Jamie Purviance has topped himself. His Weber’s Way to Grill has replaced his Weber’s Big Book of Grilling in my Top Three Cookbooks.
The recipes looked great in the photos. I knew I was going to like this book where I learned a couple interesting important new facts just reading the foreword. The introduction chapter explained to me why the DuraFlame charcoal I like so much behaves the way it does and why I prefer it to Kingsford. All of this before I got to the recipes. The book begins with a chapter called Grilling Basics, followed by chapters on Red Meat, Pork, Poultry, Seafood, Seafood, Vegetables, & Fruit. These are followed by a chapter called Grilling Resources which has more tips, grilling time/temperature charts and recipes for rubs and marinades. The recipes section typically has a page or two with pictures and tips about a certain recipe technique followed by one or more recipes that utilize the techniques just explained. The recipes use techniques that are sometimes more advanced than those found in Big Book of Grilling, but the pictures and text guide you through every step of the way.
My Top Three Cookbooks prior to this week. In alphabetical order Steven Raichlen’s How to Grill, Mastering the Grill by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim and Weber’s Big Book of Grilling by Jaimee Purviance.
Then there are the pictures of the final product. I own the other 5 Weber cookbooks that Jamie Purviance has written and I could enjoy them just for the food pictures alone. This book shares the great food photography of the predecessors. I can’t tell you how many recipes I have added to my “To-Do” list, just thumbing through this book. I go in looking for one thing to make and keep spotting other interesting items. I bought the book last Thursday night. Originally I was doing a cook on Sunday and nothing before that time. But as I started leafing through the book Thursday night, I found I couldn’t help myself and suddenly I was planning additional cooks. This weekend I made 3 recipes from the book (see the picture links below) and they all turned out great. Last night I was looking for a lamb recipe for Easter and ended up finding at least a dozen other items I want to make real soon. The only other book that inspired me this way was HOW TO GRILL back when I started trying to get serious about grilling.
My New Top Three Cookbooks. In alphabetical order Steven Raichlen’s How to Grill, Mastering the Grill by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim and Weber’s Way to Grill by Jaimee Purviance.
Traditionally the Weber books have you covered for the behind the scenes items that can make or break a given cook. In the past they would sometimes have you do something without explaining the why behind it. For example I made two similar recipes from a Weber book and another authors. The first time I made it the meat was too soft and almost seeped through the grill grates and really stuck to the grill grates. Someone told me to add in bread crumbs and chill the meat. When I made a similar dish in the Weber book there were the bread crumbs, they had you refrigerate the meat for an hour and they had you put olive oil on the meat in addition to oiling the grill grates. So they had your back without you knowing it. This book still has you covered, but often spells out why you are doing a given thing.
I used to describe many of the items in Weber’s Big Book of Grilling in two ways: Some items were fancy or elegant foods done simply but deliciously or comfort foods taken up a notch. The elegant foods were expensive cuts that were made easy so you might be tempted to do them and do them more often. Or it took the fear factor out that you might buy an expensive piece of meat and then ruin it due to your inexperience. The comfort foods were improved by not treating them like a day to day staple, but really making them the best they could be, while still keeping things relatively simple. It is obvious that Jamie Purviance has grown as a cook, as these recipes have more of an international flavor and use more advanced techniques in some cases. Actually I probably have grown too, because five years ago I might not have been as interested in this book. Now I’d like to try something new every night in the week. The wealth of pictures really help you pull this off. The Chicken Involtini I made from this book involve pounding the meat thin, called a Paillard. Well I had never done this before and while the written description might have sufficed, the page with the step by step pictures of the process made it foolproof.
I look forward to a lot of great grilling from this book in the months to come. I was trying to decide how to rank my top three books HOW TO GRILL, MASTERING THE GRILL, and now WEBER’S WAY TO GRILL. First off I would say if you able to, then buy all three. While there is some overlap in recipes, there is less than you would expect. Plus you will learn a lot from all of them. If I had to recommend one then it gets tough. If it is a pure beginner and you don’t know how adventurous they are in terms of the foods they like I would say HOW TO GRILL is still my first choice for most beginners. Plus even people who have been cooking a long time will still learn quite a bit from this book. If they like Steven Raichlen’s recipes (and they will) they can then move into regional US variations with his BBQ USA and world wide variations with BBQ Bible. Someone who is not quite a beginner and is looking to improve their game, plus try some new things would be a great candidate for WEBER’S WAY TO GRILL. A person who has been grilling a while and wants to learn some of the science behind this hobby and solid techniques to improve tough to make meals would be a great candidate for MASTERING THE GRILL. It is great with breaking down recipes into techniques that help you understand the science that help make you successful. But honestly, once again buy all three!! They are great books and will inspire you to make great things for a long time to come.