Review: Steven Raichlen’s The Brisket Chronicles

I bought Steven Raichlen’s The Brisket Chronicles for one reason: to perfect my brisket smoking technique. I am a huge fan of brisket, and love making it. This book is without a doubt the quintessential book on brisket. And not just for smoking, either. All ways of preparing brisket are covered, from braising to grilling to even boiling.

This book is much more than recipes. It’s about technique, it’s about meat selection and quality. Every aspect of brisket cooking is covered. And covered well, with great photos on the processes that can be hard to detail in just words. Like trimming brisket. Trimming is an important part of the process and getting it wrong is going to make for a less-than-spectacular end result.

Although The Brisket Chronicles covers other things, the real focus and the real star is smoking brisket. All of the recipes from the best brisket joints across America are detailed. Bacon-wrapped, coffee-rubbed, old-school Texas-style, Kansas City-style, you name it, it’s in here. If you’re a brisket lover like I am, it’s enough to make you cry. But wait, it’s not just about US flavors. There are recipes for Asian brisket. And Jamaican jerk brisket.

If you’re into saucing brisket there’s plenty of recipes for sauces. And of course there are lots of rubs and seasonings too. And my favorite, burnt ends. And for the best you go to Tuffy Stone. And yep, the recipe is in the book too!

Side dishes, burgers, sandwiches… you name it. Anything you can make with brisket is in this book. It’s not a one-trick pony by any stretch. You’ll find a myriad of ways of cooking and serving brisket. Including one of my favorite things to make: pastrami.

I cannot say enough about Steven Raichlen’s The Brisket Chronicles. It truly is the only book you’ll ever need on brisket. It’s huge, has tons of photos and techniques and recipes. It’s incredible. I gave it top ratings on my ‘Mater Rater.

Review: Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke

I’m a huge fan of Steven Raichlen. From his various PBS shows (I’ve seen them all) to his many cookbooks (I have them all), I’m intrigued by everything he cooks, from the familiar to the very new. Steven Raichlen’s latest TV series and book, Project Smoke, is as amazing as anything else he’s ever done. The Project Smoke cookbook (it’s really more than ‘just’ a cookbook) is packed with 336 pages of amazing recipes, stories, tips and tricks.

The first part of Project Smoke is great for beginners, describing the equipment and techniques you’ll need no matter what kind of smoking (from cold to hot) that you are going to do. The next section contains appetizers and, as with any Raichlen book, there’s an incredible attention not only to detail but also the history behind dishes and approaches. you’ll know exactly what tools you’ll need and how long each step of the process will take. there’s no guessing here, Raichlen has thought it all out for you.

The photography in the Project Smoke (just like on any of Raichlen’s PBS TV shows) is incredible. The picture of the smoked planked Camembert with jalapeno pepper jelly is worthy of printing and framing, and so are many others. All of the recipes in the book are awesome, and some are completely new to me. For example, smoked bread. I’d never considered smoking flour to make a loaf of bread. After you form the flour into a dough and let it rise, you bake it over charcoal until done, serving with smoked butter or smoked honey. that just may be one of the coolest (no pun intended) smoking ideas I’ve ever seen.

Project Smoke continues with smoking beef, with much detail on smoking briskets including the required pros/cons of wrapping. Raichlen also discusses one of my absolute favorite things to make on my smoker: pastrami. If you haven’t made your own pastrami, you should. It’s amazing

Next up is pork. Even if you’ve smoked 100s of racks of ribs like I have you’ll find Project Smoke informative and full of interesting twists on the ‘usual’ way of doing things or the ‘usual’ ingredients.

Lamb is next, and I have to say, I have never smoked lamb, so i found this section of Project Smoke to be very interesting, though short. Raichlen definitely has convinced me that i need to smoke lamb this year.

Burgers, sausages, poultry and seafood are covered next. Like the previous sections, these are again filled with great recipes, techniques and photos. The smoked shrimp cocktail with chipotle-orange cocktail sauce instantly went to the top of my to-smoke list.

Next up are sides and the like, including smoked slaw. If your guests are tired of your (still very good) mayonnaise- and vinegar-based slaw, smoke the vegetables in an aluminum pan before making the salad. Raichlen’s approach is perfect, and interestingly different.

Project Smoke finishes with desserts and cocktails, both of which are often over-looked in books about smoking. there’s not a lot of different recipes in these sections, but like with everything else in the book, the desserts and cocktails are also fantastic.

Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke rates high on my ‘Mater Rater.

'Mater RaterFor more of my reviews of cookbooks available for the Amazon Kindle readers, visit Kindle Thyme.

Indy Chicken Wings

Steven Raichlen turns out some mighty great food. I love the tv shows he did – he got me interested in grilling and smoking. And I love the many books he has written. One of the biggest, thickest recipe books you can find is Steven’s BBQ USA. It is absolutely chock full of great foods and stories, like these Indy chicken wings. And since I live in Indy, I had to make them. Well that and because they sounded (and are) fantastic.
Indy Chicken WingsWe really enjoyed these Indy chicken wings. The seasoning has a nice garlicky celery flavor. I used our Italian vinaigrette for basting. It has great Italian herb flavor, with a hint of citrus. Note that the vinaigrette does contain oil, so it can cause flair-ups when cooking the wings on the grill.

Also try my very popular Mambo wings!

I absolutely love chicken wings, cooked any way, with any sauce (or without). I love them so much that I created a free eCookbook that is full of my favorite wing recipes.

Indy Chicken Wings

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 4 -8 servings


  • 4 pounds chicken wings flats and drumettes separated, tips discarded or saved for making broth
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon celery seed or celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Homemade Italian vinaigrette or substitute Italian salad dressing


  • Place wings in a large resealable bag or container.
  • Add oil. Seal and toss to coat.
  • Combine the garlic salt, celery seed or celery salt and pepper. Add to container, seal, and toss to coat.
  • Place wings in fridge for at least 2 hours, to overnight.
  • Begin cooking wings as desired. Click here for our guide on cooking wings in a grill, smoker, deep fryer, oven, or a Char-Broil Big Easy. After 15 minutes of cooking begin basting the wings with the Italian vinaigrette. Continue basting every 10 minutes until the wings are done. NOTE: The vinaigrette contains oil, which can cause flair-ups on a grill. Be careful when basting and do not over-baste the wings. If a flair-up does occur move the wings to another part of the grill until the flames die down.
  • Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Ragin’ Cajun Beer Can Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy

I could not be more delighted with this Ragin’ Cajun Beer can chicken that I made on the Char-Broil Big Easy. I’ve made tons (literally) of chicken on my Big Easy, the best poultry cooker around. But for some reason I’ve neglected to try beer can chicken on it. Well, let me tell you, this is flat-out great.

Crazy moist. Even moister than the Big Easy usually does, which is pretty darned moist. And flavor? Incredible. Just incredible. And crunchy skin. A big bonus!

Ragin' Cajun Beer Can Chicken on the Char-Broil Big EasyI picked up a Char-Broil folding chicken roaster to help make this Ragin’ Cajun beer can chicken and am I ever glad I did. It made making beer can chicken an absolute breeze. You simple insert a standard 12 ounce beer can (along with any flavorings you want) into the center of the holder then fold up the ‘arms’. The can is locked into place, which is a great thing if you’ve ever made beer can chicken before. The cans can be flimsy and crush or spill. This holder solves that problem and then some. The chicken then slides down over the holder and beer can. Easy. Very easy.

I used a turkey basket (which has a door for easy access), but the basket that comes with your Big Easy works just fine too. You can see the can sticking out of the bottom of the chicken in the picture above.

For something different, try my beer can cabbage on the Big Easy. It’s different for sure! And on the off chance that you have leftover chicken, beer can chicken jambalaya is a great way to use it up! If you want to skip the beer can but still have that great beer can chicken flavor, try my beer can seasoned chicken. For the real deal, though, also try my Honey Brown beer can chicken!

Love your Big Easy as much I love mine? Check out my Big Easy Add-Ons page and my free Big Easy eCookbook!

Ragin' Cajun Beer Can Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy

You'll want to use a Char-Broil folding roaster to make this even easier. Place inside a Big Easy basket (NOT directly on the bottom of the cooker!) and get to cooking!
Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 4 pound whole chicken trimmed of any hanging skin and fat, giblets etc removed
  • 2 12 ounce cans beer (regular ole great American beer. No funky shaped cans!)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning


  • Rinse the chicken in cold water. Transfer to a resealable bag or container.
  • Whisk together 1 can of beer and the liquid smoke. Add to the container of chicken. Seal and refrigerate for 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes to marinade the chicken.
  • Fire up your Big Easy.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry.
  • Rub the chicken down with a bit of oil, getting in every nook and cranny.
  • Combine the Old Bay and Cajun seasonings.
  • Rub half of the seasonings all over the outside and inside of the chicken.
  • Open the remaining beer and take a few good swigs. Then add the remaining rub to the beer can. Put your finger over the opening and shake a bit to combine.
  • Place the beer can in the holder, if using. Latch it in.
  • Carefully slide the chicken over the beer can.
  • Transfer the chicken to a Char-Broil Big Easy basket and lower into the cooker.
  • Cook until the chicken is done, reading 175 F in multiple places using an instant-read thermometer.
  • Let rest 15 minutes before carving.