For the edification of those barbecue virgins, I should explain that the Weber in question is the manufacturer of the celebrated dome-lidded barbecue which is considered by many to be one of the best. Jamie Purviance has sufficient confidence to ally himself to that grill by penning Weber’s Complete Barbecue Book, which bears both his and its name on the spine. My British reader might not recognise his name but Jamie is considered to be an authority on barbecuing on the other side of the Pond. Not a bad accolade when one considers that America has barbecuing as a national pastime.
This is a hefty tome which will support even the grilling novice through many successful alfresco dining experiences. Jamie does not assume you know anything about either barbecuing or regular cooking. He introduces you to lighting your barbecue, every food preparation technique, temperatures for safe cooking and even recipes for sauces and rubs. In short this is a one-stop barbecue manual.
You can have confidence in this cookbook. It contains over 150 recipes which have been triple-tested. That’s reassuring for those of us who have too often been confronted with those “it doesn’t look like that in the book” moments. There are 100 step-by-step photographs to steer you in the direction of well cooked and attractively presented food.
I was drawn to the back of the book for some indispensible charts giving cooking times and temperatures. These give you at-a-glance information to ensure that the chicken is cooked through to the bone and the pork is done but still moist. Vegetables are also included – an underdone potato might not kill you but it will lie like a brick for an eternity.
My favourite fish recipe from this worthy collection is Grilled Fish in a Caribbean Marinade. Its title is vague because the recipe works well with a number of different fish such as sea bass, cod, halibut or even large prawns or scallops. An ideal recipe for a crowd who might well have diverse piscatorial preferences. Simple to prepare but guaranteed to please.
Poultry is a chancy item at a barbecue. It can be bland and uninteresting or dry and unappetising. Jamie’s recipes offer grilled chicken and turkey with taste and texture, without breaking the bank. Poultry can be found at reasonable prices but we tend to overlook it because we associate barbecue with red meat. South-Western Turkey Burgers might change your mind: they are full of flavour and a bit of a departure from your commercial quarter-pounder – healthier too. Persian Chicken Kebabs need even less preparation but could well constitute the centre-piece of an Eastern barbecue. Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Moroccan Spices would be an equally exotic alternative.
There are those for whom no barbecue is complete without beef. Consider Argentine Beef Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce. It’s hearty, striking and easy to prepare. Steak Sandwiches with Grilled Onions and Creamy Horseradish Sauce will slake any manly appetite. The meat is marinated in red wine, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and seasonings to give a foil to the marvellously spicy horseradish. This steak would work well served with a mixed salad for those with less robust cravings.
Weber’s Complete Barbecue Book must surely be one of the most comprehensive tomes on the subject. The recipes are broad-based and well written. The pictures add much and will give confidence to the novice. The experienced griller will find a wealth of new dishes to try. The warmer weather will soon be with us and I’ll have this book as my companion when I don the apron and gauntlets. This is unbeatable value for money. Highly recommended.
Weber’s Complete Barbecue Book
Author: Jamie Purviance
Published by: Hamlyn, Octopus Books
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018