Thank You For Smoking Cookbook by Paula Disbrowe

From soup to nuts, this book is the how-to guide to make your meals smokier and better

It’s a well-known fact that pretty much everything, from cocktails to snack foods to entrees to desserts, tastes better with a touch of smoke added, sometimes more than a touch. Imagine your day starting with smoky granola for breakfast, followed by smoked turkey sandwiches for lunch, and then smoked salmon for dinner, accompanied by a dirty martini with smoked olives, and chocolate cake with smoked pears for dessert. It’s easy to plan out days where every dish at every meal is smoked. But the question remains: how to prepare all those smoked dishes? And how do you get the smoke in there in the first place?

Wonder no longer, for in this book you’ll find the answer. Thank You For Smoking, by writer/chef Paula Disbrowe, is the ultimate one-stop how-to guide for smoking, well, everything. It gives you key sources of smoke (including how to use your grill as a smoker); a summary of essential and not-as-essential tools for smoking; a primer on cooking with wood; and much more. And then there are the recipes. If you’re an aspiring mixologist, you can learn how to whip up more than a dozen smoky cocktails and smoky syrups. If you’re a vegetarian, prepare to be wowed by creations like linguine with smoked walnut pesto and yellow tomatoes, or smoky lentil tacos with red cabbage slaw. If baking is your bag, you’ll gravitate towards recipes like the nine-apple pie with smoked peppercorn crust. And of course there’s plenty for the carnivore set to love, from Wild Wings with smoked arbor honey to Cowboy Burgers to Red River Ribs, among so many others.

Paula Disbrowe, who wrote Thank You For Smoking, was a longtime food and travel writer whose work appeared in publications like the New York Times, Food & Wine, and Saveur, before getting into the kitchen as the “Cowgirl Chef” at the famed Hart & Hind Fitness Ranch in Texas. This is her sixth book, and for fans of the smoke, her most essential. It’s a great read that doesn’t talk down to experts and doesn’t get too convoluted for beginners. And whether you like your smoke light and subtle or thick and heavy, there are multiple recipes here that you’ll love. 

It’s published by Penguin Random House imprint Ten Speed Press, formerly two of the world’s great publishing houses, which joined forces in 2013 to become arguably the biggest and most far-reaching publishing house in history. Their holdings encompass the entire range and history of literature, both fiction and non-fiction. Its roster features many of the great writers of decades and centuries past, as well as today’s brightest lights, from popular favorites like Brian Freeman and Faith Hunter to critically acclaimed authors such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jhumpa Lahiri. And their selection of cooking and food books is extraordinary; Thank You For Smoking is just the tip of the iceberg.

Known for creating beautiful illustrated books with innovative design and award-winning content, Ten Speed actively seeks out new and established authors who are authorities and tastemakers in the world of food, drink, pop culture, graphic novels, illustration, design, reference, gardening, and health. Learn more at tenspeedpress.com. For more about Paula Disbrowe and her other books (including Real Cajun and Crescent City Cooking), visit pauladisbrowe.com. 

Togarashi Porterhouse 

Serves 6 to 8 (or 4 steak lovers)

You might think of a porterhouse as the luxurious cousin to the T-bone. Both steaks have the iconic T-shaped bone that imparts flavor and divides the sirloin and tenderlointhe most premium cuts of beef available. But a porterhouse is cut from the rear endof the short loin, so it has a bigger section of luscious tenderloin. The meat is so extraordinary that you don’t want to do too much to it. Here I give it a subtle heat with shichimi togarashi, a peppery Japanese condiment, and a quick turn in a garlic-soy marinade that enhances the beef’s umami.

Keep in mind that the meat along the bone will cook more slowly than the rest of the steak, so a porterhouse can actually hold two different temperatures (say, from rare to medium-rare) when it’s ready to serve. Allowing the meat to rest briefly before slicing helps even out the doneness.

  • 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shichimi togarashi
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane
  • Two 1 1⁄2-inch (4 cm)-thick porterhouse steaks, about 3 1⁄2 pounds (1.6 kg) total

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, oil, togarashi, and garlic. Pour three-quarters of the marinade into a baking dish and reserve the rest. Lay the steaks in the marinade and flip them a few times to generously coat. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.

Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high.

When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, add your smoke source (chips, chunks, or log). Carefully wipe the preheated grill grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again.

When the fire begins to produce a steady stream of smoke, place the steaks over direct heat, close the grill, vent the grill for smoking, and smoke for 2 minutes. Move the steak to indirect heat, close the grill, and smoke for 4 to 5 minutes. When juices appear on the top of the meat, flip the steak and repeat the whole process, starting on direct heat for 2 minutes, then moving to indirect heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until the meat is nicely charred and glossy and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak reads 125°F (52°C), 15 to 20 minutes total; carryover heat will take it to 130°F (55°C) for medium-rare as it rests. Transfer the meat to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, cut the meat off the bone, then cut the sections into thin slices. Serve with the remaining marinade onthe side.

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