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Charred & Scruffed Paperback – May 8, 2012
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Gabrielle Hamilton is the author of Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef.
At my restaurant we've now cooked pretty extensively from Perry Lang's Charred and Scruffed and read it from cover to cover. And while I would consider all of us experienced meat cookers, every cook here has been pretty radically enlightened by it.
Charred and Scruffed is a game-changer. It blows open the whole over-saturated category of grilling and will change your meat cooking forever, whether you're a beginner or a hardy veteran of cooking meat with fire and smoke. In this book, Perry Lang teaches you to be an active griller--to abandon the idea and aesthetic of the rigid, perfect, crosshatched grill mark like you find at an Outback or Wendy's--and to instead really move the meat around the grill in a way that it builds up more and more surface area, getting as much char and flavor on every micro-inch of its surface as possible. He prepares the meats by opening them up, either by hand--kind of pulling apart rib roasts or cracking the backs of chickens and stabbing the birds repeatedly (!)--or by cutting shallow, diamond-hatch scoring into the surface of leaner cuts to create more places for crust and char to form, thus letting more flavor develop. And creating more surfaces for the seasoning salts, herby and acidic bastes, and unbelievably delicious and sensible “board sauces” made right on the cutting board with the juices of the meats themselves, to adhere and cling to. Why no one has thought of the board sauce is a mystery and an example of Adam Perry Lang's genius. After basting the meat frequently throughout its cooking time with a basting brush made of a bunch of herbs--both beautiful and purposeful--you finely mince the tip end of the herb baster brush--which has softened in the heat and released the herbs' fragrant oils--and stir that right into the juices from the rested grilled meat. It is a stroke of brilliance. Utterly freaking delicious and simple and smart.
I first caught on to the obsessive genius of Adam Perry Lang and his relationship to meat over ten years ago when I wrote a piece about him for Saveur magazine. At the time he was the chef at Robert's Steakhouse on the west side of Manhattan, which served the best meat in New York City. Everyone who came to know it agreed that it blew the city's famed steakhouses out of the water. At the time Adam was aging meat weeks and even months longer than anyone, anywhere. His walk-ins had an elaborate setup of thermometers, fans, humidifiers and stainless steel metro shelving--and a fastidious date and time labeling system as well. He rotated huge racks of beef, attending to the temperature, humidity and “velocity,” as he called it, of cool air circulating in the room with a near mania. He was obsessively sourcing meat, flying out to see growers and buyers and packers throughout the Midwest and Texas to understand everything he could about grass and grain and corn. At the same time, just to give you a sense of his energy, he had opened Daisy May Bar B Que and was competing on the national barbecue circuit. And winning!
All this to say, there is no single person or team working with meat today who knows more or who has more to share and to learn from.
This book is suited for professionals and amateurs alike, men and women, from back yard pit masters to fire-escape kettle-grillers, for dads whose favorite weekend activity is centered around the Weber to die hards who will find themselves shoveling a path to the grill deep in winter just to cook from its pages.
“Perry Lang has rewritten the rules of grilling. His latest book, Charred & Scruffed, is a bible for a new kind of charcoal-fired religion.”
“Full of serious barbecue how-to with plentiful photos.”
–Better Homes & Gardens
“If you know a person ready to get his―or, hello, her―Ph.D. in grilling, this will blow his (or her) already expanded mind.”
–New York Times Book Review
“In this book, [Adam Perry Lang] shares the creative theories and techniques that have made him a perennial award winner on the national barbecue circuit.”
–Martha Stewart Living
“A whole new way of looking at grilling.”
“Well-written and easy to follow recipes . . . nothing short of revolutionary.”
“Inspiring and loaded with great tips.”
“Adam Perry Lang is the Yoda of grilling. This is his third book on the subject and his most in-depth yet.”
“A perfect handbook for savory summer foods, with new techniques for cooking meat, fish and poultry on the grill, plus tips and tricks for fantastic sides.”
“A new sort of twenty first century barbecue. . . . Any serious backyard barbecuer who follows these recipes will very quickly leave the rest of neighborhood pit masters wallowing in ashes.”
“New grilling techniques for achieving crunchy crusts, succulent meat and perfect side dishes. If this sounds complicated, it isn’t. [Perry Lang has] made it easy.”
“An elegant and inventive barbecue cookbook.”
“No one knows more about cooking food over fire than Adam Perry Lang, and his techniques are all here.”
"Breaks newgrilling ground with well-written recipes."
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Top Customer Reviews
However some of his most interesting recipes (finishing salts,spackles) require a dehydrator and a convection oven which I do not own. Otherwise it is a good read with some great recipes. If you have a dehydrator and a convection oven and love to BBQ this book will not disappoint.
Note: The "four seasons blend" was much less salty with 1/2 cup of sea salt.
I watched a cooking demonstration featuring Adam at Central Market in Dallas, where he spoke, grilled, and then we ate. One of his recipes is "Rib Roast Done Like a Steak", which involves a three rib rib-eye steak that gets flattened down to about 3 inches high using a ... Baseball Bat! Aside from being good eats, it was fun to be in the front row of the demonstration when the steak tartar started flying.
The salts take some elapsed time to prepare, but are not hard to do. I've found a good substitute for a convection oven or a dehydrator, since I don't have either of these. I spread the salts on a baking tray on some parchment paper, then put the tray in the attic for a few days. A nice hot summer day dries out the salt very effectively. As an aside, my printing of the book has the Worcestershire Salt at 1 cup of salt to 1 cup of Worcestershire sauce, which I found to be too much liquid. I backed it down to 1/3 cup of sauce, similar to the other salt recipes, and it came out great.
Adam Perry Lang is a master griller; he's also a nice guy. He autographed our books and spoke with my son (who is an aspiring chef) after the event and was very pleasant.
I highly recommend the book. Buy it & let me know what you think!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
although some of the methods are more "caveman" than I'm willing to go, everything we've tried, has really been terrificPublished 2 months ago by e.k.wolshock or r.d.fook
APL is my idol. All of his recipes in this book and his others turn out great. I highly recommend this or any of his books. Read morePublished 8 months ago by BBQking
Not your normal BBQ book. A fairly different perspective and I picked up a several new ideas, which, at 70 years old is not expected. Read morePublished 9 months ago by steven m christensen
A while ago, I watched Nathan Myhrvold giving a lecture about grilling and barbecue at Harvard in youtube and got rid of many of the myths of conventional wisdom, such as:... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Guillermo Olaiz Silva
What a fantastic grilling book. The best BBQ/Griling book, by far, I have ever read. Adam Perry Lang has turned me into an accomplished, successful griller (I even impressed my... Read morePublished 11 months ago by JTN from Seattle
Favorite grilling book.. have adopted lots of techniques from this book and I'm in the grilling business!Published 11 months ago by Dennis