The Big Hurt's Guide to BBQ and Grilling: An Autobiography

The Big Hurt's Guide to BBQ and Grilling: An Autobiography

by Frank Thomas


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Hall of Famer and Chicago icon Frank Thomas shares his passion for grilling and cooking with baseball fans everywhere for the first time. Grilling is perhaps as essential and synonymous with American culture as baseball itself, and Frank Thomas is ready to share all of his home run recipes. Whether you’re looking for barbecue basics or grilling greatness, these sizzling steaks, slow-cooked smoked ribs, and mouthwatering burgers are sure to please every palate, from healthy fare to hearty indulgences. Beautiful full-color photographs and easy to follow instructions set you up for culinary success alongside legendary former White Sox player Frank Thomas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781629372297
Publisher: Triumph Books
Publication date: 06/01/2016
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Frank Thomas is a Hall of Fame Chicago White Sox designated hitter. He is a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and two-time American League MVP. His number was retired by the Chicago White Sox. Thomas opened the Big Hurt Brewhouse restaurant and sports bar near Chicago in 2014.

Read an Excerpt

The Big Hurt's Guide to BBQ and Grilling

By Frank Thomas

Triumph Books LLC

Copyright © 2016 Frank Thomas
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62937-229-7


Grilling Basics

You can write an entire book on the basics of grilling — in fact, you might have one sitting on your bookshelf right now. Rather than going over what "BBQ" means in the South versus what it means up north, or describing the differences between a gas grill and a charcoal grill, I'm going to assume if you're reading this that you're at least familiar with the basic concept of cooking and grilling outdoors.

Here is a brief overview of some of the terms, guidelines, ingredients, and equipment discussed in this book.

Essential Ingredients

Brown sugar
Balsamic vinegar
Cayenne pepper
Chili powder
Red chili flakes
Apple cider vinegar
All-purpose flour
Worcestershire sauce
Vegetable oil
Olive oil
Kosher and sea salts
Black pepper

Essential Tools

Heat-resistant silicone gloves
Long-handled tongs
Long-handled spatula
Basting brush
Paper towels
Perforated grill pan
Meat thermometer
Digital timer
Resealable plastic bags
Disposable foil drip pans
Wood chunks
Aluminum foil

Grilling Terms

Whether you prefer the convenience and control of a gas grill or the heat potential of a charcoal kettle, the basic principles of grilling remain the same. Grilling over direct heat means just that — placing the food directly over the heat source. Larger pieces of meat are often cooked using indirect heat, wherein the fire or hot charcoal is contained on one side of the grill, while the food is placed on the opposite side, over the unlit portion.

Safety Tips

Whether you're using a gas or charcoal grill, make sure you have read the manufacturer's instructions, that your grill is outdoors in a well-ventilated area, that your grill is stable atop a solid base, and that you never leave a grill unattended.

Grilling Temperatures

Every grill is different, but here are some basic rules of thumb for the recipes in this book.

High: 450-600 degrees
Medium-high: 400 degrees
Medium: 325-350 degrees
Medium-low: 300 degrees
Low: 225-250 degrees

Minimum Cooking Temperatures

Ground beef: 160 degrees
Steaks: 160 degrees
Beef roasts: 145 degrees
Poultry: 165 degrees
Fish: 145 degrees
Pork: 160 degrees



Grand Slam Grilled Grapes

Putting grapes on your grill may sound unusual, but trust me — fresh grapes, balsamic vinegar, and a good char make for a great combination. Serve with bread and cheese for a unique appetizer. For an added kick, add some red chili flakes.


1 pound red seedless grapes, washed
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 container burrata or goat cheese
1 loaf Italian bread or baguette, sliced

1. Preheat grill to high.

2. Whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic together in a large bowl, then add grapes and toss to evenly coat. It's easier to leave the grapes in one or two large bunches at this point.

3. When your grill is hot, place the grapes over direct heat for 30 — 45 seconds on each side.

4. Once the grapes are cool enough to handle, cut them into smaller bunches.

5. Brush the bread slices with olive oil, then toast on your grill and serve with the cheese of your choice.

Grilled Avocados with Tomato and Cheese

Avocados offer almost 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving, and are low in sugar and high in fiber. They also contain a good amount of monounsaturated fat, aka the "good" kind of fat. Topping a grilled avocado with grilled tomato and a sprinkling of cheese makes this appetizer both nutritious and delicious.


3 ripe avocados
3 small tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons feta or goat cheese
Sea salt and ground black peppe, to taste

1. Preheat grill to medium-high.

2. Cut avocados in half and remove the seeds, then slice tomatoes in half. Brush all halves with olive oil.

3. Grill tomatoes cut side down over direct heat until they begin to char, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

4. Grill avocados cut side down until grill marks begin to appear, about 2 — 3 minutes.

5. When cool enough to handle, dice the tomatoes and mix them in a small bowl with the cheese of your choice.

6. Top each avocado half with a generous spoonful of the tomato mixture, then season with sea salt and black pepper.

Grilled Pizza with Prosciutto and Arugula

I love turning my grill into a backyard pizza oven — I can reach temperatures that are impossible in a standard oven, which better mimics a true pizza oven, plus it avoids heating up my kitchen during hot Chicago summers. The dough in this recipe is almost foolproof and yields 2 small pizzas, perfect as a shared appetizer. Make sure you have all of your toppings at the ready once the dough is on the grill.


¾ cup of warm water
1 teaspoon active-dry or instant yeast
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup tomato sauce
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, evenly sliced
1 cup arugula
6 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced

1. Pour the water and yeast into a small bowl. Stir until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture resembles thin soup, then pour it into a large mixing bowl with the flour and salt and mix until you've formed a shaggy dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface — I like to use a marble pastry board. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, then place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel for 90 minutes.

2. Preheat grill to high, preferably to at least 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the middle of your grill and allow it to heat for at least 30 minutes. (You can also use a standard sheet pan.)

3. Tear off 2 pieces of parchment paper roughly 12 inches wide. Divide the dough in half and use the heel of your hand to stretch each half on a piece of parchment paper until it's about ¼-inch thick — don't worry if they're not perfect circles.

4. Spoon half the sauce into the center of each pizza and spread it out to the edges, then top each pizza with cheese. Slide the first pizza, including parchment paper, onto your pizza stone or sheet pan, and allow to cook until the dough releases from the parchment paper, about 5 minutes. Carefully slide out the parchment paper, then continue to cook the pizza until the cheese begins to bubble and brown, about 3-5 minutes. Top with half of the prosciutto and arugula. Repeat the process for the second pizza.

5. Let each pizza cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled Oysters with Chorizo

Don't be afraid of grilling oysters! They're easier to cook than you think, and topping them with spicy chorizo and butter makes for a mouthwatering appetizer. Try to find larger oysters — they're less likely to dry out.


6 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo, casing removed
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt, to taste
18 large oysters, scrubbed

1. Preheat grill to high.

2. Cook the chorizo in a cast-iron skillet, breaking it up with a spoon until the meat has browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Add a tablespoon of water to the skillet and simmer, then add a few cubes of butter at a time, whisking constantly, until melted. Add the crumbled chorizo and lime juice and season with salt, then set aside.

4. Place the oysters on the grill over direct heat, flat side up, and close the lid. Cook until the shells open slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter and carefully remove the top shell using a small knife or a screwdriver. Spoon the chorizo and butter mixture onto the oysters and serve immediately.

Grilled Veggie-Stuffed Portobello

When I was a kid, we didn't see nearly enough vegetables, but now I can't get enough of them. This is a great meatless centerpiece for a healthy summer night of grilling.


3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons cilantro, chopped
¼ cup lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed, gills cut out and discarded
1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ½-inch thick strips
1 red or orange bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, halved and seeded
½ red onion, halved
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1. Whisk balsamic vinegar, olive oil, thyme, cilantro, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.

2. Preheat grill to medium-high.

3. Add the portobello mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and onion to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat.

4. When your grill is hot, cook the mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and onion over direct heat until grill marks begin to appear, about 6-8 minutes per side.

5. When zucchini, peppers, and onions are cool enough to handle, dice them into bite-size pieces and toss them back into the dressing. Plate portobello mushroom caps upside down and fill them with the diced vegetables, then add salt and black pepper to taste.

Tomato and Herb Frittata

Baking in your grill with a cast-iron skillet is a great alternative to using your oven, especially during long, hot summers. This satisfying egg dish is easy to make and uses ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.


5-7 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
¼ cup fresh herbs, such as parley, thyme, or chives
½tomato, sliced
¾ cup Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat grill to high.

2. Beat eggs, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl and set aside.

3. Grease the bottom and sides of the cast-iron skillet with vegetable oil, then place on the grill to warm. When the pan is hot, saute onion and green pepper over direct heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

4. Add garlic, spinach, and diced tomatoes to the pan and saute for another 2-3 minutes.

5. Pour the eggs into the pan and stir to evenly combine all the ingredients. Place sliced tomatoes across the top and sprinkle entire pan with cheese.

6. Move the pan over indirect heat and close the lid. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the frittata has set and the top is slightly browned. Allow the frittata to cool, in the skillet, for 5 minutes before slicing.

Bruschetta with grilled bell peppers, zucchini, olives, and mozzarella

Bruschetta is a fool-proof appetizer for when you're hosting a group of people. Grilled peppers and zucchini brings in the feel of summer.


1 zucchine, sliced
1 red bell pepper, quartered
1 orange bell pepper, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 loaf Italian bread or baguette, sliced
6 black olives
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
¾ cup basil
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat grill to medium.

2. Add the zucchini, bell peppers, and olive oil to a large bowl and toss to evenly coat.

3. When your grill is hot, transfer the vegetables to a perforated grill pan over direct heat and cook, turning occasionally, until nicely charred, about 3-5 minutes. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, slice each quarter in half.

4. Brush the bread slices with olive oil, then toast on your grill. Transfer the bread to a large platter and top each slice with zucchini, peppers, olives, mozzarella, and basil. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Spiced and Smoky Nuts

Baseball and peanuts go hand in hand, but this is a great way to add some flavor and variety to what can be an ordinary snack. You can use a mix of almonds, pecans, cashews, or any other nuts you enjoy.


1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
2 cups salted nuts
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Soak 3-4 cups of wood chunks in cold water for 45-60 minutes and then drain.

2. Preheat grill to medium.

3. Mix the brown sugar, thyme, cayenne pepper, and mustard powder in a small bowl.

4. Pour the nuts into a disposable foil roasting pan, then drizzle with olive oil. Add the seasoning mixture and toss to coat evenly, spreading the nuts out in a single layer.

5. Transfer the wood chips to a smoker box or vented foil pouch and heat until they begin to smoke. Place the pan of nuts on the indirect side of the grill and close the lid. Cook until the nuts are toasted, about 20-30 minutes, stirring the nuts every so often to avoid burning.

6. Let the nuts cool in the pan before serving.

Cheesy Grilled Mussels

Mussels make for a great appetizer when there's a crowd around. You can get them cleaned and debearded at any good seafood counter.


¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ onion, shredded
24 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat grill to medium.

2. Add the butter, cheese, garlic, and onions to a bowl, then mix to combine.

3. When your grill is hot, cook the mussels over direct heat, with the lid closed, until their shells open, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer them to a platter, discarding any mussels that did not open. Place a cast-iron pan on the grill and close the lid.

4. When the mussels are cool enough to handle, crack off the top shell and spoon some of the cheese mixture over each. Carefully place the mussels shell side down in the cast-iron pan, in batches if necessary, and cook with the lid closed until the cheese is bubbling, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.



Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan and Sea Salt

Grilling asparagus brings out the vegetable's natural flavor, is easy to do, and makes for a versatile side dish. It works equally well with chicken and steaks as it does with a hearty piece of salmon or tuna.


1 pound asparagus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced or grated
Sea salt, to taste

1. Preheat grill to high.

2. Slice off the bottom 2 inches of the asparagus spears, then toss them in a bowl with the olive oil and black pepper until evenly coated.

3. When your grill is hot, place the asparagus spears diagonally across the grill grates. Cook over direct heat, turning frequently, until all sides are nicely charred, about 8-10 minutes. Increase or decrease the cooking time, depending on how firm you prefer your asparagus.

4. Place the asparagus on a large plate and sprinkle with the cheese and sea salt.


Excerpted from The Big Hurt's Guide to BBQ and Grilling by Frank Thomas. Copyright © 2016 Frank Thomas. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Grilling Basics,
Grand Slam Grilled Grapes,
Grilled Avocados with Tomato and Cheese,
Grilled Pizza with Prosciutto and Arugula,
Grilled Oysters with Chorizo,
Grilled Veggie-Stuffed Portobello,
Tomato and Herb Frittata,
Bruschetta with grilled bell peppers, zucchini, olives, and,
Spiced and Smoky Nuts,
Cheesy Grilled Mussels,
Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan and Sea Salt,
Grilled Potato Salad,
Grilled Tomato Gazpacho,
Grilled Sweet Potatoes,
Skillet Mac and Cheese,
Foil Pouch Green Beans and Onions,
"Hot" Grilled Broccoli,
Burgers, Hot Dogs and Sausages,
Beer-Braised Brats with Sauerkraut,
Bison Burger,
Chicago-Style All-Beef Char Dog,
Fried Egg Bacon Burger,
Sirloin-and-Brisket Burger with Roquefort Cheese and,
Caramelized Onions,
Roasted Poblano Cheeseburgers with Avocado,
Southern Style Burger with Collard Greens and Green Tomatoes,
Zesty Black Bean Pumpkin Burgers,
Southern Favorites,
Barbecue Chicken with Alabama White BBQ Sauce,
Buttered Cast-Iron Cornbread,
Classic BBQ Baked Beans,
Grilled Gumbo,
Grilled Okra with Chipotle Sauce,
Hoppin' John,
Louisiana Deep-Fried Ribs,
Grilled Green Tomatoes Caprese Salad,
Beef Ribs,
Beef Tenderloin with Arugula and Shaved Parmesan,
Cold-Smoked New York Strip Steaks,
Grilled Smoky Meatloaf,
Mustard-Crusted Steak Kebabs,
Red-Wine-Marinated Ribeye,
Herb-Crusted Rib Roast,
Easy Grilled Brisket,
Grilled Lemon-Basil Pork Chops,
Pork Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce,
Smoked Pork Shoulder with Spicy Tomatoes,
Pulled Pork Sandwiches,
Spicy Tacos al Pastor,
Spicy Southwestern Ham Steak,
Grilled Pork Tenderloin Sandwich with Carolina Mustard Sauce,
Big Hurt's Beer Can Chicken,
Devil's Chicken Thighs,
Grilled Turkey Legs,
Grilled Chicken and Peaches Salad,
BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Bacon Paste,
Honey Sriracha Chicken Drumsticks,
Lemon-Lime Soda Chicken Wings,
Sweet Chili Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Tenders,
Grilled Organic Turkey Breast,
Blackened Shrimp Tacos,
Grilled Catfish with Quinoa and Radish Salad,
Grilled Octopus Skewers,
Tuna Steak with Wrinkled Potatoes,
Maple-Glazed Salmon,
About the Author,

Customer Reviews