Book Review: 100 Grilling Recipes You Can't Live Without
by Cheryl & Bill Jamison
Reviewed by Karen Miles
Authors Cheryl and Bill Jamison are no novice cooks. They've won the James Beard Cookbook Award four times and have previously published six books on grilling. And while the title of this book is a bit of an overstatement, the fact that it's a reflection of their own—well-honed—preferences certainly makes it valuable! They've chosen 100 recipes because they figure that’s how many grilled dinners they cook (and you might cook, if you're an avid grill fan) in a typical year.
If you want to learn about grilling, this is your book. "The goal in grilling is to intensify the natural flavor of food through the chemical process of high-heat browning (known in scientific circles as the Maillard reaction)," they explain. "The fire must be hot enough to shrink the muscle fibers on the surface, which concentrates the flavor, but not so hot that it burns or chars the outside before adequately cooking on the inside." There's no shortage of inspiration, either. "When you get it right, the result is a robust amplification of the food's natural flavor along with a scrumptious textural contrast between the crusted surface and the succulent interior." The book is peppered with tips and tricks for successful grilling, too, such as a page on "Pizza Pointers for the Grill" and directions for making flavoring pastes from seasonings.
And just in case you think grilling is primarily for your main dish meats, take a look at the sections of the book: Happy-Hour Grazing (including Goat Cheese Wrapped in Grape Leaves); Party-Time Pizzas (such as Pecorino Pizza with Artichokes); Blazing Burgers and Haute Dogs (including Caribbean Curry Burgers); Fajitas, Tacos, and other Southwestern Classics (think Flame-Kissed Chile Rellenos); Sizzling Steaks, Chops, and Ribs (A Porterhouse from Heaven); Chicken, Duck, and Quail (such as Grilled Duck Breasts with Armagnac and Lavender Honey); Spit-Roasted Poultry and Meat (Leg of Lamb with Mint Julep Sauce); Fired-Up Fish (Tangerine-Teriyaki Halibut Fillets); Succulent Shellfish (Mimosa-Basted Lobster); Vegetable and Main Side Dishes (Glistening Eggplant with Fresh Tomato Relish); and S'Mores and More for Dessert (Crunchy Caramelized Pears, anyone?).
There aren't pictures, except the few on the cover. And usually that's a real negative for me. But no matter here. The descriptions and the directions are explicit and straightforward enough that I had no trouble imagining each dish in all its grilled glory. If you're an enthusiastic griller, this book will keep you busy for a year. If it takes you longer, well, then, it's an even better investment!
Still not sure? Here are three recipes from 100 Grilling Recipes You Can't Live Without for you to try: