In their books The Thrill of the Grill and How to Cook Meat, Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby told grillers what they need to know to make great outdoor food--and how to have fun doing it. Let the Flames Begin finds the pair similarly busy, and better than ever on the how-to-and-with-what equation. Establishing their commitment to live-fire, as opposed to gas-fueled, grilling (each live fire has its own personality, they say, and is thus more fun to cook over, and it's the sole source of "that true, ineffable grilled flavor"), they then present the six basic live-fire techniques, cold and hot smoking through barbecuing and grilling. (Barbecuing is "cool and slow," grilling is not.) The pair's recipes are always instructive--each one provides detailed information on the appropriate fire set up, for example--as well as inviting. Flames offers 250 of these for a wide range of basic and innovative dishes, among them Cumin-Crusted Grilled Sirloin Strip Steak with Grilled Avocados and Chipotle-Coated Onions, Barbecued Jerk Baby Back Ribs with Banana-Guava Catsup, and the incredibly incendiary Pasta from Hell: The Next Generation with Curried Grilled Chicken. (This comes with a release form absolving the authors from responsibility for the dish's effect on diners and the ozone layer.) Included also are formulas for the authors' signature in-the-coals foil-pouch cooking, which yields sides like Hobo Pack of Sweet Potatoes, Apples, and Sage. With a useful section on gauging food doneness, a helpful glossary, and wise counsel throughout, the book promises more grilling thrills than ever from the guys who have the drill down. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
In the seventh collaboration since their ahead-of-the-curve Thrill of the Grill (1990), Schlesinger and Willoughby demonstrate what separates the men from the boys in the practice of outdoor cookery. As their preface insists, lighting charcoal is not just cooking, it is a serious connection back to childhood, a kid's discovery of fire as well as the celebration of lessons passed on from Dad. The authors clearly love their work and their passion makes for an exciting collection. It doesn't hurt either that they are at once elegant and disarming. The very first recipe, Silky Turkish Eggplant Dip, relaxes the reader: Cooking eggplant on the grill is particularly fun because it's one time when you can feel free to burn your food to a cinder. This is not to suggest that the recipes are simplistic. Indeed, the authors have found a way to combine the requisite smoky flavor of charcoal with the complex, new-world colors and tastes most often found in dishes meant for the even-tempered but unchallenging gas grill. The key is to build what they refer to as a multi-level fire, a literal ramp of heat that allows for a range of temperature. Thus, for West Indies Grilled Chicken Thighs with Grilled Banana, the chicken gets high heat while the fruit and a butter and molasses mixture do well on the cooler end of the grill. Sides include Pineapple-Chipotle Salsa and Peach Red Pepper Relish. In all, 400 pages, 250 recipes and two lifetimes' worth of experience make this a must-have for the serious backyard chef.
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