Michael Symon’s Playing with Fire

Michael Symon and Douglas Trattner. Clarkson Potter, $30 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8041-8658-2
The Chew cohost Symon, via his restaurant Mabel’s BBQ and this, his first live-fire cookbook, lays claim to ownership of Cleveland-style barbecue. Hallmarks include smoke from the wood of fruit trees that are abundant in northeast Ohio, specifically apple and cherry, as well as spices and meats that reflect the city’s Eastern European heritage. Also, there is the crucial ingredient of time: Pastrami is brined for four days and smoked for 12 hours. Pork belly is cured for a week and smoked for about three hours before being sliced into slabs of bacon. Poultry is faster but requires additional props: Symon’s chickens are hung from a string in a fireplace, spatchcocked and weighed down with bricks, covered in hay, or mounted on a partially full beer can atop a grill. Seafood options range from smoked sturgeon to grilled walleye wrapped in corn husks. With just 42 main-dish recipes spread across the first 167 pages, the gaps are filled with an overabundance of “pitmaster profiles,” in which barbecue chefs from across the country are briefly interviewed and their own eateries promoted. Meanwhile, Ed Anderson’s color photography of savory cuts encrusted with dry rub or slathered with sauce is nearly enough to make Cleveland synonymous with mouthwatering. This is an excellent guide to live-fire cooking. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/15/2018
Release date: 04/10/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 240 pages - 978-0-525-57636-5
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