Smoke & Spice

There’s something seductively elemental about cooking directly with a wood fire. Bill and Cheryl Jamison addressed this subject elegantly in their James Beard Award winning cookbook, Smoke & Spice, published  20 years ago. When they began writing this book on the truly American art of smoking and barbecuing over 25 years ago their publisher balked at the subject for being too specialized. To date more than a million copies have been sold. So much for not wide enough interest.

Cheryl and Bill Jamison, courtesy Harvard Common Press

Cheryl and Bill Jamison, photo/courtesy The Harvard Common Press

The revised and updated 20th anniversary edition of this classic is hot off the presses. This book will delight newcomers and old timers alike with its lush photographs and recipes for standards like brisket, ribs and pulled pork, mouthwatering fish and poultry, as well as rubs, sauces and sides. For the neophyte there’s good information on types of smokers, and the best woods to use for smoking. For the more experienced barbecuers there are tons of great ideas, too. If you love cooking on the smoker and haven’t come across this book yet you owe it to yourself to get a copy.

Smoke & Spice, courtesy Harvard Common Press

The Jamisons have been kind enough to share their recipe for Braggin’ Rights Brisket from the new cook book. Fire up the smoker and get ready for some good food!

Braggin' Rights Brisket, photo Gabriella Marks, courtesy  Harvard Common Press

Braggin’ Rights Brisket, photo/Gabriella Marks, courtesy The Harvard Common Press

Braggin’ Rights Brisket

Smoke & Spice

 Recipe © 2014 by Bill & Cheryl Jamison and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press

The medieval alchemists, who sought to turn base metals into gold, should have tried barbecuing a brisket on a wood-burning pit. The transformation of the meat is on the same magnitude of magic—and much more successful. If you’re cooking on a charcoal or electric smoker, skip to the recipe for Dallas Dandy Brisket. SERVES 12 TO 18


    • 3⁄ 4 cup paprika
    • 1 ⁄ 4 cup freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 ⁄ 4 cup kosher salt or coarse sea salt
    • 1 ⁄ 4 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
    • 2 tablespoons onion powder
    • 2 teaspoons cayenne
    • 8-pound to 12-pound packer-trimmed beef brisket
      • 12 ounces beer
      • 1 ⁄ 2 cup cider vinegar
      • 1 ⁄ 2 cup water
      • 1 ⁄ 4 cup vegetable oil
      • 1 ⁄ 2 medium onion, chopped or sliced in thin rings
      • 2 garlic cloves, minced
      • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. The night before you plan to barbecue, combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Apply the rub evenly to the brisket, massaging it into every little pore, reserving 1 tablespoon of the rub. Place the brisket in a plastic bag and refrigerate it overnight.
  2. Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.
  3. Prepare the smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200°F to 220°F.
  4. In a saucepan, mix the mop ingredients with the reserved 1 tablespoon rub and warm over low heat.
  5. Transfer the brisket to the coolest part of the smoker, fat side up, so the juices will help baste the meat. Cook the brisket until well-done and tender, 1 to 11⁄4 hours per pound. Every hour or so, baste the blackening hunk with the mop.
  6. When the meat is cooked, remove it from the smoker and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Then cut the fatty top section away from the leaner bottom portion. An easily identifiable layer of fat separates the two areas. Trim the excess fat from both pieces and slice them thinly against the grain. Watch what you’re doing because the grain changes direction. Sauce is considered very optional on brisket’s home turf. If you wish, serve your favorite tomato-based barbecue sauce on the side.

You can order your copy here:

 Read more about the Jamisons

Santa Fe Travelers received a review copy of Smoke & Spice. The publisher’s generosity did not affect this post in any way,

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