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Great read and very entertaining, especially if you happen to have half of a pig in the fridge and ready to barbecue. But even if you don't this book is pleasant to read and gives one some ideas. If anything, it makes you loose your fear of "going large" and tackle a grand feast. Nice pictures, but equally good reading. I enjoyed this book and I'd say if you're a moderate Jamie Oliver lover with a touch DIY-instinct, you will like this book too.
Excellent book for when you want to throw a party for a crowd. There are not only recipes in it, but those recipes are divided over 9 different "chapters" in which you really find from A to Z how to work this out : a timeline with a "when to do what", a grocery list, the recipes and for the more unusual cooking contraptions, there's even a DIY-chapter in which is explained how to make a cooking shed, a steaming barrel or a caja china. Can't wait till summertime is back for trying all of these things out!
I am a self proclaimed mountain man. I like meat with every meal and i like to cook my meat over Kingsford charcoal briquettes. I have bought a few cook books in the past, but they are largely under utilized and collecting dust. This cook book turned out to be the exception.
I like how Ben Ford explains in detail how to cook large quantities of meat at a time (whole pig, whole lamb, many briskets), how to build the proper structure to cook them in, and then gives a smaller (tamed) version of each main course that feeds 8-10.
So far i have made the string bean potato salad and the dry rub. Both turned out to be crowd favorites. I plan on cooking the semi boneless leg of lamb and a few of the accompanying sides for an upcoming house warming party and am expecting similar results.
This cook book with be in rotation for years to come and i have already purchased it for two other buddies that are also into cooking over fire.
**update** I have cooked many main and side dishes within the book and all have turned out well. However, I find that there a somewhat of a disconnect between the author and its general audience. Many of the ingredients are very difficult to find (e.g. lemon mosto, green garlic, etc), and no alternatives are suggested. This leaves readers visiting multiple stores in search of rare products.
I still strongly recommend this cookbook, but have deducted one star from my original review.
A clever and daring first book. Instead of playing it safe like most first time cookbook authors, Ben Ford challenges what both a party and a cookbook can be. A perfect book if you want to attempt large scale entertaining. If you have some friends that will help you build a roasting shed you are half way to a great party. This will be my go to book for Summer parties.The information about each feast is insightful and fun to read, the recipes are well written, easy to understand and don't miss any information and the photos and diagrams will make all of the menus approachable for any adventurous home cook.
Ever want to have an event and not just a get together? This book will walk you through preparing a feast for as few as 8 or as many as 60. Each menu starts with DIY instructions for building your own outdoor cooking equipment, a time line that includes every step to prepare the party and menus that contain both modern flavors and familiar classic tastes.Each menu includes a large scale and small scale party. So if you don't feel like inviting forty people over for dinner the menus are also scaled back to serve 8 to 10. The sides yield about 8 servings and so far I have been able to scale them back to 4 servings for weeknight dinners. The drinks recipes have all been fantastic. Each menu also includes what to do with the leftovers, something I wish more cookbooks would include.
I prepared the Rib Roast from the Sunday roast section for Christmas dinner, the horseradish sauce was the best I have ever made and every one at dinner said it was better than any prime rib they had in a restaurant. The menus include a whole pig roast, a burgers and brats party, planked wild sturgeon, box roasted spring lamb, wood fired paella, Hill Country ( Texas)) barbeque, a Southland Barrel Clambake, Lakehouse fish fry and Sunday roast.
The DIY projects include instructions for building your own roasting shed, a cinder block pit, a roasting box and a clambake barrel.
This is a wonderfully simple and simply beautiful book about a complicated subject: cooking outdoors for a crowd.
This will limit the book's appeal, since not everyone enjoys getting their hands dirty, managing a hot fire, building their own cooking equipment, and turning out food for 50-100 people. Sensibly each chapter or feast includes a section about scaling things down and cooking for a small crowd (as well as recipes for things to do with the leftovers), so anyone who loves outdoor cooking will appreciate the wealth of suggestions here.
The recipes are varied and interesting, but the best part of the book is the wealth of techniques it illustrates: sandwiching a whole pig between two stainless steel racks and hanging it vertically in front of a fire, cooking on a grill, cooking sides of fish on a cedar plank over a cinder block pit, roasting whole lamb in a hot box or "cajun microwave," cooking paella in a pan on the coals, Texas barbecue in an offset smoker, a clambake in a hinged wine barrel (pure genius!), or a fish fry in a massive cauldron. The only thing I can think of that's missing is an outdoor wood-fired oven.
And in the final chapter, he shows you how you can make most of this cooking equipment yourself. I just wish there had been more about setting up for such feasts: what does he use for prep areas, for tables and benches, how does he set the table and serve the food, etc. Hopefully this won't be his last book!
The format of this book shows you how to plan and execute a major feast for a ton of people. We're talking 20 - 100 people and maybe even more. Then he takes that feast and steps it down for a smaller version that you can make with a smaller group. However, you'll probably not find much in here for a husband and wife who are cooking for themselves on a Tuesday night. That's just not what this book is about. If you're a clever chef you could probably adapt the recipes for super small versions but it might take some work.
The other part of this book is the adventure cooking aspect which is what drew me to it. Have you ever wanted to cook a whole hog that will feed 100+ people? How about a whole lamb that will feed 50? Or build a fire in your backyard and cook paella for 60? The book contains instructions on how to build your fire, how to build your cooking box, how to work with your charcoal, etc. (He also suggests a premade pig roaster for those of us who don't want to make it ourselves. That's what I bought for my husband.)
We entertain a lot so this is something we can actually try to recreate at home. We actually throw an annual party that I think would be amazing to create a new tradition of adventure cooking for all our friends and family.