce in a small bowl.

Toss the sauce with the brined shrimp. To make ahead, cover and refrigerate, then cook the shrimp just before serving.
To cook the shrimp, Heat a large cast-iron skillet or enamel-coated cast-iron pot over high heat until piping hot. Carefully place the shrimp in the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until pink and opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes depending upon the size of the shrimp. Avoid overcooking the shrimp because they will turn rubbery in a hurry.

Cuban Black Beans

Barbecue gets along with any bean cooked with a little onion and garlic, including black beans. Cuban Black Beans with a touch of sherry are especially well suited for Cuban Fingers (page 176) with Ultimate Cheater Pork Loin page 80). Serve the beans over rice or add some water or broth and turn them into a soup dressed with fresh parsley, chopped onion, chopped hard cooked egg, and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

makes 8 servings
1 pound dried black beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup chopped celery, with leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry sherry
Kosher salt

Rinse and soak the beans according to the package directions.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Drain the beans and combine them with the vegetables and 6 cups of water in a medium or large slow cooker (at least 4 quarts). Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours, until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally, and add water as necessary. Stir in the sherry and season with salt to taste.