cover image La Parilla: The Mexican Grill

La Parilla: The Mexican Grill

Reed Hearon. Chronicle Books, $19.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1034-0

Hearon, chef-owner of the Bay Area's Restaurant Lulu and Cafe Marimba, takes a deceptively simple subject, plumbs its depths and comes up with great, earthy, satisfying fare. With tacos and burritos blur in the distance, Hearon tempts Nortenos to Pork Ribs with Tamarind Recado; Grilled Whole Lobster (parboiled and split before grilling, served with garlic-infused melted butter mixed with olive oil and lime juice); Spicy Quail with Green Chorizo (sausage flavored with pumpkin seeds, epazote and jalapeno); and Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Rub and Lime. The chapters on techniques and equipment will help even beginners get the fire started, while those on recados--spicy rubs-cum-marinades used on most of the meats to keep them moist--and salsas will spark the imaginations of barbecue veterans. Salsas and recados range from the familiar Pico de Gallo to the uncommon Mint Recado and Pumpkin Seed Salsa. A chapter on ""fiesta dishes,"" special holiday meals to serve a crowd, suggests adventuresome choices like Leg of Lamb in Maguey Cactus Leaves. Hearon offers logical substitutes (lamb for goat and banana leaves for harder-to-find maguey cactus leaves), making this vibrant book, with photos by Laurie Smith, a source of fun and excitement without frustration. (July)