“This book is as much about the ‘experience’ of eating as it is about cooking,” Kix Brooks writes in the introduction to his new cookbook, Cookin’ It With Kix: The Art of Celebrating and the Fun of Outdoor Cooking. “I don’t claim to be a chef, and if you bought this book, chances are you’re not a chef either, but we don’t have to be.”
And because he’s never considered himself an expert in the kitchen, Brooks says he was initially skeptical when offered a cookbook deal – something that more or less came with the territory after hosting a show on the Cooking Channel called Steak Out With Kix Brooks. But then the country legend realized he could do a lot more than just share recipes — and he realized he’d basically already written the book.
“A couple of years ago, I’d been approached to do an autobiography and I wrote about the stories and the people and the things that mattered in my life,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “I got done writing it and thought, ‘Who cares?’ I do, my kids might, but . . .[Sighs] So I just shelved it. And when this came along, I started thinking that the stories worth telling all revolve around cooking, great meals, hunting and fishing. You didn’t shoot anything at my house unless you were gonna eat it. . . It was part of living, but also part of having fun.”
Thus the cookbook title. Brooks’ new book weaves tales ranging from his childhood in Louisiana to days on the road with Brooks & Dunn. It also has party planning tips and other advice for making cooking more of a social event than a chore. That’s always been his mindset when planning a meal.
“I don’t think it was until we got to college that we realized how much fun cooking was. From that time on, it’s been a ball,” he says. “We’d get fresh oysters, fresh shrimp, throw them on a table. Yeah, we can boil them all with corn and potatoes, lay it all out and make this party. . . And then you can call chicks! [Laughs] Dorks like us didn’t have a chance, but cooking was cool!”
More than 120 recipes are included in the colorful book, in which Brooks’ Louisiana roots run deep. There are recipes for crawfish etoufée, jambalaya, shrimp po’ boys and grilled oysters. For land (and hunting) lovers, there’s duck gumbo, venison jerky and even squirrel stew. (“Does a squirrel not have the same pedigree as rabbits? Prejudice will not stand in this cookbook!” Brooks jokes.) There’s a whole chapter dedicated to libations, as well, along with wine pairing tips – essential elements given Brooks is also the owner of Arrington Vineyards, an award-winning winery just south of Nashville.
Below, Brooks shares the recipe for his Honky-Tonk Tequila Steak. Cookin’ It With Kix is out August 30th.
Honky-Tonk Tequila Steak
Kix’s Story: Ronnie Dunn and I burned up the road and the stage together for more than twenty years as Brooks & Dunn. A lot of the music we made was what you might call rambunctious, honky-tonk country— songs like “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “Little Miss Honky Tonk,” “You Can’t Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl” and “Honky Tonk Stomp”— you get the idea. This steak recipe is just as rowdy as those two-steppin’ barroom tunes. It’s easy to transport the marinating steak in a cooler to a picnic or tailgate party. Take it out of the cooler while you’re setting up your grill, then slap it on the hot fire, and in less than 10 minutes, your steak is ready. Remember to bring a big cutting board for resting and slicing your steak on.
Big handful of fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup tequila
½ cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder or 4 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon onion powder or 1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and roughly chopped (optional)
1 flank steak
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix the cilantro, tequila, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and serrano pepper in a large ziptop plastic bag or plastic storage container. Add the steak. Seal the bag or cover the container, and refrigerate for several hours. Heat grill to high. Remove the steak from refrigerator or cooler, and let sit on counter, in the marinade, for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Remove it from the marinade, and sprinkle both sides with the salt and pepper. Discard the marinade. Grill or broil the steak for 4 to 5 minutes on each side over direct heat. Remove from the heat, and let the steak rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board. Slice against the grain and serve.