Peace, Love, and Barbecue

Book Review by Norene Gilletz

Peace, Love, and Barbecue – A Unique Combination of Cookbook, Memoir and Travelogue

Peace, Love and Barbecue contains a unique collection of recipes, photographs, and behind-the-scenes stories from legendary pitmaster Mike Mills, the unrivalled king of barbecue. Mills shares his passion for America’s favorite cuisine – its intense smoky flavors, its lore and traditions, and its wild cast of characters.


Through conversational anecdotes and black-and-white photographs, readers meet a diverse circle of colleagues and friends and join Mills in a behind-the-scenes tour of the barbecue contest circuit, with stops at some of the best “shrines, shacks, joints, and right-respectable restaurants.”

Also included are prizewinning recipes that have earned Mills his fame and fortune as a barbecue maestro. These 100 recipes will enable anyone with a grill to achieve champion barbecue flavor right in their own backyard. The selection features Mills’ own secret concoctions and treasured family recipes as well as choice contributions from his pitmaster friends, and it covers all manner of barbecued meat and fish, sauces and dry rubs, as well as the sides, soups, and down-home sweets that complete any great barbecue feast.

With its folksy, fun-loving tone and its unique insider’s take on a hugely popular–and deeply American–subject, this volume will appeal to barbecue lovers, food mavens, and cooks of all stripes.

Here is a small sampling of some of Mills’ best barbecue secrets, along with a scrumptious recipe for sweet and spicy chicken wings, a terrific barbecue sauce and a fabulous fruit cobbler. Enjoy!

Some of Mike Mills’ Secrets for Moist and Delicious Chicken and Turkey

* If I’m cooking a whole chicken, I cook it on its back. When I’m cooking a split chicken, which I prefer, I cook it bone side down. The bone acts as a shield and helps cook the chicken faster and more evenly.

* Don’t keep turning the chicken; you’ll dry it out.

* I like to eat the skin, so I put extra salt on it; that helps draw the fat out of the skin and crisps it up.

* Baste when the skin looks dry throughout the cooking process, every 30 minutes or so.

* When you’re cooking a whole bird, the cavity will fill up with juices. Remove the bird from the pit very carefully so the hot juices don’t spill on you. Put on heavy rubber gloves and carefully lift the bird out onto a sheet pan to capture the juices. Pour the stock into a container and keep it in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze it for future use. Use it for soups, chicken and dumplings, and to moisten dressing (stuffing).

Super Smokers Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings

These chicken wings are one of the most popular appetizers at Super Smokers BBQ. The sweetness comes from honey, and the kick comes from using the hottest, spiciest barbecue sauce your taste buds can take.

You’ll need apple wood chips and a disposable foil pan.

2½ tablespoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
5 pounds chicken wings, rinsed and dried
1 cup honey
½ cup hot barbecue sauce (or more to taste; use your favorite, the hottest sauce you can stand)
3 tablespoons apple juice

Make a dry rub by sifting the pepper, onion powder, chili powder, garlic powder, and seasoned salt into a bowl to blend.

Place the chicken wings in a large zippered plastic bag. Pour in the dry rub and shake to coat the wings well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes (at room temperature) or as long as 24 hours (in the refrigerator).

Prepare coals using 3 pounds of charcoal. Make sure the coals are in a pile to one side of your grill or smoker. After the coals have turned white, place 2 cups of soaked and drained apple wood chips on the pile of coals. Set the wings on the grate so they will cook by indirect heat – in other words, not over the coals – and smoke for 25 minutes. Turn the wings and smoke for another 20 to 25 minutes.

Mix the honey, barbecue sauce, and apple juice together in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until warmed through.

Place the wings in a disposable foil pan and pour the warm sauce over the wings. Toss to coat evenly. Cover and smoke for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the glaze is finished the way you like it. If you’re using a grill, you can move the aluminum pan directly over the coals while you’re glazing the wings.

Serves a crowd.

Gates Family Kansas City Barbecue Sauce

Ollie Gates’s lip-smacking sauce recipe has been requested so often that he has it written down. Its popularity reaches far beyond Kansas City.

1 cup sugar
¼ cup kosher salt, finely ground
2 tablespoons celery seed
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons cayenne
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 quarts ketchup
1 cups apple cider vinegar
1½ teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix the sugar, salt, celery seed, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder and chili powder together in a small bowl. Combine the ketchup, vinegar, liquid smoke and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix until very well blended.

Sauce may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks or in the freezer up to 6 months.

Makes about 3 quarts.

Blue Smoke Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

Most barbecue restaurants don’t have an official pastry chef, but Blue Smoke has the talented Jen Giblin. I spent a lot of time in her area of the kitchen during my extended stay in New York. She needed my help to taste-test just about everything she made. Believe me, I was happy to oblige. Try this fresh and fruity cobbler at the height of strawberry season.

Biscuit Topping
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, finely ground
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1½ cups heavy cream, plus additional for brushing

Fruit Mixture
1 pound strawberries, sliced
1 pound rhubarb, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
½ vanilla bean
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For serving
Vanilla or buttermilk ice cream

Make the biscuit topping: Mix together the flour, brown sugar, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, ginger, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add about 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and mix until it forms a dough (you might not need all the cream). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Make the fruit mixture: Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean in a large bowl. Let stand for 1 hour. Remove the vanilla bean and pour off half of the liquid, then stir in the cornstarch and vanilla extract. Pour the fruit into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface to ¼ inch thick and cut into circles or any desired shape. Place the dough on the fruit mixture without overlapping any pieces. Brush the top of the dough with heavy cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake the cobbler for about 25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling in the center.

Serve warm with ice cream.

Serves 6 to 8

Copyright © 2005 Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe.

Peace, Love and Barbecue
by Mike Mills

$19.95 US/$28.95 CDN

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About the Authors

MIKE MILLS is the only person to win three Grand World Champion titles at the Memphis in May International Barbecue Festival. He is also barbecue guru and partner at Danny Meyer’s Blue Smoke restaurant in New York City and owner of six notable barbecue joints, two in Southern Illinois and four in Las Vegas.

AMY MILLS TUNNICLIFFE is a journalist and publicist. She also conducts training seminars and is a sought-after public speaker. She lives near Boston.