Sometimes a reading a cookbook leaves my mouth watering and that’s exactly what Grill to Perfection by champion pit masters Andy Husbands and Chris Hart does. The cookbook, which offers easy-to-understand grilling tips and techniques, gives would-be grillers tantalizing recipes for slow, medium, and hot fire grilling that’ll take your summertime cooking to a whole new level.
When I first explored Grill to Perfection, I was surprised how small the tips and techniques section was—a mere seven pages. However, after reading through and studying this portion of the book, I realized the authors’ genius: demystifying grilling and making it approachable for anyone.
Husbands and Hart explain the four methods of grilling: low direct, medium direct, hot direct and two-zone fire. Each method, they explain, works for different foods and recipes. While the authors favor charcoal grilling, they also explain how gas grillers can achieve the same fire. And, best of all, they make it easy-to-understand and easy-to-do.
Recipes by Fire Temp
Husbands and Hart follow the how-to section with recipes divided by types of fire. For instance, the Hot Grill section offers recipes that benefit from fast searing like steaks and pork belly. However, the recipes not tired and traditional. There’s Tamari-Glazed Steak with Sweet and Spicy Rice; Lamb T-bones with Mint Pistou; Grilled Shrimp, Romaine and Radicchio Salad, and more. I love that the authors give readers not only recipes for entrées, but also for sides like Curried Slaw, Glazed Sweet Potatoes, and Charred Spring Vegetables to make a complete meal.
The Medium Direct Grilling recipes are all about roasting food for flavor. In this section, you’ll find delights like Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Bruschetta and Pork Butter Spread and Tuna Carpaccio with Grilled Vegetable Vinaigrette. It’s also the section that finally taught me how to grill oysters without spilling all that delicious, briny oyster liquor.
Low Direct Grilling involves less heat and longer cooking to ensure foods develop an exterior crust or sear and are cooked through. This method is terrific for the authors’ recipes like Slow-Grilled Chicken Thighs that give the meat a crispy exterior and juicy, tender interior. The Narragansett Pizza we tried was so good our guests demanded the recipe, and it’s caused grilled pizza to be the standard pizza cooking method around the realfoodtraveler.com offices.
Chapter 4, Grilling Two Ways: Hybrid Two-Zone Grilling, is for more advanced grillers. This method involves using your grill as both a grill and an oven. Originally, I thought the recipe for Backyard Clambake on Your Grill was going to be difficult. While it involved many steps, including par-cooking some items on the stove, the authors give such explicit, step-by-step instructions, creating a succulently delicious clam, mussel, sausage, corn and potato baked was a snap.
This section, as well as the others, also offers recipes for using the grill to make appetizers. Coming up with appetizers beyond cheese and crackers or chips and dip is always a challenge for me. The appetizers in Grill to Perfection like Lacquered Pork Belly with Dijon and Soy, Grilled Chicken Wings with Agave and Creole Spices; and Thai-flavored Pork Belly Skewers are going to make me a hero at my next grill party.
I also like the fact that they authors give plenty of recipes that use cast iron pans on the grill. I love my old cast iron cookware and being able to utilize it on the grill is heaven. Recipes like Cast Iron Potato Gallette and Grilled Corn on the Cob with Miso Butter mean my favorite pans are going to get even more of a workout this summer.
The final recipe section of the book, Grill It Slow and Low is all about two-zone cooking, creating a space on the grill for direct heat and for indirect or radiant heat. This enables grillers to successfully cook tougher cuts of meat like brisket without using specialized equipment or expensive smokers. This section also has a terrific photo how-to section for one of my favorite cuts of meat, boneless leg of lamb. Using the authors’ slow fire technique, my lamb now has both the crust I love and the juicy interior without being burned-to-a-crisp from a too-hot fire. This section also offers an easy-to-understand section about roasting brined turkey on the grill, something we’re definitely trying this season.
The authors end the book with a helpful section on resources—where to find grills and equipment from gloves to thermometers in all price ranges.
Real Bottom Line: I love a cookbook that teaches me and Grill to Perfection does just that. After reading and studying this book and trying a number of the easy-to-use techniques and recipes, my grilling has definitely moved up a notch and your’s will too. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor