Sunday, May 2, 2010

Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue

This book should come with a warning label: Eat Before You Read!

I got this book recently from the author’s PR staff. The book turned out to have 309 recipes from 60 countries and was like taking a trip around the world just going through the pages.

It gave me a immediate desire to pack my bags and catch the next plane to Vietnam for a bowl of Bo Bun…a recipe which is in the book on Page 177 and happens to be one of my all time favorite recipes.

In addition to a very comprehensive History of BBQ, the author moves into the BBQ culture of each county including the types of grills and fuels, the flavorings and condiments and the best dish and restaurant in their collection.

He highlights foods, gifted chefs and throws in over 600 beautiful photographs just to get your appetite fired up.

There’s a marvelous section on grilled breads and many interesting tips on grilling steaks (Tip #2: you should bring a steak to room temperature before grilling. Response: There isn’t a respectable steak house in the world that does this) and making the perfect burger.

He also defines such things as the doneness of steak. Did you know that the French tend to eat their steaks more rare than Americans do? That Bleu (literally Blue) is Extremely rare – blood red meat that’s cool in the center? Also something called Pittsburg Rare is that the exterior will be charred black, the interior will be so rare it is still mooing and you’ll need a grill with a blast furnace heat to achieve this result?

He does a very in depth section on USA BBQ from Memphis and Texas to North Carolina. I have paper clipped so many sections in this bible, it appears that I’ll not run out of BBQ recipes anytime soon.
So fire up your grill because you’ll get a good measure of my favorite recipes this summer. This book is on the top of my stack!

In my estimation, it is a great study and will also be a point of reference for the art of cooking barbecue. It’s well worth the $22.95 price tag – a bargain by today’s standards.

See Steven Raichlen’s at his Chicago Book signing on May 25th from 6:15 PM – 6:50 PM with a presentation and Q&A from 7:00 PM – 7:30 PM. It’s at the University Club at 76 East Monroe in downtown Chicago.

Just a note that it was so fantastic to have a cookbook in my hands again where I was able to pick it up, study it, get lost in the photos or cross reference some sections as opposed to trying to do this on the internet. It just does not have the same outcome.

Bon Appetit!