Backyard Barbecue: Seven New Books for Summer

With the first hints of warm weather, home chefs start dreaming about a good grill char. Since classics like Steven Raichlen’s The Barbecue! Bible provide excellent all-in-one access to barbecuing basics, the best new titles explore niche subjects like regional cuisine and specialty equipment. This summer, even vegans, foodies, and restaurant lovers will find a place at the barbecue.

Char-Broil’s Grilling Chicken and Veggies. ISBN 9781580115452.
Char-Broil’s Grilling Surf and Turf. ISBN 9781580115445.
ea. vol: Creative Homeowner. 2012. 176p. photogs. index. pap. $14.95. COOKING

Grill manufacturer Char-Broil obviously has a vested interest in promoting its products, and the introductory section in both of these titles is off-putting product placement thinly disguised as cooking tips. On the plus side, the series features cheerful colors, handy color-coded organization, and easy recipes that will appeal to grilling novices. The dessert section of Chicken and Veggies is more creative than that of many other books; however, this chapter and one on sides are substantially similar in both of these titles. VERDICT Beginning grillers or those seeking familiar, unfussy foods will find these books approachable but not inspiring.

Davis, Ardie A. & Paul Kirk. America’s Best Ribs: Tips and Recipes for Easy, Lip-Smacking, Pull-Off-the-Bone, Pass-the-Sauce, Championship-Quality BBQ Ribs at Home. Andrews McMeel. May 2012. c.160p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781449414139. pap. $19.99. COOKING

For many devotees, barbecue means only one thing‚ ribs. And Davis and Kirk (coauthors, America’s Best BBQ) have plenty of wisdom and personality to share, from a well-researched version of classic baby back ribs to regional specialties like West Bottoms Glazed Smoked Beef Short Ribs and Smoked Memphis-Style Spareribs. After a solid grounding in pork and beef variations, the authors cover less familiar territory like mutton and bison. The opening chapter on rib basics is text-heavy but informative. VERDICT Carnivores will rejoice at Davis and Kirk’s newest collaboration.

Devon, Bob. The Complete Wood Pellet Barbecue Cookbook. Square One. 2012. c.160p. index. ISBN 9780757003370. pap. $17.95. COOKING

Because there are few other books on this specialized topic, wood pellet fans will be thrilled. Enthusiast Devon first explains the basics of equipment and methods. The impressive, easy-to-follow recipes are designed to coax the most flavor out of a variety of meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes, and they will inspire cooks using any type of grill. Devon also includes informative tidbits such as wine pairings. Discerning grill chefs will love the rubs, sauces, and marinades.VERDICT This excellent cookbook should not be overlooked because of its specialized title and plain, text-based appearance.

Pellegrino, Frank, Jr. Rao’s on the Grill: Perfectly Simple Italian Recipes from My Family to Yours. St. Martin‘s. May 2012. c.176p. photogs. ISBN 9781250006271. $35. COOKING

Most of us will never sit at one of the ten tables at legendary Manhattan eatery Rao’s. The restaurant’s third cookbook (after Rao’s Recipes from the Neighborhood) offers grilled takes on signature dishes. These are mostly simple, sophisticated upgrades to familiar Italian comfort foods, such as Broccoli Rabe White Pizza and Grilled Veal Chops with Hot and Sweet Cherry Peppers. Recipes are accompanied by family and restaurant anecdotes. VERDICT With quality cuisine and name recognition, this will be popular with foodies and restaurant aficionados.

starred review starReynaud, Stéphane (text) & Marie-Pierre Morel (photogs.) & José Reis de Matos (illus.). Stéphane Reynaud’s Barbecue and Grill. Lyons: Globe Pequot. 2012. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9780762778959. pap. $27.95. COOKING

Reynaud (Pork & Sons) returns with another culinary eye-opener for the adventurous gourmand. He expertly balances edgier offerings (Veal Sweetbread Skewers, Kidney on Licorice) with scrumptious takes on familiar favorites. Foodies will appreciate the homemade sausage, Indian and Asian flavors, and en vogue ingredients like rabbit. VERDICT Tongue-in-cheek line drawings and impeccably simple, full-color photographs contribute to the hipster aesthetic of this visual feast. Boldly styled but approachable, perfectly on-trend but with enduring value‚ a standout.

Schlimm, John. Grilling Vegan Style: 125 Fired-Up Recipes To Turn Every Bite into a Backyard BBQ. Da Capo Lifelong. May 2012. c.256p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780738215723. pap. $20. COOKING

This collection of vegan recipes for the grill is complete with unconventional flavors like Golden Tandoori Seitan, creative vegetable classics like Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime and Pepper Sauce, and vegetarian versions of meaty favorites. An adequate chapter on grilling basics is followed by an excellent one on preparing tofu, tempeh, seitan, and fruits and vegetables. A well-developed section on cocktails is not surprising from Schlimm (The Tipsy Vegan) but unusual among barbecue books. VERDICT With the heavy emphasis most grilling cookbooks place on meat, vegetarians and vegans may feel resigned to potato salad. Happily, this title delivers a varied, full slate of meal options.

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  1. Bob Devon says:

    I want to thank you for the terrific review of my book, The Complete Wood Pellet Barbeque Cookbook. I was very happy to read the opinions of the reviewer and was “over the moon” with the Verdict. This book was a labor of love and a tribute to my parents and grandparents. I want to follow this book up with a second one because there is more to share from the treasure trove of gourmet family recipes.

    Thank you again.