I’m no Master of the Pit, but I know my way around a barbecue grill. In addition to the usual burgers and dogs, I can grill a mean porterhouse, rub a rack of ribs, or even beer-can a chicken with the best of them. I learned how to grill from my grandfather, who improvised a lot and never actually prepared any dish the same twice. Any time I’d ask him to write down a recipe or just provide specifics, he’d just take a drag on his Pall Mall and tell me, “We’re grilling steaks, not baking cookies.”
So, is it really cheating to use a recipe for barbecuing? My friends are divided on the issue. Some maintain that cooking by rote or recipe is totally acceptable, while others insist it’s akin to painting by numbers and calling it art. Since I never acquired my grandfather’s talent for spontaneity, I tend to favor the recipe approach. For me, it’s all about repeatable process. My wife Anne loves my beer can chicken, but she knows it’s going to taste the same as it did last time, and the time before.
A couple of weeks ago, Anne downloaded a free ebook of BBQ Recipes from the American Family website. For someone like me, who can’t cook without a crib sheet, this book is a godsend! It’s got over 40 recipes, ranging from the basic (grilled steak, grilled vegetables) to the complicated (Caribbean grilled scallop salad, grilled quail with white polenta). There are awesome (and easy) recipes for grilled stuffed peppers and grilled corn on the cob, and even a recipe for grilled BLT pizza.
The recipes, even the more complex ones, are presented on a single page each, with serving size, ingredients, and instructions for preparation. Each entry also includes nutritional information, for those of you who may be grilling to eat healthy.
Thanks to this book, I’m well on my way to adding a few more grilled dishes to my repertoire. I used the grilled sausages recipe to fire up some brats for the in-laws last weekend, and Anne has asked me to grill another batch of stuffed peppers for her Keno game next week. She’s also taken an interest in grilling, and says she’s tempted to take a stab at the Grilled Peaches Jezebel (peaches with honey, horseradish, and Dijon mustard, in case you’re wondering).
If you’re interested, the BBQ Recipes book can be downloaded at
http://www.americanfamily.com/lp/SciOpsBBQ/download.html. American Family—a part of Synapse Group, Inc.—is one of those websites where they pay you to play games, collect recipes, clip coupons, and take quizzes. Unless you’re already a member, you’ll have to sign up before you can download the book, but it’s totally free!