I was recently sent a copy of the newly released The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family and Love. I’m going to dive into detail, but let me start out by saying that this book is simply amazing. Though the book is packed full of tasty recipes from one of Texas’s most famous BBQ establishments, the Salt Lick, it really isn’t meant to be just a standard BBQ recipe book. It has more of a Southern cooking flair that’s packed full of recipes that span four generations of Scott Roberts’ family. The majority of the book is devoted to (as the title suggests) the story of the Roberts family and the land the Salt Lick was founded on.
I actually didn’t know about the Salt Lick until I first saw it featured on one of my favorite T.V. shows, Man vs. Food. Since that episode, my mouth occasionally begins to water when I think about the famous Salt Lick open pit that owner Scott Roberts graciously revealed to Adam Richman and his viewers. Roberts and Richman must have hit it off because the first thing I noticed when I cracked the book open was the foreword written by Richman, who in turn does a great job of setting up the reader for what I feel is one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever read.
You’ll notice on the cover that there are two authors: Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy. Dupuy spent over a year driving out to the Salt Lick and took Roberts’ amazing story and pieced it together into the pages of the book. The two authors obviously clicked and worked well together because I honestly felt like I was a part of the family and part of the story by the time I was done reading the book. And further…I debated on whether or not I should admit this, but I even got choked up a couple times and shed a few tears. That is how rich and transparent the Roberts family story is and how well Dupuy translated it onto paper.
The first 177 pages of the book are solely devoted to the history of the Roberts family, dating all the way back to 1847 with the birth of Scott Roberts’ great grandfather, James A. Howard. From there, the story is rich in history on how generations of the Roberts family settled the land the present day Salt Lick is located at. As you move through the story, you’ll quickly notice how this book doesn’t read like a normal cookbook. Almost every single recipe has a brief story behind it and as I mentioned above, I felt like I was there sitting at the dinner table with them. Much of those first 177 pages are devoted to recipes Roberts grew up on, primarily staple recipes from his grandmother Roxie and mother Hisako. There are even recipes from neighbors and friends that all have a bit of history attached them. I couldn’t stop reading, it really is that great of a book.
Once you hit page 178, if you aren’t already salivating all over the place from the previous recipes, the reader is finally introduced to present day Salt Lick BBQ recipes, including their famous brisket, sausage and ribs. The brisket section alone is 14 pages of step by step instructions on how they prepare and cook their highly sought after Texas brisket. I was floored by the detail Roberts and his pit masters divulged. Speaking of pit masters, the book even covers the history behind the Gonzales family that has been running the open pit for 40 years now. Salt Lick main dishes, side dishes and desserts are all included, some (like their pecan pie) with even step by step photos. I’ll say it again…this book is amazing.
The book begins to wrap up story’s of Roberts’ wife Susan and daughter Maile; Salt Lick’s mail-order service; the Salt Lick Cellars wine business; and Salt Lick’s catering business. It’s really cool to see how far the business has grown over the years and how Roberts and his family continue to use the surrounding land they founded the Salt Lick on to its fullest potential.
Finally, since I personally have a love for photography (hopefully some of that comes out in the pics I take here on my blog), as I flipped through the book it became instantly clear to me that Kenny Braun’s photography alone is worth the price of the book. I noticed where one reviewer on another blog mentioned this book could be considered a coffee table book because of the quality of the photography. I couldn’t agree more. Kudos to Braun for some of the best photography I’ve ever seen in a cookbook.
The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family and Love is now available on Amazon and can be purchased here.