It’s time. This is the summer to up your grilling game. You’ve been cooking the same burgers, chicken, and ribs on the flames for years. Sure, you’ve added a few new spices to the meat; you’ve even tweaked your technique, like discovering indirect cooking.
But now you’ve become complacent, and are looking to get creative.
Let’s start, simply, with marinades, sauces, and relishes. Look no further than Bobby Flay, and his Barbecue Addiction (Clarkson Potter). Your basic hot dog is elevated by spooning on his onion sauce (ketchup-based with ancho chili powder and cinnamon) and his red pepper relish. Or try marinating your pork tenderloin with coconut, lime, and ginger, then topping it with a green onion and peanut relish.
For sustainable eating—especially seafood—dig into Barton Seaver’s Where There’s Smoke: Simple, Sustainable, Delicious Grilling (Sterling Epicure). Here he presents charts on how to grill seafood and shellfish, such as a grilled Spanish mackerel (an often overlooked fish), which he tops with a sauce of shallots, oranges, and tarragon.
In The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appétit (Andrews McMeel), editor Adam Rapoport includes a little of everything—well, actually a lot in this excellent grill-top reference. With sauces included, he offers over two dozen variations on a burger. But the vegetables, pizza, and flatbreads are stunning and simple: a Mexican grilled corn, with cotija cheese; grilled halloumi cheese with watermelon and basil-mint oil; or a pizza made with goat cheese, Merguez sausage, and figs.
Now, to really up that game—and if you have the space and need an excuse to buy some new grilling equipment—check out Michale Chiarello’s Live Fire (Chronicle). Here, Chiarello lays out the tools you’ll need, such as a hot box to roast an entire suckling pig or enough chickens for 20 people (cooked simply with bay leaves, lemon, and a coffee BBQ sauce), or an iron cross, which he uses to roast an entire lamb over an open pit (he serves it with a mint pesto and chile-fennel tzatziki).
But don’t limit yourself just to those books. This season there are plenty of other grilling books to choose from:
Barbeque Crossroads: Notes & Recipes from a Southern Odyssey by Robb Walsh (Univ. of Texas)
The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey through Texas Barbeque by Daniel Vaughn (Ecco/HarperCollins)
100 Grilling Recipes You Can’t Live Without by Cheryl and Bill Jamison (Harvard Common)
Fabulicious! On the Grill: Teresa’s Smoking Hot Backyard Recipes by Teresa Giudice (Running Press)