Kitchen Call: The all-American grill

Linda Bassett

Opening weekend: backyard barbecue. Get out the steel wool. Scrub down the grill rack, the barbecue tools. Strike up the charcoal. Add hot dogs, burgers. Bring on a big bowl of classic potato salad. Cover the table with a checkered cloth, stack up the paper napkins. It’s the first cookout of the season! Keep it simple, pure, traditional.

Fast forward to future weekends. After a few delicious repetitions the cook will need to step up to the rest of the outdoor cooking season. To the rescue: a hot-off-the-press copy of “300 Big & Bold Barbecue & Grilling Recipes” by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig will open new vistas in outdoor cooking. Officially trademarked “The BBQ Queens,” these two ladies moved in on the men’s fire and fresh air routine authoring numerous articles and books on the subject. This time, they turn to the global pantry for new inspiration.

“The key to delicious results is building the bold flavor before, during, and after barbecuing,” say the authors. “For example, if you want your rib eye steak to have a blackened exterior and a rare interior, you need a good rub on your steak, a hot fire in close proximity to your meat, and a short cooking time.”

Adler and Fertig share tips and techniques for the grill, the barbecue and the smoker. The authors detail the processes of grilling, smoking, planking and spit roasting, as well as some special techniques such as herb grilling and leaf wrapping. Another section discusses equipment. Plenty of recipes for rubs and bastes, marinades and brines; bastes and glazes got my attention.

Along with all time backyard favorites such as pulled pork and barbecue spareribs, exotic flavors such as Moroccan Chicken with Apricot and Pistachio Couscous; Balinese Shrimp Satay on Lemongrass Stalks; Herbes de Provence Wood-Grilled Rabbit; and Vietnamese Grilled Beef Skewers find their way into the text.

And backyard cooking isn’t just for meat anymore. Whole chapters are devoted to fish, vegetables and fruits for healthier eating that will perk up appetites during the dog days of summer. Thumbing through the book I found luscious-sounding Grilled Baby Artichokes with Balsamic Olive Oil Drizzle; Smoked Sweet Potato Casserole with Ginger & Lime; and, Smoked Corn in the Husk with Hot Pepper Herb Butter.

In this sample menu, all recipes are adapted from “300 Big & Bold Barbecue & Grilling Recipes” by Adler and Fertig (Robert Rose, 2009):