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Perfect barbecuing

The secret to successful barbecuing is combining cooking technique, style, flavoring, and best ingredients with the "special" touches each chef adds.

25 essentials : techniques for grilling
Ardie A. Davis.
Boston, Mass. : Harvard Common Press, c2009.
Barbecue expert Davis shows how to master the perfect burger, grill on a plank, cook a whole fish, and much more. With this book's full-color photos and recipes, learning to grill has never been so delicious.
     
Emeril at the grill : a cookbook for all seasons
Emeril Lagasse ; with photography by Steven Freeman.
New York, NY : Harperstudio, c2009.
If you know Emeril, you know that he always takes cooking to the next level. And when it comes to grilling, that means that instead of hamburgers he's making Pork and Chorizo Burgers with Green Chile Mayo. Instead of corn on the cob, he's got Grilled Corn with Cheese and Chile. Anyone can grill a chicken, but only Emeril would come up with Northern Italian-Style Chicken Under a Brick (yes-a brick!). And while we all love peach pie, how about Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone and Honey? You've never grilled like this before.The 158 recipes in this book are easy, fast, and make every meal a party. And why should grilling happen only in the summer? Emeril at the Grill is full of techniques for both indoor and outdoor cooking, so you can keep the party going all year round. From drinks (Watermelon Margaritas) to meats (Grilled Marinated Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, anyone?), from salads (Watercress, Avocado, and Mango Salad) to desserts (ever grill a banana split?), this is a grilling book like no other.
     
The big book of barbecue side dishes : over 125 recipes
Rick Browne.
Portland, Me. : Sellers Pub., 2009, c2006.
Rick Browne, host of the PBS series Barbecue America, knows barbecue and has traveled the world in search of the best barbecue available. He thoroughly understands the pleasure of barbecue's accompanying side dishes and supplies readers with 130 recipes, each chosen to perfectly complement any barbecue main dish. What would a barbecue or picnic be without crisp salads, savory beans, irresistible grilled breads, bowls of al dente pasta, flavorful fruits, and fresh garden veggies - all done up either right over hot coals or in the kitchen. Rick Browne's new and improved book is all you need to enjoy a complete and scrumptious feast.
     
Seven fires : grilling the Argentine way
Francis Mallmann, with Peter Kaminsky.
New York : Artisan, 2009.
Gloriously inspired recipes push the boundaries of live-fired cuisine, in this primal yet sophisticated cookbook introducing the incendiary dishes of South America's biggest culinary star: Chef Francis Mallmann.
     
Serious barbecue : smoke, char, baste, and brush your way to great outdoor cooking
Adam Perry Lang, with J.J. Goode and Amy Vogler ; photographs by David Loftus.
New York, N.Y. : Hyperion Books, 2009.
Lang trained with the world's best chefs before giving up the fancy kitchen for the thrill of cooking with just meat and fire. Now, he's on a mission to turn everyone into an expert. "Serious Barbecue" will have amateur and expert cooks enjoying perfect results every time.
     

The chosen food to cook is placed on a rack over heat. As the meat is grilled, fat and cooking juices are released. These drip over the heat source and then smoke rises up and flavors the food.

Heat sources used for barbecues may vary. Gas barbecue grills run on either propane or natural gas. Charcoal grills use briquettes are made from particles of waste wood processed into charcoal. Some charcoals are now sold as self lighting, meaning that they have a lighter fluid already added. Many chefs believe self lighting charcoal leaves an unpleasant taste in the food so they will not use it for barbequing.

Regardless of heat source used, it is important that the proper cooking temperature be used. Gas grills heat up quickly; charcoal grills can take over 30 minutes for the coals to reach the perfect barbecuing temperature. For grilling thinner pieces of meat, cook at high temperature and fast over direct heat. For roasts and other thicker cut meats, along with many vegetables, use indirect heat (not directly over the coals). That allows the inside to cook to the desired doneness without drying out.

Barbecuing Tips

Do not leave raw food outside in the sun.

Brush the cooking rack with oil before cooking to prevent food from sticking.

Soak wooden skewers in water before using.

Leave space between food on skewers so that it can cook through thoroughly.

Baste food with a sugary glaze during the last 10 minutes to pervent burning.

Have a spray bottle of water handy to put out any flames as they appear.

Barbecue tips

Adding flavorings to the fire can give you meat a distinctive flavor. Several options could include:

  • Dry twigs from fruit trees.
  • Leaves of fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or bay.
  • Almond, walnut, and hazelnut shells that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes.
  • Soaked dried seaweed (when cooking fish and shellfish).
  • Hickory, mesquite or oak wood chips soaked in cold water for 30 minutes before using.

Marinades, which are oil-based mixtures used to flavor and tenderize meats prior to cooking, help keep them moist while cooking.

All in all, barbecuing should be a fun experience with a great tasting meal as a result. If you want the perfect BBQ--practice, practice, practice. Each grill cooks differently and each type of food needs different preparation. Long before your barbecue make each dish so you can be ready with the best ingredients, technique, and most of all the 'special' touches that make it the 'Perfect BBQ.'

More about barbecuing

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff