a review of John McLemore’s latest cookbook “Dadgum That’s Good! And Healthy”
When this book came my way, I had no idea how things would go. With no grill, zero experience with a smoker and minimal comfort deep frying foods—I was convinced that I would either ruin the food or severely injure myself (and maybe both). To my surprise and delight—neither horror occurred. In fact, I was lauded for my” mad skillz on the grillz”…. (yes, that’s a direct quote).
John McLemore has written more than a couple of cookbooks. But this time he decided to take some of his family’s signature dishes to a new level with healthy eating as the main focus. He proves that you can have an amazingly flavorful meal and still maintain your figure!
In flipping through the book you may not immediately notice, but majority of the recipes require a smoker. A VAST majority. So unless you own or intend to own a smoker—this ain’t the book for you. However, there are some good recipes for grilling and frying—and that was the direction I chose. You may also want to make sure your kitchen is stocked with a few other tools as well. A food processor is not listed as a necessity, but I noticed that this was needed for more than one recipe. So just take your time looking through to make sure you can actually make the dishes.
Flipping through you may also appreciate the ground that the book covers. From details about smoking temps and times to the nutrition. In addition to calorie count for each recipe, he also includes tips for how to make some of the recipes even healthier. I can dig that!
My homie DJ Bigg H threw a Fall Shindig and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to try a few of the recipes I was set to review. He has a slow-cook grill as well as very cool family and friends. I chose three recipes; one vegan, one vegetarian and of course, MEAT. I won’t pretend there are many vegan options but I was pleased to see grilled brussel sprouts alongside salsa verde skirt steak. I decided to go with grilled balsamic portabella mushrooms, grilled zucchini and jerk chicken. Not exactly cheap eats, but more affordable than the brisket I considered.
I almost never follow recipes exactly, giving everything I prepare a little DineWithDani flavor. But for this, I wanted to remain true to John McLemore’s vision. So instead of settling for the dried rosemary in my cabinet or the frozen chicken thighs in my freezer, I bought fresh everything at the market on the morning of the barbecue.
The prep wasn’t hard or lengthy really. The marinades were almost too easy. Authentic Jamaican jerk has a reputation for being laborious. While preparing the marinades, I’ll admit that I was underwhelmed with what I tasted. But I let the jerk chicken and balsamic mushrooms marinate while I got dressed. Shortly thereafter, I packed my icy cooler and got on the road. The whole way driving I was thinking, ‘please God let this be good. I don’t want these people to think I can’t cook.’
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