Filets with Tim Byres’ BBQ Beef Coffee Cure (Photo by Gary Jacobson)

My friend, Martha Gooding, says if you get one good recipe out of a cookbook, the book is worth the price.

By that measure, Tim Byres’ new cookbook, Smoke, is a tremendous bargain.

I got two great recipes, and if you stay to the end of this post you’ll get one of them: Byres’ BBQ Beef Coffee Cure. So far I’ve used it twice, on New York strip steaks and filets. It’s wonderful. Hope to try it soon on brisket.

The other great recipe is for homemade sour cream. What an unexpected treat!

So, why am I also down on this new offering from the celebrated chef at Dallas’ Smoke restaurant?

It wasn’t written for cooks like me. It was written to bolster the culinary cred of Byres.

Byres’ approach is that anybody can do it. Maybe. But not without lots of advance preparation, often requiring a day or more on some of the subset recipes embedded in his main recipes, and the prospect that once you’re done you’ll wind up with nearly four quarts of Racy Pickled Green Beans for which you have no other use.

On a recent Sunday, I was motivated to spend most of the day working on a Byres’ meal. I’ve spent many nice days doing that exact same thing with books from Jamie Oliver, who also presents his recipes as being much easier than they actually are. But at least you can complete most of Jamie’s instructions in a single day.

I wanted to do Byres’ Grilled Shrimp Cocktail-Style with Pickled Relish Vinaigrette. However, the dish included six embedded recipes. One required waiting “a few days” to let the pickling effect take hold. Another would have left me with all those pickled green beans that I likely would never eat again.

Frustrated, I switched to another cookbook titled Smoke, this one by Weber. I did Cedar-Planked Tuna Salad with honey dijon dressing and crispy pecans. The whole process took part of an afternoon, including a trip to Central Market. The food turned out great. My wife loved the meal. I’ll cook it again.

Another meal I made from Byres’ book was NY Strip Steak with German Potatoes. I bailed on the mustard seed caviar, which takes days to properly flavor. The meal called for the homemade sour cream, which takes about 24 hours to make, mixed with blue cheese. Martha and her husband, Bryan, loved it. I’ll make it again.

But, call me unenlightened, I’ll pass on anything that can’t be done in a day or leaves my fridge or pantry stocked with quarts of stuff I’ll never eat.

BBQ Beef Coffee Cure

1/3 cup finely ground dark roast coffee
1/3 cup dark chili powder
1/3 cup smoked paprika
1/2 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix in bowl. Store in airtight container in cool, dry place…Not the fridge…rub on the meat before cooking.

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