The Apex of Culinary Skills: The Salt Lick Barbecue
A preview of the legendary Texan barbecue joint's first-ever cookbook, which shares stories of the land, the family behind the food, and the love that brought it to the table
You may have heard the saying that the road to great barbecue is a journey, and this has never been more true than with The Salt Lick. Located in Driftwood, Texas, the restaurant serves more than 600,000 people a year its award-winning barbecue and as you will soon learn, the restaurant is the result of many years of family traditions and recipes passed down from generation to generation.
Later this month, on Nov. 21, The Salt Lick will finally tell its story in its first-ever cookbook The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love. Co-authored by owner Scott Roberts and award-winning journalist Jessica Dupuy, the cookbook is more than just a collection of recipes, as the name hints, and also tells the story behind the restaurant. In detailed and entertaining accounts, the cookbook starts at the beginning, with Roberts’ great-grandparent’s journey to Texas in the 1800s, and narrates how the restaurant's birth in 1967 led to the success story it is today, including ventures into catering and winemaking. As Adam Richman describes in the forward of the book, The Salt Lick is the climax of three distinct things: the talented cooking skills that have been passed down in the family, the great ingredients from the land of Texas, and the family history behind it, and the book covers all three.
As with any cookbook, The Salt Lick’s story is told through a narrative of recipes, which was no small task, as Roberts explains, as some of the recipes date back 100 years. In the book you’ll find recipes of the well-loved dishes found on The Salt Lick menu accompanied by step-by-step guides and vibrant photographs. Along with the restaurant’s dishes, there’s also a collection of closely guarded family recipes that have never been seen before — ranging from Roberts’ Hawaiian mother’s beloved shrimp tempura recipe and specially developed recipes for friends to the sea bass dish served at his daughter’s wedding. With each recipe, there’s a story. Roberts’ account of meeting a young woman when he was a teenager translates into his Lover’s Chicken Breast recipe, the history of the Japanese-Texas rice connection is told alongside his mother’s chicken-fried steak with rice, and the chicken and dumplings recipes of his mother and grandmother are compared side by side to demonstrate the variety of cooking Roberts grew up with.
At the end of the day, though, Roberts believes the true beauty behind The Salt Lick and all of its success is the people. The entire book is dedicated to sharing historic accounts that explain how his great-grandmother’s tried-and-true method of searing and slow cooking barbecue turned into his father’s limestone pit that still cranks out food at the restaurant today. This heartwarming account of The Salt Lick is packaged together with delicious recipes, vibrantly beautiful photographs, and family stories that make it a must-add to your cookbook collection this year.
"Both Roxie and my mother made amazing chicken and dumplings. But my first experience with the dish was from my mom’s recipe, which had really fluffy dumplings. Roxie’s dumplings were more flat and dense. They were..."
— Scott Roberts
"Though pork ribs are more often associated with barbecue, beef ribs are a quintessential part of the Texas barbecue family. Quite a bit larger than pork spare ribs, beef ribs are sold as one per order..."
— Scott Roberts
"In the spring of 2002, Jay Knepp and I planted our first vineyard. We planted sangiovese and tempranillo in soil that according to analysis was better that 99 percent of the soil in California for growing grapes. Neither of us had any..."
— Scott Roberts
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter at @anniecdolce
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