Extreme Barbecue by Dan Huntley and Lisa Grace Lednicer celebrates all those soot-streaked men and women who sweat over barbecue pits across the nation. You’ve seen them wearing sauce-smattered aprons and holding up a rack of spare ribs. Take David Klose, who in the book is dubbed the “King of the Texas Barbecue Pits.” Klose runs a multi-million dollar business, BBQ Pits by Klose. How did he get started? “I got tired of Wendy’s” he explains. His pits go for anywhere from $60 (for a basic grill) to $50,000 (for a mobile catering rig). A rig? The name comes from the Texas oil bust in the mid eighties, when down-and-out oilmen built barbecue grills from the metal scraps, pipes, and welding tools that once pumped oil. And they come in every incarnation imaginable: trashcan rigs, rigs jutting off front loaders, a two-story smoker with a spiral staircase.

It’s true we Texans like to think we invented barbecue, but according to this cookbook, Texas may not be the center of the barbecue universe. Extreme Barbecue covers each U.S. region’s rich meat-cooking history and offers many recipes, from vegetable side dishes to Caribbean Meat Loaf. And there’s also some good smoking and grilling advice, such as what kind of wood to use (answer: it varies according to location). If you don’t have any metal scraps around, no worries. Klose says, “A good cook could kick a hole in the ground with his boot heel and beat most people cooking.”