Book Review: Fire and Smoke: A Pitmaster’s Secrets

smoke and fire 4 and half stars

Typically the books I review are about Christian theology, however this summer I am reviewing a few cookbooks also.  I am an avid griller; in particular I enjoy smoking meat or other foods.  So when I saw Chris Lilly’s new book, Fire and Smoke: A Pitmaster’s Secrets I jumped at the chance to review it! I was not disappointed.

The book has eleven different categories of foods for grilling that range from grilled cocktails to grilled pizza to various meats and even a section that gives recipes using leftovers from your BBQ. (Who has leftovers when they BBQ!?)

If you are new to grilling and smoking don’t be intimidated. Chris begins the book by discussing the various types of grills and smokers available for private use, mentioning the pro’s and con’s of each.  He also talks a bit about working with wood as a smoke and heat source, giving some general guidelines.

What was good about this book:

    • Great recipes. I made several the first week after receiving the book, including: Cowboy Ribeye with coffee dry rub, Seasoned mustard drumsticks with peach molasses glaze, Sweet and Spicy Smoked pickles, smoked ratatouille, and smoked artichokes with spicy mayonnaise. They were excellent, though I would suggest adding sriracha to the ratatouille.
    • Dry rub and sauce recipes. He has many a whole section devoted to this. I used several and they were all very good.
    • Nice layout and photographs.

What was not so great about this book:

    • Serving information. For example, when I made the smoked ratatouille the serving information said “serves 10-12 people.” This might be true as an appetizer, but not as a main. I fed four adults and two kids with recipe and had just enough leftovers for two people in the end.
    • Some of the instructions in the book seem to be personal preference rather than essential to the recipe. Fro example: The smoked artichokes recipe says that I should allow the artichokes to chill overnight after steaming them, prior to reheating/smoking them. I did not do this and it made no drastic difference.

Bottom line:

I really enjoyed this cookbook, and plan on keeping it around this summer as I grill. It was informative, well laid out, and full of great recipes that I will make again in the future. If you are considering buying a fun summer cookbook, or want to try your hand at grilling, this is a good place to begin.

Here is a picture of the smoked ratatouille that I made.

Smoked Ratatouille

About the Author:

CHRIS LILLY is vice president, executive chef, and partner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. The Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team has won ten World BBQ Championships, six world titles at “Memphis in May,” and the American Royal International Cook-off and BBQ Sauce Competition. Lilly is married to the great-granddaughter of BBQ legend Big Bob Gibson and is the author of Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book.

Publisher’s Synopsis:

World champion pitmaster Chris Lilly combines the speed of grilling with the smoky flavors of low-and-slow barbecue for great meals any night of the week, no fancy equipment required. Cook trout in a cast-iron skillet nestled right in smoldering coals for a crispy yet tender and flaky finish. Roast chicken halves in a pan on a hot grill, charring the skin while capturing every bit of delicious juice. Infuse delicious smoke flavors into fruits and vegetables, even cocktails and desserts. Fire and Smoke gives you 100 great reasons to fire up your grill or smoker tonight.

If you want to buy the book Fire and Smoke: A Pitmaster’s Secrets, click here.


I received this book for free from the publisher’s Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.


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