Andy Schloss and Dave Joachim have created the new standard textbook of grilling with their Mastering the Grill: The Owner’s Manual for Outdoor Cooking.
I so wish I had had this book at the beginning of the summer. Though at least now I can understand why so many things didn’t go the way I had expected, and why those that did turn out well, turned out as well as they did.
Weighing in at a hefty 4 pounds, this substantial book goes into scientific detail of the hows and whys of everything you ever wondered about, and many things you didn’t but should have, concerning the cooking art of grilling. (Harold McGee science geek fans will love it.) The first section of the book is a primer on grill types and how they work, fuel types, the science of heat transfer – conduction, convection and radiant heat – and why that matters with grilling, and the types of grilling – direct, indirect, in the coals, rotisserie, barbecuing, and even cooking on a plank.
My favorite chapter has to be the one devoted to ingredients. Andy and Dave explain what the different cuts of beef, lamb, and pork are, where they are located on the animal, and why that is important for the type of cooking and grilling you would do with them. Visualizing where the cut is on the animal, and knowing what the muscles are used for, helps one understand why you would slow cook a chuck roast or quickly sear a flank steak. There are sections, just as detailed, for what you need to know about grilling seafood, poultry, veggies and fruit, dough, and even cheese.
Mastering the Grill includes over 300 recipes, each including instructions for gas, charcoal and wood burning grills. Most of the recipes are beautifully photographed.
I recently attended a grilling workshop in Napa, given by the authors of this book. My cooking co-partners Deb and her husband Alex (she of the fabulous Smitten Kitchen blog) personally cooked several of the book’s recipes during the course of our weekend workshop, including Tuscan roast chicken, barbecued balsamic pears, Cumin-crusted whole sea bass, Cajun citrus ribs, and cheese stuffed garlic burgers. (Deb has a great write-up of the weekend with pics here and here.)
Grill masters Andy and Dave
By the way, publishers often send me books to review. That was not the case with this book. I paid for the $275 workshop (a bargain at that price, if you ever have a chance to take a cooking class from either of these gentlemen, take it!) which included the book. This is just the best book I’ve seen to date on the subject of grilling. I highly recommend it.