EXCLUSIVE: Country Star Kix Brooks to Release His First Cookbook: 'It's Not a Foodie, Exotic Chef Book'
Much of Kix Brooks‘ life has revolved around food.
“I’m not a chef but I do come from a world where half of the conversation of the day is either, ‘Do you know if the fish are biting at so and so?’ or ‘The oysters are in season, let’s go and get some fresh ones,'” the country singer tells PEOPLE. “It just sort of comes from the Louisiana culture and lifestyle.”
So it seems natural that Brooks, 60, would channel his passion into his debut cookbook Cookin’ It With Kix: The Art of Celebrating and The Fun of Outdoor Cooking, out Aug. 30.
“This book isn’t about boiling water, it is more in depth than that but it’s also not about something that’s the size of a pencil eraser and has 18 exotic flavors in it,” he says. “It’s not a foodie, exotic chef book by any means. It’s about tailgate, backyard, in your kitchen things you can do and you can do better and make a little more flavorful than maybe you were doing before.”
The Brooks & Dunn star called upon many people he’s met throughout his career to share over 100 recipes and tricks for the book. One of his favorites—a grilled salmon recipe shared exclusively with PEOPLE—comes from the “fishing guys” he spends every summer with in Alaska.
After catching fish along the river, Brooks says the men build a fire and make a “gorgeous, delicious lunch right there on the ground.” (But don’t worry, you can also whip this up on your backyard grill or in the oven.)
“It just makes you smile to realize you can cook great food anywhere with a few key ingredients and a little methodology,” he says.
In the book, Brooks—who owns Tennessee’s Arrington Vineyards—also gets into pairing different wines with different foods. “I think that intimidates a lot of people and it shouldn’t be intimidating,” he says. “Having the right wines with your dinner certainly makes things a lot better and it’s just a fun thing to know how to do and is really not that complicated.”
So what would compliment his salmon recipe below? “A Sauvignon Blanc would be a nice, fresh acidic pairing there.”
Kix Brooks’ Salmon-in-the-Fire
Fresh salmon filets
2 tsp. butter for each filet
1 tbsp. brown sugar for each filet
1. Build your fire! A campfire will do or a hot grill on the patio or you can also cook your fish in the oven. If you’re cooking in the oven, set your temp at 425-450°.
2. Lay each filet skin side down on a big square of foil. Lightly salt and pepper each piece of fish. Pinch butter into pieces and lay it on top of the fish. Sprinkle plenty of brown sugar over each filet; basically cover the entire fish in a layer of sugar. Wrap the foil loosely around each filet, forming a little foil packet, pinch foil together to tightly seal. If you’re cooking outside with a real fire, double wrap in foil. Place packets directly onto hot coals, but not directly in the flames.
3. Cook until fish is cooked. How long you say? Well, it depends, but it could take 15-20 minutes or if your fire is smokin’ hot, it might only take 8-10 minutes. If cooking in the oven, plan on it taking about 16-20 minutes. Just check it along the way and when it’s firm and browned and smells good, it’s ready! Oh yeah! This is some good eatin’! Best ever campfire cuisine!
KIX TIP: If you wanted to get fancy, you could add garlic, lemon, onions, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, dill or whatever you have on hand to the packet or spread on the fish. But if all you have is sugar and butter, you will not be disappointed.
—Ana Calderone, @anacalderone