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Fire + Wine: 75 Smoke-Infused Recipes from the Grill with Perfect Wine Pairings

Fire + Wine: 75 Smoke-Infused Recipes from the Grill with Perfect Wine Pairings

by Mary Cressler, Sean Martin


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Ready to up your grilling game? This cookbook by a pitmaster and a sommelier will turn your backyard barbecue into the tastiest place to be—with recipes that celebrate smoked and grilled food (and the wines that pair best with them). 

Every region has its barbecue, grill, and smoking food traditions. Now the Pacific Northwest can claim its place at the table with these recipes developed by sommelier Mary Cressler and pitmaster Sean Martin from Portland, Oregon. Not as sauce-dependent as Kansas City, not quite as beef-obsessed as Texas, these dishes bring the smoke to wild salmon, ribs and steaks, fresh apples, heirloom tomatoes, nuts and beans, and even chocolate pot de crème. Rubs and glazes draw on Northwest flavors such as soy sauce, rosemary, and wild blackberries. Whether the equipment at home is a basic kettle grill or a professional-grade outfit with an electric wood feeder, the instructions will turn even novices into masters of the grill. And true to the region, these recipes pair with wines such as pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon instead of the customary can of beer.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632172778
Publisher: Sasquatch Books
Publication date: 03/25/2020
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 678,646
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Mary Cressler and Sean Martin blog about BBQ and wine on their website, Vindulge, which received an IACP nomination for Best Recipe-Based Blog in 2017. Mary is food writer with credits in Wine Enthusiast, Serious Eats, Weber Grills Online, and a frequent judge for wine competitions. She teaches Champagne education classes for the US Champagne Bureau to culinary students at Le Cordon Bleu and to members of the wine trade. She is a member of the Portland chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier. Sean is the pitmaster of Ember and Vine, the authors' catering company that serves Portland and Oregon wine country.

Read an Excerpt

When we first moved to Portland in 2006, Mary unpacked the house while Sean stayed behind in San Francisco for a few weeks finishing up his job. He felt bad that he wasn’t able to help unpack much and promised to spend his first few days unpacking the two rooms she had saved for him.

The day he arrived, instead of fulfilling his promise, he spent the entire day researching grills. We couldn’t have one in our teeny San Francisco apartment, so he was eager to finally get one now that we had a real backyard. During his second day as an Oregonian, he went shopping, bought a grill, and put it together. The third day we spent grilling.

He didn’t get around to unpacking a single box until several days later, despite constant encouragement (read: nagging). Our first grill as first-time homeowners was a standard gas grill. It served its purpose or a short time, but we soon got curious about wood-fired food. Because both of us worked full time (Mary in the wine industry and Sean in insurance), we didn’t have much time to dedicate to standing around a smoker, so we opted for a pellet smoker.

We both remember clearly the day we brought it home. The very first things we wanted to cook included strawberries, almonds, salmon, potatoes, zucchini, and chicken. Not quite your typical BBQ fare. But we were curious from day one how everything would taste cooked on the smoker. We had a lot of mixed results in the beginning and strange reactions from others, such as, “You smoked what?!”

It was a whole new way of thinking about cooking outside, and we were immediately hooked.

It wasn’t for several weeks that we even attempted anything that would be considered typical BBQ (pork butt, ribs, brisket, etc.). We were having too much fun seeing how vegetables, fruit, and seafood performed on the smoker. We quickly learned that anything you can cook in your kitchen on your stovetop or in your oven you can cook outside on a smoker or grill, and it’s a heck of a lot more fun. Well, most of the time.

The combination of being able to spend time outside, especially in the warm Portland summer months, while cooking together and socializing with our neighbors was such a great bonding experience and a welcome stress relief from our day jobs. Flash forward a few years and we found ourselves living in Connecticut. Our twin boys had just been born, and Mary’s wine-industry career transitioned into freelance writing while raising the babies.

As two people who loved going out to eat and explore new restaurants, we were suddenly forced to cook at home (it’s not fun to take two babies out to restaurants, let alone the curious toddlers they quickly grew into).

Instead we spent more and more time determined to make great food at home by homing in on our grilling and smoking skills. Even during several infamous New England blizzards, we used those days off as the perfect opportunity to practice brisket or chicken wings—yes, in the snow.

And while many husbands were watching football and drinking beer on Sundays, Sean spent the afternoon with Mary watching episodes of BBQ Pitmasters together while sipping wine.

After three challenging East Coast winters, we were ready to return to Portland but not without adding to the family. A 16-foot offset commercial smoker, the kind used in competitions and in business settings, is not what most spouses would logically agree to acquire in support of a “hobby,” but alas when one of you has a strong dream and vision for the future, the other is (reluctantly) willing to compromise and be supportive (as long as there was wine involved).

And thus “The Beast” was born, aptly named, with the intent to start competing in BBQ competitions (thanks to way too many episodes of BBQ Pitmasters). What were we thinking?
That summer we participated in our first BBQ competition. The experience was close to a nightmare. This was mostly because we were rookies and didn’t know what the heck we were doing. We also camped out in the Washington desert while others had comfortable trailers.
It was hot during the day, cold at night, and during the evening we endured an insufferable windstorm that nearly blew away our tent and kept our fire temperatures inconsistent throughout the night. Oh, yeah, and our then three-year-old boys were with us. Despite our inexperience, our flavors came through and we still placed in the category of Tri Tip. While the experience was less than ideal, we realized then that we were actually homing in on our personal style of BBQ.

That challenge didn’t stop us from entering different styles of competitions. One such competition was a national recipe competition, in which we took the grand prize. The recipe? Brisket Nachos, made with a deeply rich chili. What happened next was something we never imagined doing. We started a catering company.

Following that win, Phelps Creek Vineyards in Hood River, Oregon, invited us to serve those award-winning nachos to their guests. We took “The Beast” out to the winery and cooked for a crowd for the first time. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. And apparently, we didn’t mess things up, because they asked us to come back again, this time cooking for their wine club. It was at that event that we created our Pinot Noir BBQ Sauce (page 74), using their wine as a base.

Word got out, and we were suddenly doing pop-up and catering events for wineries throughout the Pacific Northwest. In just our second year of catering, we were featured in a cover article in Oregon Wine Press about top wine country caterers. Who the heck were we to deserve such honors?!

As we catered more events, we shared many of our recipes on our blog, Vindulge, encouraging others to try the recipes themselves. The blog gained in popularity, winning awards for photography and nominations from the International Association of Culinary Professionals
(IACP) for our recipes and wine pairings. Mary’s writing was featured in regional publications as well as prestigious print publications such as Wine Enthusiast.

Living and cooking in wine county, we have always made it our goal to create food cooked with wood fire that has wine in mind.We’ve been inspired by and have full respect for the classic BBQ regions, such as Texas, Kansas City, Memphis, and the Carolinas. But it’s never been our passion. Our passion starts in the Pacific Northwest, where we take what we love about the classic regions and apply them to what we have available here.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Fire 9

Wine 39

Recipes 59

Rubs, Sauces, and Glazes 60

Starting the Party 70

Birds on the BBQ 90

King of Meats: Beef 110

Porklandia 138

Lamb Jam 160

From the Rivers to the Sea: Fish and Seafood 174

From the Garden: Vegetarian Dishes 194

A Side Project 212

Acknowledgments 225

Index 226

Customer Reviews