We don’t have months and months of good weather in Britain so we make the best of it when the sun does shine: DIY centres are targeted by those looking for charcoal, butchers are full of hunters of the great British banger or the ubiquitous burger, and fire stations are on alert. But there must surely be more to a summer barbecue than the usual fare.
Steven Raichlen had penned The Barbecue Bible, which offers over 500 recipes that will elevate your home BBQ efforts into something memorable, more delicious, and probably healthier than your previous efforts. This book gives advice on basic grilling techniques, smoking and even the types of fuel available.
You will likely read those practical paragraphs only one or twice, but the majority of the book concerns itself with the delicious eats. You can pacify the vegetarian members of your family with the news that henceforth they too will enjoy those summer grill parties that have previously been a source of conflict garnished with nothing more for them than a cheese-filled toastie.
There is a good selection of fish and shellfish recipes in this book, as well as chicken, which is so often badly cooked on the barbecue. You’ll need some side dishes and condiments to go with the grilled goods, and they are included, and there are even a few desserts to make use of those still-glowing embers.
The book has a US bias but offers a truly international collection of barbecue recipes and all those other elements that make up a summer al-fresco meal. Meat isn’t cheap so I was particularly looking for recipes that take advantage of ingredients that won’t break the bank. A thoughtful menu could present you with an inexpensive yet impressive entertaining option. You will enjoy this fashion of cooking more often if it’s not a financial burden.
Farmed salmon is still reasonable value and there are some recipes here that hail from both Eastern and Western Europe. Pino’s Grilled Salmon with Basil Cream is an Italian creation taking advantage of that very summery herb. The fish is simply grilled for added flavour and visual impact.
Mackerel is a healthy and economic fish and we should eat more of it. I had considered it to be a quintessentially British fish but there is a Malaysian recipe in this book for grilled mackerel using a spice paste with chilli peppers and lemongrass; ginger adds an unmistakable hint of the exotic East.
Potatoes are cheap and universally popular and there could be nothing easier than cooking them, along with some onions, in the coals. The potatoes could take an hour and the onions a little less time. No need to wrap in foil but remember that the skins will not be edible in that case.
The Barbecue Bible is truly a one-stop grilling manual. Its recipes reflect traditional and simple barbecue fare as well as the more exotic dishes from the Far East, Middle East and Asia – something for every taste and to suit every pocket. A bumper volume.
The Barbecue Bible
Author: Steven Raichlen
Published by: Workman
Price: US $22.95
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018