Today’s Five for Friday is a mini book review that should be on the shelves of grilling and outdoor cooking enthusiasts everywhere. I’ll outline five reasons why you should go out and purchase Grill to Perfection, and I’ll tell you how you can win your own copy!
The Authors Know a Thing or 2 ABOUT BBQ and Grilling
Two of the authors — Andy Husbands and Chris Hart — are members of the New England powerhouse BBQ team iQUE. Andy, the owner & chef of Tremont 647, was a James Beard “Best Chef” semi-finalist and competed on season 6 of Hell’s Kitchen. Chris was a contestant on Food Network’s Best in Smoke and also cooked an elaborate BBQ tasting dinner at the James Beard House.
The third author — Andrea Pyenson — is certainly no slouch to the food writing scene. She has partnered with Chris and Andy on their previous two books (Wicked Good Barbecue and Wicked Good Burgers), and her decade-long experience in writing about food and travel has seen her work appear in various publications such as the Boston Globe and Washington Post.
Unique Recipe Organization
While many cookbooks organize their recipes into what they are used for (appetizers, soups, salads, etc.), Grill to Perfection takes a different approach. In the introduction, the authors lay out various methods for building a charcoal fire (low/medium/hot direct and two-zone), then they devote sections of the book to recipes using those methods. Recipes within each of those sections are then broken down by their usage (appetizers, soups, salads, etc.). It’s a unique way to approach recipe organization.
Gorgeous Food Photos
Recipes are always nice. But having photos of the finished prepared recipe just add that extra vision. Grill to Perfection does not disappoint, with vivid photography that abounds throughout the book. Each master recipe comes with an accompanying photo. I’ve caught myself having to wipe up drool after looking through this cook — the pictures are just that mouth-watering! Just look at this picture of the slow-cooked chicken thighs with Alabama white sauce below (used with permission).
Meticulous Approach with Flavor Whimsy
The approach that the authors take in the recipes is borderline scientific. They offer up not only precise instructions, but they also present various cues to know when it’s time to move on to the next step in the recipe. Although the recipes may be borderline scientific, the flavor combinations certainly are not. Chris, Andy, and Andrea do a great job of reinventing traditional flavor profiles and stepping outside of the box, challenging readers to take their taste buds on a wild ride!
Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers
Say no more! I know I’ll be cooking these in the very near future!
- 1 cup/240 mL water
- ½ cup/90 g brown sugar
- 1 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced
- 2 pieces star anise
- 1 two-inch/5 cm cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoons/10 mL coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- 2 teaspoons/10mL red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup/60mL soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons/30 mL fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons/30 mL white vinegar
- 1 pound/450g pork belly, skin removed, cut into 1"/2.5 cm-square slices, each ¼"/6 mm thick
- 10 scallions, thick white part cut into 1"/2.5cm-pieces
- In a small saucepan over high heat, bring to boil the water, brown sugar, lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon stick, coriander and red pepper flakes. Boil for 30 seconds, then remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until completely cool, about 2 hours. Add the soy and fish sauces and vinegar.
- Place the pork belly chunks in the marinade for at least 4 and up to 24 hours.
- Thread the pork belly and scallion alternately, starting with pork belly (scallion should be perpendicular to the skewers). Each skewer should have 3 pieces of pork and 2 scallions.
- Build a low direct fire. Spread an even layer of unlit charcoal in the bottom of the grill. Fill a chimney one-third full with charcoal. Stuff two sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney and light it. When the coals are fully engaged – you should see flames peeking over the top – pour them over the unlit charcoal. If using a gas grill, light the gas and adjust the temperature on both sides to low.
- When you can hold your hands over the fire for no more than 8-10 seconds, clean the grill grate. Place the skewers directly over the fire, with the exposed wooden ends pointing the edge of the grill, and grill for 30-45 seconds, until the meat starts to brown. Flip skewers over and repeat. Continue this process for about 4 minutes, until the meat is dark brown, almost black in some areas.
- Serve hot, and make sure you get one for yourself. These will not last long.
This book is great and is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other book retailers. But I’m going to give you the chance to win your own copy! Just leave a comment below. Simple as that. I’ll pick one commenter at random to win a copy of this book!
(NOTE: You’ll have 48 hours from when I contact you to claim your prize. Otherwise, I will pick another entry.)
(EDIT: Since I failed to put a date on here as to when the contest will end, I’m extending it through this weekend. Winner will be determined Monday morning at 9:00am EST.)