There are days when breaking out the sauce-stained BBQ Bible are in order, and moments (say, after several beers) when a more right-to-the-point grilling guidebook is required. As the 4th of July tends to fit into the latter category, you might want to add a copy of BBQ 25 to your weekend shopping list.
The new book from Adam Perry Lang, his second on BBQ, is nothing like the first (which was one of those long winded rub vs. sauce diatribes, aptly named Serious BBQ). This book is literally a brief grill-side guide, concise and to the point. And unlike any other grilling book that we've seen.
It's the book design that makes it so difficult to put down (serious kudos for the designer). The pages — the few that there are — are essentially thin pieces of cardboard covered in a glossy finish. In industry-speak, this is known as a board book. Yes, just like the ones you usually find in the toddler section. In a BBQ book, it that means you could literally put the book next to your grill, sauce it up, then simply wipe it off when your ribs are finished. Of course, the recipes need to be worth the effort.
The expected grill suspects are here — pork butt cooked long and slow, pork chops, various steaks, burgers, salmon (and grilled châteaubriand – Lang put in his serious cooking time at Daniel, among other French restaurants). The recipes are approachable and particularly good for a rare to medium-rare level grill.
But it's the little tweaks to the recipes that are most interesting. If you're a seasoned grill master, you probably already know how to spatchcock a chicken (a fancy name for a whole chicken that is butterflied) so it cooks more evenly on the grill. But do you brine your chicken in thyme and garlic-infused water for 24 hours before hand? Lang says it “produces maximum impact in a shorter period of time.” (Notably not in the recipe, as there's no room in this book for individual elaboration, but in the introductory glossary of techniques). Still, it sounds like a pretty good idea to us.
Lang suggests the same process for hot dogs, only here, he simmers them in equal parts water and beer (2 cups water, 2 cups beer, 2 Tbl. butter, 2 Tbls. kosher salt, 1 Tbl. freshly ground pepper) for 10 to 15 minutes before tossing them on the grill. Then he adds 1 cup of the broth to 2 pounds of drained sauerkraut along with a mixture of fried bacon, onions, garlic, fresh thyme, cumin seeds, pepper and fresh parsley. Now that we may have to try this weekend.