cover image Franklin Barbecue

Franklin Barbecue

Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay. Ten Speed, $29.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-60774-720-8

In the introduction to this “meat-smoking manifesto,” Franklin, the proprietor of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Tex., writes that barbecue “doesn’t operate with absolutes of temperature, time and measurement.” Indeed, he spends most of the book exploring the general mechanics and intangibles behind creating a delicious brisket. As the opening chapter on his early days points out, one important ingredient for success is the love of a good woman. His wife is beside him in times of poverty and septic disasters. Chapter two provides a comprehensive exploration of smokers and includes instructions on how to build your own, and also how to modify a cheap store-bought smoker. Franklin discusses these contraptions with the geeky joy of an auto mechanic talking engine repair and even dedicates a page to showing off the homemade cookers he currently uses in Texas, each named like a pet. Chapter three covers wood; chapter four covers what happens to the wood when you set it on fire, or, more specifically, how to discern good smoke from bad smoke. When, finally, the brisket recipe is proffered, late in the book, it’s a 13-page affair, complete with step-by-step instructions and photos. As Franklin reminds us, “Brisket is a big, dumb piece of meat.” (Apr.)