Cookbook Review: 12 Bones Smokehouse by Bryan King, Angela King, Shane Heavner, Mackensy Lunsford

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am a cook and a baker, but I've never grilled or smoked before (and I'm certainly not counting my little cast-iron grill pan). There's something about it that's always intimidated me. That said, this book made me want to grill, and it especially made me want to get my own smoker asap. I had never heard of 12 Bones Smokehouse prior to getting the ARC for this cookbook, but their food certainly looks heavenly. Their claim to fame is their ribs, which President Obama was apparently a huge fan of. Well, if they're good enough for Barack, they're good enough for me.

Right off the bat, they give you the recipe for their famous ribs, both "nekkid" (no sauce) and with recipes for all their intriguing and offbeat barbecue sauces. Everything from the "tomato Q" to their famous blueberry chipotle to the spicy pineapple habanero are in these pages, among other recipes. Seriously, there has to be at least 15 different recipes just for barbecue sauce within these pages. They also teach you how to barbecue your way to glory with cuts of meat as diverse as bison ribs, pork cheeks, and your Thanksgiving turkey.

While I didn't try any of the recipes, they certainly sound amazing and in line with all the flavors I love. You'll find a lot of barbecue joint standards with a more modern, gourmet twist, such as a wedge salad with a smoky chipotle ranch and a mound of fried onions on top (drool), and a smoked gouda drop biscuits (also something I need to try immediately). Besides the main meat attraction, there's also lots of side dishes and even a number of exciting desserts, such as tres leches strawberry shortcake and peanut butter-banana upside down cake. Seriously, I am so excited about these recipes.

Even if you don't have a smoker or a grill like I do, there are plenty of things you can do with these recipes. I personally can't wait to make the blueberry chipotle barbecue sauce for baked barbecue chicken and ribs. It won't be the same as a trip to Asheville for the real deal, but until I can make a trip to Asheville, it'll have to suffice.

Oh yes, as a cookbook, this is hugely successful. The recipes are smartly laid out with little stories and spotlights on various ingredients/dishes. The design is stylish and elegant. There is a lot of text and honestly, I could have done with less bragging. I love reading the little blurbs preceding recipes, but here they got a little old after a while, as the only purpose they served was to talk up their restaurant. At times, I felt like the cookbook felt too much like an advertisement for their restaurant. Do we really need to read a long paragraph about a customer waxing poetic about their love for 12 Bones? This happens not once but multiple times throughout the book.

Overall, this is a really solid barbecue book, and if you're going to own any book about barbecue, this is a fine one to get, even if, like me, you've never even heard of this restaurant.

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

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