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Barbecues 101: More Than 100 Recipes for Great Grilled, Smoked, and Barbecued Food Plus All the Fixings for Perfect Outdoor Parties

Barbecues 101: More Than 100 Recipes for Great Grilled, Smoked, and Barbecued Food Plus All the Fixings for Perfect Outdoor Parties

by Rick Rodgers

He's taken the fear out of holiday entertaining and Thanksgiving dinner preparation, and now Rick Rodgers makes grilling easier and more enjoyable than ever. Drawn from his sold-out coast-to-coast classes, Barbecues 101 features the hands-on, step-by-step style that has made Rodgers such a popular and award-winning instructor.

This totally comprehensive


He's taken the fear out of holiday entertaining and Thanksgiving dinner preparation, and now Rick Rodgers makes grilling easier and more enjoyable than ever. Drawn from his sold-out coast-to-coast classes, Barbecues 101 features the hands-on, step-by-step style that has made Rodgers such a popular and award-winning instructor.

This totally comprehensive guide is ideal for novice grillers or veterans. Barbecues 101 offers an abundance of recipes equally suitable for charcoal and gas grills, as well as tips on how to turn your grill into a smoker. Classic barbecue fare (such as Rubbed and Sauced Beef Ribs) and contemporary grilled dishes (Duck Breast with Orange-Port Sauce) are served up with intriguing appetizers, savory side dishes, and luscious desserts. Recipes for sauces, marinades, rubs, and salsas are given for all types of meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables, and there are even barbecue-ready beverages such as Merlot and Summer Fruit Sangria. Complete menus with timetables make a feed-the-masses family reunion as simple as a quiet patio dinner for four. With Barbecues 101 in hand, fabulous foolproof barbecue is at every home cook's fingertips.

Rick Rodgers shows you:
*The fastest, safest ways to make a fire
*How quick and easy marinating can be
*The best method for grilling–not charring–chicken
*How to plan step-by-step for festive outdoor gatherings

Bring skill to your grill with this complete introductory course from one of America's favorite cooking teachers.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The latest book from prolific food writer and cooking teacher Rodgers is the third in the popular series that started with Thanksgiving 101. Here he provides a grilling primer, menus with helpful timetables, and easy recipes for backyard entertaining, from classics like BBQ Chicken 101 to more sophisticated fare like Niçoise Fish Fillets en Papillote. There is also a section of recipes "From the Kitchen," which includes a selection of appetizers, fresh salads and side dishes, and summery fruit desserts. For most collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.98(w) x 9.17(h) x 0.43(d)

Read an Excerpt

Grilling 101

People love grilled food for many reasons. First, grilling is an inherently simple way to cook, with less pots and pans to wash than with conventional, indoor cooking. Cooking over fire is a great way to add extra flavor to food without extra calories. But I think the real attraction is that it allows the cook to use all of the senses, even more than other cooking methods. Grilling requires the cook to stay tuned in to the entire process, from feeling the heat of the fire, to hearing the sizzle of the meat, to smelling the charcoal, to tasting that first, smoky bite of perfectly grilled steak. If you throw the food on the grill and nonchalantly walk away, you are courting disaster. And when it comes time to throw a party, the easy preparation of grilled food is most appreciated. An average-sized grill can turn out plenty of food, even if you are looking beyond barbecue favorites, such as hot dogs and burgers.

Grilling is indeed easy, but only if you understand the necessary techniques to do it right. When I was growing up, I saw the men in my family grill the same way that cavemen must have. (This was back in the day when the grill was the property of the man of the house, a concept that has mostly disappeared with rabbit ears on the black-and-white television set.) The typical dad would marinate the chicken in store-bought barbecue sauce, then grill it directly over the coals. The poor guy was constantly fighting flare-ups, burned barbecue sauce, and raw chicken. There's nothing easy about that. Barbecues 101 shows how to avoid all those pitfalls, and it shows that there is a difference between cooking something to perfection and just trying to keep it from burning up.

d clean machine d

With both types of grills, before grilling, always scrub the cooking rack. The best way is to set the rack in place as soon as the ignited coals have been spread out, letting the heat burn any food residue on the grill. Use a stiff brush to thoroughly clean the grill. Do not let the food "burn off." By the time that happens, the coals will be too cold to grill anything.

If you are a committed griller, you should clean the grill every few weeks to avoid buildups of carbon and residual food and grease. It's an easy chore to give the inside of the grill and lid a scrub with a scouring pad and a rinse with the hose. At least once a year, give the grill a complete spring cleaning with grill or oven cleaner. With a gas grill, manufacturers suggest that you make an annual check of all the connections and replace any hoses as needed.

The Great Debate:

Charcoal versus Gas

The line has been drawn in the sand. Grilling aficionados have broken into two camps: the "it was good enough for Grandpa, and it's good enough for me" charcoal grill fans, and the "I love my new gas grill more than my BMW" faction.

I doubt if one group will ever win the argument over which grill is better. To me, it's not a question of which grill cooks better, it's a matter of convenience. In the last few years, gas grills have outsold charcoal. Surely, it is the convenience of gas-grill cooking that has spurred the increase.

My friends who traded in their "clinker" charcoal grill for a "late model" gas grill all say that they love the new one because it has given them the time to grill more often without any charcoal mess. However, the love affair took time to grow. At first, the gas-grilled food didn't seem to have the same intense charcoal flavor. But as the cooks learned about their new grill, discovering ways to add more flavor with wood chips and other tricks, the relationship was sealed.

Frankly, I have both grills on my city rooftop garden. For me, the deep smoky flavor and sensory experience of cooking at a charcoal grill has the edge. I'm just a pyromaniac at heart, I guess. When I have the time, I build a charcoal fire in a few minutes with my chimney starter. On the other hand, for weeknight meals, I simply turn on the gas grill. There are many times when I am glad to have both grills, searing steaks to a sizzle over a hot fire in the charcoal model, and gently cooking the side vegetables over the cooler heat of the gas grill.

With either model, think of your grill as an outdoor version of your oven. This is an important concept. Just as you wouldn't roast everything at 550 degrees F in an oven (the interior temperature of most fully heated grills), you don't want to cook everything at high heat on the grill, either. There are ways to regulate the heat-opening and closing air vents, adjusting the heat thermostats on a gas grill, and cooking on cooler areas of the grill away from the heat-so use them.

Another important tip is to cook with the grill lid closed. This effectively traps the heat in the grill, allowing the food to cook more quickly. Don't open the grill unnecessarily, or you'll let out the heat. Cooking with the lid closed is a controversial subject among grill masters, a subject perhaps more arguable than the gas versus charcoal issue. Some cooks say that they detect off flavors in grilled food cooked with the lid down, but I say that they probably haven't washed their grill in eons and they are tasting old grease and such. The grill and lid should be cleaned occasionally anyway.

If you think that the purchase of a gas grill would be an upgrade, and you want to take the plunge, go ahead. (The top-of-the-line gas grills are very fine indeed.) But my advice is to not turn your back on your charcoal grill. There are times when you will want to bring it out and use it for deeper charcoal flavor or as an auxiliary grill. Most charcoal grills are easy to take apart and transport to another location for a cookout. Even if your old grill is rusted and needs replacement, consider buying a smaller charcoal grill along with your new gas grill, just in case you find out that you are a member of the "charcoal or die" school. I would not want American cooks to forget what a juicy, meaty, true charcoal-grilled steak is like, just as I would hate for our taste buds to get used to frozen lemonade and never enjoy the homemade, fresh-squeezed kind anymore.

Charcoal Grills

The most common charcoal grill has a kettle shape. The tight-fitting lid traps the heat in the grill, and the adjustable vents in the lid and bottom of the kettle control the amount of oxygen. The oxygen keeps the fire alive, so the wider the vents, the hotter the fire burns. Charcoal grills have two grates-the smaller one holds the charcoal, and the larger rack holds the food. The basic models are fine, but the upscale versions have bells and whistles that make grilling much easier. Look for models with thermometers in the lids (to gauge the interior temperature), hinged cooking racks (which allow you to add more coals if needed to keep the fire going), and charcoal baskets (to contain the briquettes so they burn more slowly with condensed heat).

There are other types of charcoal grills, but because the kettle version is so popular, they are hardly worth mentioning. Braziers are square or rectangular grills. They usually have cooking racks that can be adjusted toward or away from the fire. Hibachis or tabletop grills are good for small meals. Drum grills are the hallmark of passionate barbecue lovers, as they can smoke huge amounts of food, but they have special requirements that are beyond the scope of this book (more appropriate for "Barbecues 201").

Light My Fire

Charcoal briquettes are just the beginning of a whole range of options for firing up your grill. They are made from pulverized hardwood charcoal, mixed with binders, and pressed into small blocks. Their uniform shape enables them to burn evenly. Some flavored briquettes have tiny mesquite chips mixed in, which add a wood flavor to the food.

Self-lighting briquettes have been impregnated with lighting fluid for easy ignition, but I don't recommend them. They're more expensive, and there are plenty of simple ways to light a fire without resorting to a method that could give your food an off flavor. If you must use them, follow the package instructions carefully, and don't use them in a chimney starter because they burn too hot.

Hardwood charcoal is the fuel of choice for many grill cooks who love the intense flavor it imparts to the food. It's an all-natural product, and no binders are used. The exact type of wood varies with the manufacturer-a Texas charcoal company will use mesquite, but one in the East may use oak or another hardwood.

The important thing to remember with hardwood charcoal is that it burns hotter and much more quickly than briquettes. Open the bag, and you'll see charcoal of different sizes; the large chunks will throw off more heat than the smaller pieces. Spread out the coals as soon as they are thoroughly lighted and evenly gray, and break up any very large pieces with a rap from a hammer. (On the other hand, I have been disappointed when opening charcoal bags and finding that the chunks have broken into tiny shards that will burn up in minutes. If this happens to you, return the bag to the store and be sure to write a letter to the manufacturer.)

Hardwood charcoal is best to use for grilling food that should be cooked quickly over high heat, such as steaks or hamburgers. To get the best of both types of charcoal, I often mix briquettes and hardwood in equal proportions. That way I get the even burning of briquettes and the flavor of hardwood charcoal.

Lighting a fire should be a simple, safe chore. The best way to ensure this is to never use lighting fluid. Have you ever noticed that no matter how much fluid you put on charcoal, it still takes about 20 minutes for the coals to light? Too much lighting fluid will definitely flavor your food, and I don't care what promises are made about it burning off. Keep those chemicals away from my food, thank you.

h rick's grilling tips h

* Preheat the grill thoroughly-coals should be covered with white ash, and a gas grill should be preheated to at least 550 degrees F.

* Use the right amount of charcoal briquettes-5 pounds is perfect for most grills and foods.

* Never use lighting fluid to light a fire. We all know what lighting-fluid-flavored ribs taste like, proving my point.

* Remove food from the refrigerator to lose its chill while the grill is preheating.

* Use the preheating time to lightly marinate foods-most foods will benefit from a brief bath in a little olive oil and lemon juice.

* Don't overmarinate food or the texture will be compromised.

* Be sure that the grill is scrubbed clean with a grill brush and lightly oiled before each use.

* Grill with the lid closed-it traps in the heat, and the food will cook more evenly.

* Use appropriate methods to regulate the heat-open and close the vents or adjust the heat on a gas grill-and keep a thermometer in the lid to gauge the interior heat.

* Always be flexible with your cooking times because some fires burn hotter than others.

* Wash your grill every few weeks with a quick scrub with a scouring pad, and give it a thorough cleaning at least once a year.

First of all, use the right amount of charcoal. Five to 6 pounds is sufficient for most 22 1/2-inch grills. (You don't have to take out the scale-just estimate one-quarter of a 20-pound bag.) Too much charcoal, and the food could end up incinerated, and not grilled. Some recipes for slow-cooked foods require a bit less charcoal to reduce the amount of heat to medium. Build the fire on the lower charcoal grate, not the larger cooking rack. While starting the fire, don't cover the grill, as this will cut down the oxygen needed to feed the flames.

My favorite way to light a fire is with newspaper knots, especially at away-from-home locations where I don't want to lug along the chimney starter. Start with a double thickness of newspaper (a double-page spread that is 27 inches wide), and roll it up from a long side into a cylinder. Now tie the cylinder into a loose overhand knot. Make two or three newspaper knots. Place these knots on the bottom of the grill, then fit the charcoal grate in place over the knots. Mound the briquettes in the center of the charcoal grate, and light the newspapers with a match. The newspapers will act as kindling, and the charcoal will light in a jiffy.

Chimney starters are the favorite fire-starting tools of many cooks. They are tall chimney-shaped canisters with a grate for holding the charcoal-newspaper is used as kindling. When purchasing one, look for large, rustproof models that will hold at least 5 pounds of briquettes. Heatproof handles are essential.

Solid fuel starters are another alternative, but with the above methods, it's unnecessary to go to the expense of buying starters. If you want to use them, place a starter cube in the center of the grate, and mound the charcoal on top, leaving a bit of the cube exposed. Ignite the cube and let it do its job.

d What is a Barbecue Anyway? d

A barbecue is a good-time outdoor party, but it is also a cooking technique. Barbecue is slow-cooked food that is smoked over hardwood. The long cooking is an especially good way to break down the tough tissues in cuts of meat like brisket and pork shoulder.

The word barbecue comes from the Spanish barbacoa. When the conquistadores came to the Americas, they observed a native cooking technique. A fire was built in a shallow pit. When the wood burned to coals, a pig carcass was wrapped in leaves, placed in the pit, and covered with more leaves and dirt, where it cooked slowly in the residual heat. As the Spaniards moved into Texas, they took the barbacoa concept with them and applied it to cattle. The word eventually became barbecue (often abbreviated to BBQ, especially on the countless restaurant signs that dot the southwestern countryside). To be very specific, when a food is cooked directly over a flame (as in a steak or burger), it is actually grilled, not barbecued. Barbecued food is cooked away from a flame, and it must be infused with hardwood smoke flavor.

Every region of America has its own way to barbecue, using local products and hardwood.

In the Carolinas, pork shoulder is the meat of choice, smoked with hickory wood, and served with a thin, tangy vinegar sauce. Texans believe that there is only one true barbecue-beef, often brisket, smoked with their ubiquitous mesquite, and served with a spicy tomato sauce. In the Pacific Northwest, a whole salmon is often hung on a frame in front of a cedar or alder wood fire, where it slowly cooks and picks up the smoke flavor. Even the New England clambake is really a version of barbecue, where the shellfish cooks over smoldering seaweed.

No matter what you call it-it sure is good!

Allow 20 to 30 minutes for the charcoal to ignite and burn until the coals are completely covered with gray-white ash. At this stage, most of the noxious fumes thrown off by the charcoal have dissipated. Never put food on the grill until the coals have reached this point, or the food could develop an off flavor and get a dusting of ashes, too. Protect your hand with an oven mitt and use a fireproof tool like a garden trowel to spread the coals out in a thick layer so they burn evenly. (Some recipes that use indirect heating ask that the coals be heaped in a mound in the center of the charcoal grate.)

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