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Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and-Slow BBQ Hardcover – May 6, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Karmel brings a feminine flair to a masculine domain with this A-to-Z roadmap to grill-based cuisine—from fast, high-heat methods to slower roasts and barbecue that rely on an indirect flame. Some may disagree with Karmel's assertion that there's no taste difference between gas and charcoal, although she does give tips on using old-fashioned briquettes. Her extensive introduction to techniques, tools and pantry basics make up the meat of the book; the 350 recipes that follow, organized by ingredient, rely so heavily on the methods set earlier that novices will frequently find themselves flipping back and forth. Karmel aims to be encyclopedic, offering a guide to cuts and a cooking timetable in every section, and she's at her best with natural variations on grilling, from simple Chicken Paillard to ambitious Hung-Your-Momma Braised Short Ribs. Karmel has never met a dish she can't make on the grill, and her attempts at grilled versions of Pot Roast and Veal Scaloppini are unnecessary. Her chatty, "girlfriend" point of view leads to a few lapses: for example, the beef section omits "rare" from its cooking timetable, and Grilled Lobster 101 devotes more time to avoiding killing the lobster (getting someone else to do it being the top choice) than it does to cooking it. Overall, though, this is a welcome guide for members of either sex. Photos. (May)
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Taming the Flame starts with a generous introduction that lays down some important foundational information that eliminates the surprise factor and aims to guide the reader to a better understanding of not just how to grill but why to do it in certain ways. For example, the author explains the differences between gas and charcoal grills and how to make a good decision when shopping for a new grill. The different heat methods - direct, indirection and a combination of the two - are each described in detail with good guidelines as to when to use each given method to cook. Flavoring methods (rubs, sauces, mops and quite a few more) are described in some detail and what utensils and tools to have at the ready are clearly laid out. All of this is covered in the first 30 pages, before the actual recipe sections start!
From here, the next 300+ pages lay out the recipes and how-to's based on main ingredient. Poultry, beef, lamb, pork and seafood are a few of the sections, but there are quite a few more. Many sections start with a "101" mini-howto, that lays down foundational methods for dealing with dishes using the main ingredient in question.
When dealing with ribs, the author has mixed in a section on sauces, rubs and mops for flavoring ideas. There are several excellent flavor combinations to be found there and the adventurous can tweak and adjust to make even more.
So far, everything I have tried from this book has worked out well to the delight of my family.
Taming the Flame is the best book I have seen on the subject of outdoor cooking on the grill. It is very well written, it has a lot of materials not commonly found in other books and the recipes yield fabulous results.
I have been an ardent griller for a looong time, and look for (but infrequently buy) all new books that will add to either my repertory or increase my skills. Too many do neither. My older son got Ms. Karmel's new book on sauces for me as a Christmas gift when I was two weeks past a hip replacement. I suspect he wanted me "back to work" at the grills. On Dec. 26, having been very enthusiatic about the sauces book, I ordered this one and was sure glad that I did!
Did it "add to my repertory"? You bet! I'll NEVER brown short ribs in oil on the stove again; no sireee! I'll put a rub on them and brown them on the grill, just like Ms. Karmel says -- then braise them just like she says. It's a hugely great dish -- HOO HAH! We also tried and loved the pork chops glazed with orange marmelade and dark rum. We've got a bunch more lined up, but critters developed a liking for gas regulator hoses (last year it was grill covers), so the Weber Genesis is on lockdown until the part gets here.
Did it increase my skills? yep, it sure did. Ms. Karmel is a Southern lady, so I was interested in her take on barbecue; that's the low & slow kind. After all these years, I learned that too much smoke, say on ribs, detracts from the end result, and why this is. There's a lot of other neat stuff, too.
Ms. Karmel's goal - or one of them - is to get more women to grill and barbecue. I soundly approve! I know of only one woman who does so, and she's going on 80, but makes the Weber perform like a concert violin. But most think it's messy or have some other objection, but sure pile on when they come to our place! I hope this book advances the interest of women in cooking outdoors; it seems to from this ol' guy's perspective. Certainly, in general, if it can be cooked, it can be done on a grill and taste a lot better.
In sum, this book is well organized and indexed. It is chock full of flavorful, easy to follow and execute recipies, and, I think, a lot of the author's passion for the grill. It has gone on my short list of essential grilling books, along with her new one on sauces.
I think it's a sure fire winner!!
Of my 75 or so of constantly being tweeked/edited out cookbooks, I have ONE grilling cookbook. I got it because everyone said it's the best and while yes, I grab it here and there, it's uninspiring and not overly useful. So, I decided to grab a couple grilling books from the library to learn a few more things now that we live in a house where grilling is easier to do (versus in townhouse living where I had to cross the house and go down a flight of stairs to get to the patio). After reading through all the 101 part, and perusing the recipes, I told my husband I need this cookbook because I'll be grabbing it over and over. The other cookbooks I checked out from the library were 'eh'. Even though money is super tight right now with remodeling and buying a new house, this book is going to be the treat to myself! GREAT book!!!
The ONLY thing I wish it had, but it's not anything to dock points from the book about, is stuff on rotisserie grilling. And I'm with the author - I think gas and charcoal are the same - ONCE your gas grill is well seasoned.