Culinary Dream Team

Texas authors headline the book fest Cooking Tent

Culinary Dream Team

The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love

by Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy
The Salt Lick Restaurant, 348 pp., $39.95

In the book's title, Salt Lick BBQ restau­rant owner and pitmaster Scott Roberts and noted wordsmith Jessica Dupuy didn't mention the focus that's held four generations of the Roberts clan together: great, simple food. Roberts' combination memoir/cookbook is a loving homage to a remarkable culinary heritage, a special rural environment, and the family that is the foundation of the story. From a pristine 600-acre spread on the banks of Onion Creek, settled by the great grandparents in 1867, to the farm of the grandparents, to the barbecue restaurant started by the parents, Roberts weaves a fascinating and compelling tale of the history of the family, the land, and the restaurant. What started as a simple country roadside shack has grown into a smoked meat culinary complex (complete with a 50-acre vineyard and its own wine label) that feeds over 600,000 devotees a year.

The 100 easy-to-follow and well-written recipes are loaded with descriptive headnotes and backstory. They begin with the cherished country dishes of the old days, like Hisako Roberts' delicious chicken and dumplings, aromatic green onion and cheese soufflé, and her sinfully rich but light lemon chiffon pie. The recipes include all of the restaurant's menu items (except the famous barbecue sauce; that's one you don't get), and for the barbecue neophyte, Roberts details the entire process in amazing detail, complete with step-by-step photos. The recipes finish with some of the dishes from the catering operation, including such treasures as quail with grapefruit glaze and a delectable pulled pork and mushroom stew.

Roberts and Dupuy have put together a compelling historical document that makes for fine reading; the recipes are the delicious bonus. Kenny Braun's lavish photographs run throughout, aptly illustrating the land and the food. This is a cookbook that you'll find invaluable on the cutting board or the coffee table, and one that would make the family's ancestors very proud.

Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy appear in the Cooking Tent from 3:30-4:30pm on Sunday, and at the Central Market Cooking School on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 6:30pm.

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