If you’re looking for some inspiration for your next barbecue, look no further than the bookshelf.
There’s a whole crop of new cookbooks on the market devoted to grilling, smoking, and all things barbecue that will help get cooks fired up about open-fire cooking.
Here are seven to check out:
1. The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appétit ($45, hardcover, Andrews McMeel)
Ever thought about grilling bacon? How easily can you turn salmon into a burger? Is it really OK to bake ribs inside first? The answers to these questions and more are all in this new tome from Bon Appétit magazine.
More than 400 pages and oodles of instruction (there’s an entire chapter devoted to just prepping the grill) make this a must-have guide for newbies, and a welcome refresher course for the oldest of flame masters.
There are more than 300 recipes, including fresh takes on traditional favorites, like this recipe for Sweet-and-Spicy Shrimp.
¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
3½ tbsp. fresh lemon juice, divided
2 tbsp. plus ½ cup vegetable oil, divided, plus more for brushing
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
½ tsp. salt, plus more as needed
2 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
Mix brown sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil, cayenne, lemon zest, and ½ tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place mint, remaining 1½ tablespoons lemon juice, and remaining ½ cup oil in a food processor. Pulse, scraping down sides occasionally, until mint is finely chopped and mixture is smooth. Season mint sauce to taste with salt.
Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill grate with oil. Thread shrimp onto skewers. Grill shrimp until just opaque in the center, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with mint sauce.
Makes 6 servings.
2. Everyday Barbecue by Myron Mixon with Kelly Alexander ($24, softcover, Ballantine)
You might recognize Mixon as the judge on Discovery Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters show. He is known as “the winningest man in competitive barbecue.”
In this book, Mixon aims to show home cooks how they can pull off some high-level barbecue in their own backyards, no matter what their experience level or equipment.
There are nearly 150 recipes, including Southern specialties like grilled pimento cheese sandwiches, and this one for a foolproof homemade barbecue sauce that will work well on beef, chicken or pork.
THE ONLY BARBECUE
SAUCE YOU NEED
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
2 tbsp. paprika
⅔ cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse a couple of times to thoroughly combine. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir continuously until the sauce is heated through, but do not allow it to come to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
Use the sauce immediately as you like, or if reserving for a later use, allow the mixture to cool, then pour it into a large bottle or container and store, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 year.
Makes about 3 cups.
3. America’s Best BBQ Homestyle, by Ardie A. Davis and Paul Kirk ($19.99, softcover, Andrews McMeel)
Davis, a longtime barbecue contest judge, and pit master Kirk team up on this fun book in which they ask award-winning barbecue teams what they like to cook at home.
The resulting book is a compilation of recipes from the champions, from breakfasts to desserts. The book is filled with photos of competitions and lots of information about how these winning teams got started.
This recipe is from Clint Cantwell of the Smoke In Da Eye competitive team.
SMOKE IN DA EYE
RUBBED NEW YORK STRIP STEAK
For the rub:
2 tbsp. ground coffee
2 tbsp. smoked paprika
1½ tbsp. coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
½ tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp. kosher salt
For the steaks:
4 New York strip steaks, about 1½ inches thick
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix all of the rub ingredients together and set aside.
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a grill to high, placing the majority of the coals and a couple (optional) fist-sized wood chunks in the center of the grill to create a cool zone on the outer edges.
Once the steaks have come to room temperature, coat all sides with the olive oil; then season generously with the coffee-coriander rub. Place the steaks in the center of the grill, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Flip and grill, covered, for another 3 minutes. Flip and cook each side for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the steaks reach your desired level of doneness. Remove from the grill and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes so that the juices have time to redistribute and don’t end up all over your serving platter or cutting board.
Makes 4 servings.
4. Weber’s New Real Grilling by Jamie Purviance ($24.94, softcover, Sunset)
This line of cookbooks from the grill maker are some of the most popular in print. That’s due to Purviance’s reputation as one of the country’s leading experts on grilling.
He has written all of Weber’s cookbooks and this latest edition is full of expert tips on how to grill, and also on what to grill.
Purviance covers the gamut from burgers, steaks and pork to seafood, side dishes, pizza and dessert. Here’s his take on a local favorite, kielbasa.
6 oz. sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
2 red onions, 10-12 oz. total, halved and very thinly sliced
2 bottles beer (12 oz. each)
1 tsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. caraway seed
⅛ tsp. celery seed
1 lb. kielbasa, halved lengthwise, each half cut crosswise into 2 pieces
4 submarine sandwich rolls, each about 6 inches long, split
Yellow or brown deli mustard
Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat, 350 to 450 degrees.
In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, combine the sauerkraut, onion, beer and sugar. Place the skillet over direct medium heat, close the lid, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, add the caraway seed and the celery seed. After the same time, grill the kielbasa, cut side down first, over direct medium heat, until nicely browned, 7 to 8 minutes, turning once. Remove the kielbasa from the grill and cut into 1-inch pieces. After the sauerkraut mixture has simmered for 25 to 30 minutes, add the kielbasa to the skillet and continue to cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Toast the rolls, cut side down, over direct medium heat until warmed through and lightly browned, about 1 minute.
Fill the rolls with the onion and kielbasa mixture. Serve with mustard.
Makes 4 servings.
5. 100 Grilling Recipes You Can’t Live Without by Cheryl and Bill Jamison ($16.95, softcover, Harvard Common Press).
The Jamisons have written six previous books on grilling and barbecuing, and are using this volume to boil it all down to just 100 recipes.
They include such basics as chicken under a brick and all-American burgers, but also a few unexpected dishes like grilled french fries.
This recipe for grilled chicken thighs shows just how well dark meat does on the grill.
CHICKEN THIGHS WITH LOADS
OF LEMON AND GARLIC
8 large bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (about 7 oz. each)
For the lemon garlic marinade:
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaping tbsp. minced garlic
Grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 tsp. kosher salt or coarse sea salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
At least 2 hours and up to 24 hours before you plan to grill, prepare the marinade. Combine the oil, garlic and lemon zest in a small skillet and warm over medium-low heat for several minutes, until the garlic begins to color. Remove from the heat and let cool. Stir in the lemon juice, salt and pepper. The mixture will be soupy.
Loosen the skin on the thighs. Coat the thighs thoroughly with the marinade, rubbing it over and under the skin, working it as far as possible under the skin without tearing it. Place the chicken in a zipper-top plastic bag with any remaining marinade, seal the bag and refrigerate.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, discarding the marinade, and let it sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
Fire up the grill for a two-level fire capable of cooking at the same time on both high heat and medium low heat. (On a gas grill, set burners to two different cooking temperatures; on a charcoal grill, use one layer of coals for a low heat, and coals stacked two or three high for a higher heat.)
Blot any liquid on the surface of the chicken with a paper towel. Grill, uncovered, over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, turning to sear both sides. Move the chicken to medium-low heat and continue grilling for another 12 to 15 minutes, turning every 3 minutes or so. Watch for flare-ups, shifting the thighs away from the flames if necessary. The thighs are done when the skin is brown and crisp and the juices run clear. The temperature should register 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
6. All Fired Up, the editors of Southern Living with Troy Black ($24.95, softcover, Oxmoor House).
Southern Living has teamed up with Black for this colorful volume of grilling recipes with a distinct southern flair. The recipes are simple and easy to follow, which makes them perfect for cooks who like to cook outdoors, but aren’t having a serious love affair with their grills.
2 tbsp. kosher salt
3 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. ground red pepper
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. ancho chile pepper
6 farm-raised catfish fillets (tilapia or orange roughy can be substituted)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Preheat grill to 350-400 degree heat (medium high). Stir together first eight ingredients in a small bowl. Rub catfish with oil, and sprinkle with spice mixture. (This should form a paste.)
Grill, covered with grill lid, 4 minutes on each side or just until fish flakes with a fork. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.
Makes 6 servings.
7. The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue by Daniel Vaughn ($29.99, hardcover, Ecco/Bourdain/Harper Collins)
OK, this isn’t a cookbook at all; there are no recipes. It’s really a food travel book. Vaughn, an Ohio native, is the first-ever barbecue editor for Texas Monthly magazine.
Vaughn grew up in Wooster, and graduated from Wooster High School in 1996. After graduating from Tulane University in New Orleans, he headed to Texas in 2001, where he fell in love with barbecue and eventually left his career as a Dallas architect to follow his passion for smoked meat.
You aren’t likely to find this kind of Texas barbecue locally, but the book is an interesting tour of the Lone Star state through its barbecue shacks.