The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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How to Grill

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This blog entry is about the book that changed the way I grill and that I still refer to regularly: Steven Raichlen’s How to Grill. I already told the background story in my first blog entry called, HOW DIDI I GET HERE?, so I won’t repeat that. Instead I will talk about what makes this book unique and special among grilling cookbooks.

When I got my last gas grill it was quite a bit better than my prior gas grills. I wanted to start using it for more than the usual fare. I’d picked up cookbooks about grilling before, but they assumed a certain level of knowledge I simply didn’t possess. They constantly used terms unfamiliar to me. They also seemed to make complex recipes look simple by not describing them in depth. As a result: I never dared attempt them, because there wasn’t enough detail to make me feel confident I could actually make them. So I’d try one or two recipes from a book and then never use that book again. What I was looking for was a “Grilling for Dummies” Book.

When I went out looking for a new cookbook the day I christened my fancy new grill I did even better than I hoped for. How to Grill is a back to basics book. Steven Raichlen wrote the book because he discovered that even though many people had been long time grillers they still had very basic questions. So he wrote a back to basics book and the thing that really sets it apart from other books is the extensive use of pictures.

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The first meal I made from How to Grill was Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb and it was a great success.

There are over 1,000 pictures illustrating both techniques and recipes. One of the things I liked right away is how he broke things down to the basics, illustrated a particular technique and then had a recipe using that technique. For example: there will be pictures showing how to prepare a turkey for the grill. Following that is a recipe to cook the turkey on the grill. When discussing steaks, he has a 2 page picture spread showing the various cuts of steaks, with the various names and regional name that they go by. I found this very helpful as many steaks often go by several names. Next is a series of recipes using the various types of steaks. This method of illustrating the basic technique and then show a specific recipe using that technique has worked very well for me.

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Success spurs you to expand your horizons. Steven Raichlen helped popularize Beer Can Chicken. How to Grill had a great recipe.

The book starts out describing the basics of grilling the equipment, controlling the temperature, and a little about some of the basic ingredients and prep methods. Then he covers Beef and Veal, Pork and Sausages, Lamb, Chicken and More (Turkey, Duck, Hen), Fish, Shellfish, Vegetables Plus and Desserts. It finishes up with some Rubs, Sauces and Condiments. These are often simple but surprisingly tasty. I Liked them so much I went out and bought Raichlen’s Sauces, Rubs & Marinades. At the end of the book is an illustrated chapter on various grilling tools and accessories. There is something here for everyone. Even if you are in intermediate level griller there is useful information here.

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Many of the recipes have a “wow” factor. In Chicken Under a Brick you cook the chicken under a foil wrapped brick

The recipes in this book are explained in detail, well illustrated and can be made by any mere mortals who can read and follow good directions. And these directions are good. Unlike many other cookbooks, they don’t leave you guessing. Some of Raichlen’s other cookbooks also assume a certain level of knowledge I didn’t originally possess. This book quickly had me moving into new areas I never would have imagined and achieving success right off the bat. I now own 4 other cookbooks by Mr. Raichlen. What I usually do is use How to Grill to learn the basic techniques of a grilling a certain food item. I’ll make that item several times to make sure I understand it. Then I move onto some of his other books which often have regional or international versions of these same food items. The grilling cookbooks that are more advanced make more sense once you are comfortable with the basics.

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Matambre, like all of the recipes pictured on this page, are items I never would have attempted before How to Grill.

Every time I delve into new territory this book is typically the first place I look. Recently I decided I wanted to move into grilling more vegetables. I kept returning to How to Grill for this and the fact it is still my “Go to” book for grilling, is what planted the seed for this blog. Even though I knew zero about grilling veggies I had instant success using this book, and now I have the confidence to start trying more advanced recipes in other books. These other recipes often aren’t as well explained, but I was able to learn what I needed to know in How to Grill and this helps fill in the blanks. This is far different than 4 years ago where I would never try recipes in the typical grilling cookbook because they were over my head and I had no way to make jump to this level of knowledge.

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When it was time to start making more veggies on the grill, it was right back to How to Grill.

In this life nothing is perfect so I do have a few wishes about this book. The first is: I know the title is How to Grill and there are some references to how to do it low and slow, but I wish it had more about smoking techniques. Or better yet I wish Steven Raiclen would write the illustrated How to Smoke book. I wished they used a better binder. Many people who bought this book have found the pages begin to come loose after a bit of use. And believe me you will return to this book often. Better yet they should have used a different style of binder. But if my biggest complaints are: I wish he would write another book and the pages fell out because I used the book a lot, I think you can see what a great book this is.

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I liked How to Grill so much I bought 4 more Steven Raichlen cookbooks

If you or someone you know wants to improve their grilling skills and make proven successful recipes you can’t do better than this book. It is also available in an iPod (though sadly not iPhone) friendly version too. If you know someone who is just starting out this book has there name on it. I had no real knowledge of cooking and it brought me into a whole new level of grilling. Four years and many great meals later I am still learning from it.

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SOME RELATED LINKS:
Some Picture Entries using recipes from HOW TO GRILL

  LEAN MEAN TEXAS BRISKET Beef Picture Entry
  MATAMBRE Beef Picture Entr
  HICKORY PRIME RIB Beef Picture Entr
  BEEF RIBS Beef Picture Entr
  RACK OF LAMB Picture Entry
  KC RIBS v1 Pork Picture Entry
  NC PULLED PORK Pork Picture Entry
  BEER CAN CHICKEN Poultry Picture Entry
  CHICKEN UNDER A BRICK Poultry Picture Entry
  GRILLED CORN Veggies Picture Entry
  GRILLED PEPPER SALAD Picture Entry
  GRILLED TOMATOES Veggies Picture Entry
  SESAME GRILLED ASPARAGUS Veggies Picture Entry
  SMOKED POTATOES Veggies Picture Entry


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