The thrill of the grill These books will make your cookouts sizzle

Detroit Free PressMay 21, 2014 

It’s time to get your grill on. Memorial Day — the unofficial start of the summer grilling season — is just days away. This year, there are tons of new grilling cookbooks out there to get you fired up. With recipes for steaks, pizzas, seafood and more, there’s a book to suit just about any taste. Here’s a sampling to whet your appetite. In addition to helpful tips, each features lots of mouth-watering recipes that’ll make your cookouts sizzle this summer.

“Weber’s Big Book of Burgers: The Ultimate Guide to Grilling Backyard Classics”

By Jamie Purviance (Sunset, $21.95)

The thrust of this book is burgers — but not just plain old beef burgers. Weber grilling guru Jaime Purviance covers just about anything that can be shaped into a patty and served on a bun or a variety of breads and rolls. There are recipes for beef burgers, chicken and turkey burgers, shrimp burgers and an array of veggie burgers. Hot dogs, sausages, brats and condiments also are featured along with drinks and side dishes.

Best tip: Don’t crowd food on the grill. “All food cooks a little better on a grill with a little space around,” Purviance writes.

“Gastro Grilling: Fired-up Recipes to Grill Great Everyday Meals”

By Ted Reader (Pintail, $25)

Ted Reader writes that he uses the word “gastro” not to mean pretentious, but rather to refer to “the art and science of good eating.” That mantra is reflected in the book’s recipes (there are more than 135 of them). The recipes range from higher-end dishes like Planked Smoked Burrata Cheese or Cinnamon-Skewered Scallops with Brown Sugar Basting Butter to simpler ones for steak, chicken, fish and side dishes. Reader also offers directions and tips for cooking with charcoal and gas grills as well as a variety of wood.

Best tip: Patience and practice are key when using charcoal grills. Look for charcoal made from 100% all-natural pure hard-wood.

“Pizza on the Grill: 100+ Feisty Fire-Roasted Recipes for Pizza & More”

By Elizabeth Karmel & Bob Blumer (Taunton Press, $17.95)

Grilled pizza can be tricky, but authors Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer provide all the know-how you need for success. They share tips on making dough, including a gluten-free option, as well as how to shape it for a gas grill versus a charcoal one (yes, there’s a difference). Several recipes call for adding nuts, garlic or herbs to the dough. Each recipe includes drinks to serve with the pizzas and ways to customize them or kick them up a few notches.

Best tip: Create organic shaped pizza to fit the heat source and be sure to brush rolled-out dough generously with oil to prevent it from sticking to the grates.

“Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue”

By Cheryl and Bill Jamison (Harvard Common Press, $24.95)

This is the updated version of Cheryl and Bill Jamison’s 1994 grilling tome. The barbecue masters and James Beard Cookbook award winners completely revised their book to include new recipes and full color photographs. There’s more than 450 recipes from all barbecue regions of the U.S. The book is divided into sections on beef, pork and poultry. The Jamisons also cover the craft of true barbecue, offering tips on using smoke and cooking foods low and slow. They also address the trend of smoking foods indoors.

Best tip: Have an area for cutting, prepping and keeping supplies and sauces at hand when cooking outdoors.

“Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue”

By Melissa Cookston (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $22.99)

Pitmaster and restaurateur Melissa Cookston writes that her “barbecue and cooking are about building layered tastes that unite on flavored effect.” And her cookbook provides mouth-watering recipes from the Delta region that do just that. Cookston also includes her competition recipes, plenty of tips, stories from the barbecue competition circuit and even a recipe for cooking a whole hog. Peppered throughout are recipes for injection sauces, glazes, seasonings and rubs.

Best tip: “Sauces should complement the meat, not overpower it, and certainly never conflict with it,” Cookston writes.

“Fire & Smoke: A Pitmaster’s Secrets”

By Chris Lilly (Clarkson Potter, $24.99)

Chris Lilly set out to share pitmaster techniques, tips and recipes on a scale best suited for backyard grillers. Instead of offering large-quantity recipes like many pitmasters do, Lilly provides recipes and guidance on achieving pitmaster-style barbecue using smaller cuts of meat. There also are tips on how to infuse flavor and get that perfectly charred skin. Included are more than 100 recipes designed to teach people how to grill and smoke foods. Lilly also shares recipes for rubs, brines and glazes.

BEST TIP: Lilly writes that “metal smoker boxes are a viable way to add real smoke flavor” if you use a gas grill and want to add wood smoke flavoring.


Serves: 3 to 4 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 31/2 hours

1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds

3 tablespoons Basic BBQ Rub (see below)

1/2 cup BBQ Mother Sauce (see below)

Prepare a smoker to cook at 250 degrees with 2 to 3 chunks of apple or cherry wood.

Using kitchen shears, cut the chicken in half lengthwise and remove excess skin and fat. Sprinkle the rub over both sides of the chicken, then place the chicken in the smoker to cook for 2 1/2 hours, or until the thigh registers 175 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove from the smoker and lightly brush with the sauce, then place back in the smoker for 10 minutes to tighten up the sauce. Remove from the smoker and serve.

- Ultimate BBQ Rub (makes about 2 3/4 cups): In a clean coffee grinder place 1 cup turbinado sugar and pulse until lightly powdered. Transfer to a bowl. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 2 tablespoons granulated garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne, 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, 1/4 cup light chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons paprika. Stir well. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

- BBQ Mother Sauce (makes about 6 cups): In a medium saucepan, heat 1/4 cup canola oil over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup diced sweet onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low if the onion is cooking too fast - you don’t want it caramelized or browned. As the onion is getting close, add 2 tablespoons minced garlic and cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes longer. Add 1 1/2 cups ketchup, 1/2 cup honey, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1/4 cup vinegar, 6 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup Worcestershire, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, 1 teaspoon cayenne and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and stir well. Slowly add 1/2 cup water until the sauce reaches the consistency you like. A slightly thick consistency is best. Add about 3 tablespoons of the Ultimate BBQ Rub, stir well, and taste. The sauce should have a good, well-rounded flavor. Add more rub in 1-tablespoon increments until your desired flavor is achieved. Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

“From Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue” by Melissa Cookston (Andrews McMeel, $22.99). Not tested. Nutrition information not available.


Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 25 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes

4 slices thick-cut bacon


1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


2 ripe Hass avocados

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons minced garlic


2 pounds ground chuck (80% lean)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

8 thin slices cheddar cheese

4 hamburger buns, split

4 leaves Boston lettuce

1 ripe beefsteak tomato, cut crosswise into 4 slices about 1/3-inch thick

In a skillet over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally. Drain on paper towels.

Whisk the mayo ingredients, including 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In a small bowl, mash the avocado and add the lime juice and garlic. Mash the guacamole ingredients, including 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In a large bowl, mix the ground chuck with the Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the smoked paprika and onion powder, and then gently form 8 patties of equal size, each about 1/2-inch thick and a little wider than the buns. Refrigerate the patties until ready to grill.

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (400-500 degrees).

Grill the patties over direct medium-high heat, with the lid closed, until cooked to medium doneness (about 160 degrees), 6 to 8 minutes, turning once. During the last 30 seconds to 1 minute of grilling time, place a slice of cheese on each patty to melt, and toast the buns, cut side down, over direct heat.

Build each burger on a bun with garlic mayo, a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice, two patties, as much guacamole as you like, a slice of bacon (torn in half) and more garlic mayo. Serve immediately.

From “Weber’s Big Book of Burgers: The Ultimate Guide to Grilling Backyard Classics” by Jamie Purviance (Sunset, $21.95).

Not tested. Nutrition information not available.


Makes: 24 / Preparation time: 40 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

24 fresh rosemary sprigs

2 boneless lamb loins

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon

6 plump cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup ouzo

3 tablespoons honey

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the grill to high.

Take one sprig of rosemary and peel away about 2 to 3 inches of leaves from the bottom end. Reserve those leaves for the marinade. Repeat with remaining sprigs. Place sprigs in a dish and cover with warm water for at least an hour.

Slice the lamb into 1/2-inch-thick medallions. You should get 24 total. Thread 1 medallion onto each bottom end of the rosemary sprig. Repeat with all medallions and rosemary sprigs. Brush each slice of lamb on both sides with a little olive oil and set aside.

To make the basting sauce, zest the lemon and place in a bowl. Cut the lemon in half and juice it. Add the juice to the zest. Coarsely chop the reserved rosemary leaves (about 1 tablespoon) and add to the juice.

In a small saucepan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute 1 to 2 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat; add ouzo, honey and lemon-rosemary mixture. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Season the lamb sticks with salt and black pepper. Grill with the lid open about 1 to 2 minutes on one side. Turn the sticks over and baste with the reserved ouzo lemon baste. Remove from grill and garnish with feta cheese.

“Gastro Grilling: Fired-up Recipes to Grill Great Everyday Meals” by Ted Reader (Pintail, $25). Not tested. Nutrition information not available.

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