Fans of outdoor cooking know that where theres smoke, there are always books.
Books on outdoor cooking are hot. This year has brought a particularly big stack, with new entries from both familiar names and first-timers.
As a serious fan of grilling and barbecue, Im always excited by outdoor-cooking books. When I crack the cover on a new one, Im hoping to find something new an idea, a tip or a recipe I havent considered and something to inspire me, something that makes me want to do something more challenging than grill chicken and a couple of burgers.
A number of new books did that well, with just a couple of lame entries. After smoking them over, I spotted a few trends:
• New attention to less familiar meat cuts, particularly skirt steaks and tri-tip roasts. Both can be bargains if you know a few tricks to cooking them.
• Flavored brines. Brining meat isnt just about salt and water anymore. Several books use flavored versions before the food is grilled.
• Wood is branching out. Its not just about hickory anymore. Woods like alder, apple and cherry are getting popular. Look for chips and chunks in hardware stores that stock grilling equipment.
• More overlap between grilling and barbecue. Books on barbecue are addressing backyard grillers, and grilling books are including more challenging barbecue projects.
If youre looking to fill a shelf, here are this years biggest entries:
Webers New Real Grilling, by Jamie Purviance (Sunset/Weber, $24.95).
The maker of the famed kettle grill has always had a strong interest in making sure you use it. This years book has lots of pictures and new techniques like grill-braising, or a combination of searing and simmering on the grill. There are good sections on the grill toys, like woks and pizza stones (all sold by Weber-Stephens, of course).
Recipes: Twists on popular things, like Cheeseburgers With Mango-Chile Salsa and Coffee-Rubbed Rib Eyes With Stout Glaze.
The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide From Bon Appetit, edited by Adam Rapoport (Andrews McMeel, $45).
The biggest and prettiest entry, with loads of pictures and 13 chapters covering everything from grill prep to drinks and sauces. Even flatbreads & pizzas gets a chapter. It gives equal time to gas and charcoal.
Recipes: If its trendy, from the Greek vinaigrette ladolemono to tacos al pastor, its in here. This is where youll find those flavored brines.
The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen Grilling Cookbook, from the editors of Good Housekeeping (Hearst Books, $29.95).
Its less flashy and more practical, with ring binders and wipe-off covers. And like all Good Housekeeping projects, its well-tested, with lots of tips and pictures.
Recipes: Family-friendly, with guest recipes from celebrity chefs like Bobby Deen and Bobby Flay.
Where Theres Smoke: Simple, Sustainable, Delicious Grilling, by Barton Seaver (Sterling Epicure, $30).
Seaver is a young chef who is equally passionate about organics and grilling. His book is a combination of cutting-edge ideas, like using flavored salts to pair wines with grilled food, and simpler, fun things like grilling broccoli and working with pasture-raised meat. This is a fun book thats almost compulsively cookable.
Recipes: Range from simple (flank steak) to innovative (grilled cauliflower with Parmesan and mint) to flavored oils and salts.
All Fired Up: Smokin Hot BBQ Secrets From the Souths Best Pitmasters, from Troy Black and the editors of Southern Living (Oxmoor House, $24.95).
Is it a barbecue book with a little grilling, or a grilling book with barbecue? The cover promises barbecuing, brining, grilling and smoking, and the pictures are all about pit barbecue. One failing: It has great pictures of famous barbecue joints, but no captions to tell you which is which. Pity.
Recipes: Many dont have anything to do with low/slow barbecue but are good ideas for backyard grillers, like Grilled Rosemary Lemonade and grilled chicken with a guava glaze.
100 Grilling Recipes You Cant Live Without, by Cheryl and Bill Jamison (Harvard Common Press, $16.95).
The Jamisons are royalty in outdoor cooking, with a raft of credits and bylines. They also have strong opinions, like never covering your grill or using wood chunks. Whether you agree or not, they have enough cool recipes to keep you playing for years.
Recipes: Eclectic and international, like Cuban-style Pork Tenderloin and Asparagus With Lemon-Bacon Vinaigrette.
Barbecue Crossroads: Notes & Recipes From a Southern Odyssey, by Robb Walsh (University of Texas Press, $24.95).
Its mostly a tale about crossing the South in search of barbecue, and sometimes it feels like an expanded, although well-written, magazine article. The best sections (naturally) are about visiting barbecue joints in the Carolinas.
Recipes: Walsh collected plenty of desserts, sides and barbecue sauces, but the book is really about the pictures and the journey.
Americas Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards, by Ardie Davis and Paul Kirk (Andrews McMeel, $19.99).
Davis and Kirk are famous in the Kansas City-based barbecue competition world. These are recipes they collected from people at barbecue contests. This is a simple paperback that begs for drips and smears.
Recipes: People who compete at the big barbecue events are crazy for cooking (and sometimes just plain crazy). If you can cook it over coals, theyve tried it, from bacon-wrapped jalapenos to shrimp tacos.
Everyday Barbecue, by Myron Mixon (Ballantine, $24).
Ah, Myron. The judge of the TV show BBQ Pitmasters doesnt hesitate to crown himself the winningest man in barbecue the baddest pitmaster that ever was. Take away the bull, and this is a small but handy book with basic recipes.
Recipes: Mostly simple cookout favorites, although there are unusual chapters like barbecue fried (things that involve grilling and frying) and leftovers (things to make with leftover beef or pork barbecue).
Bobby Flays Barbecue Addiction, by Bobby Flay (Clarkson Potter, $35).
After 11 books, five specifically on grilling, theres not much surprise left. The recipes are international and more sophisticated, but the fire of inspiration is starting to go out.
Recipes: International in a non-threatening way, like Venezuelan Guacamole, Grilled Naan and Peruvian Chicken With Aji Verde.
To see printable versions of the recipes, click on the links below:
MARINATE the pork from 3 to 24 hours ahead: Combine the orange and lime juice, olive oil, parsley, oregano, salt and garlic. Set aside about a third as the sauce. Place the tenderloins in a resealable plastic bag and pour the remaining marinade over them. Seal the bag and refrigerate.
DRAIN the pork, discarding the marinade, and blot the pork dry with a paper towel. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
PREPARE a grill with a two-level fire, a hotter side with more coals for high heat and a medium side with fewer coals. Place the tenderloins on the grill so the thinner end is angled away from the hottest part of the fire. Grill for 3 minutes, rolling to sear pork on all sides. Move to medium heat and cook for 10 to 12 minutes for thinner tenderloins (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) and up to 25 minutes for thicker tenderloins (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter). Roll every 4 to 5 minutes to brown evenly. The pork is done when the center reaches 155 to 165 degrees.
CARVE into thin slices and serve hot with the reserved marinade.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.Coffee-Rubbed Rib Eye Steaks With Stout Glaze From “Weber’s New Real Grilling,” by Jamie Purviance (Sunset, $24.95). 1 tablespoon finely ground dark-roast coffee 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar 1 tablespoon paprika 2 teaspoons ground cumin 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 4 rib eye steaks, about 12 ounces and 1 inch thick Extra-virgin olive oil Glaze: 2 tablespoons minced shallot 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed 1 cup low-sodium beef broth 1/2 cup stout or porter 1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
COMBINE the coffee, brown sugar, paprika, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Lightly brush both sides of the steak with oil, then sprinkle evenly with the rub, gently pressing into the meat. Let the meat stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes.
PREPARE grill for direct grilling over hot coals. Make the glaze while the grill is heating: Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the shallot and garlic and saute until tender but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining glaze ingredients, bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half and the consistency of maple syrup, 15 to 20 minutes. Keep warm.
GRILL the steaks over direct heat, with the lid closed, until cooked to desired doneness, 6 to 8 minutes for medium rare, turning once or twice. Remove from grill and let stand 3 to 5 minutes. Serve warm with the glaze.
Yield: 4 servings.Corn With Hoisin-Orange Butter From “The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appetit,” edited by Adam Rapoport (Andrews McMeel, $45). 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce 2 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest 3/4 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic sauce (see note) Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper Vegetable oil, for brushing 6 ears of white corn, husked Chopped fresh cilantro (optional; garnish)
MIX butter, hoisin, orange zest, chili-garlic sauce and salt and pepper in a small bowl, blending well. (It may look curdled if the butter isn’t very soft, but that’s fine.)
BUILD a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Brush corn with oil and grill, turning occasionally, until beginning to soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Brush all over with the flavored butter and continue to grill, brushing occasionally with more butter and turning, until corn is tender and charred in spots, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter and brush with more hoisin butter. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving, if desired.
Yield: 6 servings.
NOTE: Asian chili-garlic sauce is available in Asian markets or in the international section of well-stocked supermarkets.