We’ve suffered long enough! No more shall you be forced to cook in your kitchen. For spring has arrived. Mostly at least. Still have to get some ice off the lakes but we can’t have it all can we? So let’s talk about dusting off the grill in case you didn’t on that one 70 degree day a few weeks ago but that’s a pretty narrow window. We digress.
This year, when you fire up the charcoal (or gas), maybe it’s time to step up from the usual burgers and steaks, not that there’s anything wrong with that. There are several really good resources for getting some amazing food results when you cook outside. Really, that’s what spring/summer is all about in the upper Midwest. Taking advantage of the good weather and cooking up some amazing food! Light a match. We’re hungry. Here are Dara’s Top 5 Grilling Cookbooks!
“Great Meat Cookbook” by, Bruce Aidells
Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
First, just look at that cover. Sure you could throw a steak down on the grill. But how about a “Flinstone” sized slab of bone-in ribeye? I mean, why would you not? Bruce Aidell may be a familiar name if you’ve seen and sampled some of his terrific chicken sausages hanging out at your local grocery store. This book is a meat-lovers dream and a great compliment to throwing down on the grill. It’ll also help you distinguish between the many varieties of meat out there (grass-fed, organic, antibiotic free, etc). Plus, it’s just a fun read beyond the recipes. You’ll enjoy making these pages part of your grilling repertoire.
“The Barbecue! Bible”, by Steven Raichlen
Workman Publishing Company
The word “Bible” is just thrown around too much when it comes to essential reading. But in this case, we think it fits. He’s the author of several grilling books now and you may have seen Steven Raichlen on his PBS show “Primal Grill. But if you take your grilling really seriously, you should check out “The Barbecue! Bible” which has now been out for over a decade and contains over 500 recipes. Steven traveled the globe in search of grilling recipes, techniques and ideas and takes those to your backyard. He comes armed with great tips on how something that seems too exotic at first can work for you. It is endless in the ways you can make a mundane meal into an adventure. You won’t run out of ideas for making the neighbors jealous!
“The Japanese Grill” by, Tadashi Ono
10 Speed Press
From Benihana to Ichiban and countless “Hibachi” style restaurants around the country, most people are at least somewhat familiar with Japanese-style grilling. Chef Tadashi Ono along with writer Harris Salat are both avid grillers and they bring you a book full of Japanese ideas for your grill. There are a number of Japanese-style ingredients, such as soy sauce and miso, that translate perfectly to the outdoor, fire kissed cooking of the grill. You’ll find traditional recipes such as Yakatori, a skewered and grilled chicken, Yaki Onigiri which is grilled rice balls and even salt-packed whole fish. It’s also chock full of simple and delicious marinades and recipes for your normal choices on the grill so you can bring different flavors to dinner on your patio.
“Cooking Freshwater Fish”, by Lucia Watson
Lucia Watson is a name familiar to Twin Cities diners. She’s run her restaurant, Lucia’s, in Uptown for almost three decades. Her food is beloved and her customers loyal and for good reason. Here, she shares her love of freshwater fish and in a land of 10,000 lakes, that’s a perfectly good idea. Not so much a grilling book as a basic book of recipes and ideas, Lucia takes her experiences of being a former Boundary Waters guide and cooking fresh fish over an open flame from her table to yours. You’ll also get tips on what to do with different fish species, cleaning them and even how to catch them! A great resource for Minnesotans who love the outdoors.
“Wood-Fired Cooking”, by Mary Karlin
10 Speed Press
Cooking over an open flame is such a primal experience. It can be just as rewarding (maybe more so?) than the food itself. Next time your grill is full of food and the smoke and smell is wafting through the yard, watch how many people just come over and stare at it. Seriously, it’s sort of intoxicating. Mary Karlin’s book “Wood Fired Cooking” takes that primal feeling and infuses it with knowledge. From recipes to equipment to the properties of different types of wood (Red Oak for beef and fish for example), you’ll find everything you need to keep the fires burning. It’s globally inspired. You’ll find recipes from Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, American, and North African cuisines as well as contributions from a number of chefs. You’ll even get a chance to take on (gasp!!!) wood fired desserts like an apricot tart with lavender crème anglaise. What we love about this book is it runs the gamut from easy to very complex choices that can challenge any at-home chef. Fire it up people!