September 23, 2010

Excellent Grilling Reference

In my previous cookbook review, I noted that we weren't getting paid to do the reviews, but were instead doing them because we wanted to tell people about references and equipment we've found particularly useful. Well, as you will see in today's review, we are now participating in the Amazon Associates program, but we want to assure you, that original statement is still true. Yes, we will make a bit of money if some of our readers follow the links to Amazon and buy something we've reviewed, but that's not the reason we're doing the reviews. We're doing them because we want to, and we choose what to review based on our experiences and opinions, without regard to what might potentially earn us more money.

So, with that out of the way, on to my next review.

I love grilling.  There's something primal about cooking over hot coals (no gas grilling for me, thanks), and about the marks left behind by searing food on a hot grill.  Then there's the wonderful aroma of smoke (especially if one mixes some wood in with the coals).  And then there's the unique flavor of grilled foods.  Let's face it, some foods just aren't as good if they aren't grilled.  Steaks, for example.  Or burgers.  Plus, the grill is an amazingly versatile way to cook.   With the right tools, there are relatively few things one can't prepare on the grill.

Much as I love grilling, though, I don't claim to be any sort of expert.  At best, I'm a talented amateur, though dedicated to continued improvement.   So, I'm always looking for new tips and tricks and techniques - and recipes, of course.   Weber's Big Book of Grilling is one of the best sources I've found for all of the above.

Weber's Big Book of Grilling

Weber's Big Book of Grilling
by Jamie Purviance, Sandra S. McRae and Tim Turner
May 2001, Chronicle Books
416 pages, softcover

Really, Weber's Big Book of Grilling has it all.  It starts with a discussion of grilling basics:  techniques, safety considerations and so forth - then moves on to a discussion of marinades, rubs and sauces:   how to make them, their proper use, the effects one can achieve with each and so forth.  The rest of the book mostly consists of a dizzying variety of recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts.  There are also sidebars, or occasionally pages, dishing out the occasional tip, bit of useful information or funny anecdote.  The recipes cover a range of different regional traditions and include dishes from a variety of cuisines.  From Memphis rubs and Kansas City sauces to Caribbean jerk chicken and Thai shrimp skewers, whatever sorts of grilling you favor, you'll probably find a bit of that in this book.  Best of all, Weber's Big Book of Grilling is very readable.  The authors dish out their advice with heaping portions of humor and a conversational tone not unlike what you might overhear when a group of friends are swapping tips while grilling some brats in the backyard and tossing back a beer or six.

I've gotten a lot of use out of this book, and expect I will continue to find it useful for years to come.  There may be some books that go into deeper detail about the art of grilling (though none come to mind), but I don't think I've run into any that are so broadly useful, or nearly so entertaining.  I've gotten particularly good mileage out of the sections on grilling vegetables and ribs. Whatever your grilling tastes, unless you're already such a master griller that you should be writing your own books, you'll probably find something in this book that will be helpful.

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