Dishing With Aaron Franklin

Pitmaster & best-selling author Aaron Franklin shares the stories behind newest cookbook

From opening his restaurant, Franklin Barbecue, and launching a line of backyard barbecue pits to winning the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest and writing his best-selling book Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto, it’s no wonder Aaron Franklin is one of the most influential pitmasters in not just the South, but the entire nation. Now he’s back with Franklin Steak—his second book with co-author and friend Jordan Mackay.

What was the inspiration behind your new cookbook, Franklin Steak?

The ideas actually developed organically while Jordan and I were writing the first book, Franklin Barbecue. Steaks were already something he was interested in writing about, and I started to think, “You know, this is a perfect, easy extension of barbecue.” We wanted to explore what it means to really know and cook incredible meat beyond barbecue.

What was it like juggling all your different responsibilities while developing this book?

I just get out of bed and go to work every day. I try not to think about it as “juggling.” We always have several projects going on at once, but I really like creating things and staying busy.

What should readers expect to learn from Franklin Steak?

There is obviously going to be a bit about what I like to call “the story of steak,” meaning history and genetics, of course, but there is some talk about ethics and how animals are raised. The overarching theme behind the book, though, is that it’s not about how much meat you eat, but the quality of the meat you’re cooking.

What are you grilling this summer?

Definitely a tender cut of bavette [d’aloyau], or “flap meat,” as it’s referred to here in the States. We touch on it in the book, but it’s not a terribly expensive piece of meat and is always pretty lean. I pair it with fresh-cut tomatoes, a splash of vinegar, and lemon juice. It’s my summertime jam!

Any tips for aspiring grill masters?

Don’t get bogged down in what types of charcoal or grills you are using because everyone has their own methods. I like what I like, but what I like may not work for someone else. Just use what you have.