Two new books—one from Chef Rodney Scott and one from food historian Adrian Miller—share sage advice, excellent recipes, and explore the history of BBQ.

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plate with ribs, baked beans, and rub
Credit: Jerrelle Guy

Where there's smoke, there's mouthwatering barbecue—at least in the presence of these pros. In two new books, pitmaster Rodney Scott offers hands-on wisdom while food historian Adrian Miller explores the roots of the treasured American culinary tradition.

rodney scott's world of bbq book
Credit: Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Go Inside Rodney Scott's World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day

For South Carolina-raised Rodney Scott, barbecue is a calling. At age 11, he cooked his first hog when his father bartered a deal: Get grilling, and you can go to that basketball game tonight. Now, the king of 'cue has a mini empire. His first restaurant, Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ, opened in Charleston in 2017, and he has an outpost in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as another coming in Atlanta. In Rodney Scott's World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day ($24.99, amazon.com), written with Lolis Eric Elie, he shares life stories and how he learned his craft, plus recipes that go far beyond beef and pork. He'll teach you how to smoke a whole turkey, grill succulent fish (his secret is honey butter), perfectly char a vegetable salad, and then some. "The happiness I get when people are enjoying my food is one of the best feelings I can imagine," he says. Here he shares his sage advice for cooking over charcoal and his must-make recipe for spare ribs.

Rodney's Three Rules for Cooking Over Charcoal

Set the Stage: Safety comes first. Don't get too close to the flames, and wash your hands well after handling raw meat. Next, start with a clean grill: The easiest way is to heat the grates and sweep off ash and debris with a grill brush. To light the fire, Scott suggests wetting pieces of cardboard and crumpled newspaper with a few tablespoons of bacon grease or cooking oil. Stack those in the lower rack of the grill, top with charcoal, and set the paper alight.

Calibrate the heat: Maintaining the right temperature is crucial. Control the airflow with the vents (open them to increase the heat; close them to lower it). Aim for 225 to 250 degrees for large pieces of meat, and between 400 and 450 for speedier items like burgers and veggies. "Take notes on what works," says Scott.

Finish with Flavor: The grill smoke is Scott's primary seasoning, but he often starts with a dry rub and finishes with a vinegar-based sauce, so it seeps into larger pieces of meat. His tool for an even coat is a clean rayon-head floor mop (yes, mop). He dunks one in a bucket of sauce to glaze whole hogs at his restaurants, and grabs one with a smaller head for backyard cooking (though a large basting brush works, too).

Rodney's Ribs Recipe

Scott's pork spare ribs recipe starts with his rib rub and, in addition to the ribs themselves, the other essential element is his sauce.

black smoke by adrian miller

Plus, Pick Up Black Smoke by Adrian Miller

Our food editors have devoured Black Smoke ($30, amazon.com), written by James Beard Award–winning historian Adrian Miller. The tome traces barbecue to its Native American roots, and spotlights the people who have kept the culture alive through perseverance, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

It also shares 22 recipes from those living legends. "I love how Miller teaches you about the Black pitmasters—both men and women—who have carried this tradition for so long," says assistant food editor Riley Wofford. "I'm dedicated to getting a smoker and trying the pork‐belly burnt‐ends recipe."

Reprinted with permission from Rodney Scott's World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day by Rodney Scott and Lois Eric Elie Copyright © 2021 by Rodney Scott's BBQ, LLC, a South Carolina Limited Liability Company, Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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