Whether it’s a lazy summer Sunday afternoon or a steamy weekday evening, it’s always a good time to grill. But there’s a huge difference between smoking brisket, firing up some burgers, or throwing a pizza on the grate. Each dish requires the right tools, techniques, and recipe to ensure you get the best results boasting the maximum flavor. To give you some guidance for those days you can’t make it to your favorite BBQ restaurant, we’ve rounded up five great grilling cookbooks to add sizzle to your grill game ahead of the 4th of July – and all summer long. You can thank the chefs – and us – later. It’s also totally acceptable to show your appreciation by inviting us over for dinner.
Build Your Own Burger: BYOB
You need this burger bible. Penned by Jeff Rossman, executive chef of San Diego’s Terra American Bistro (and the cheeky burger concept Bunz), Build Your Own Burger: BYOB is the ultimate DIY hamburger helper. The book begins with two-dozen types of patty recipes, including beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, fish, vegetarian, and vegan. You can build on those bases with killer condiments, such as ancho chile mustard, smoked Gouda and tomato cream, and peach serrano salsa. The cookbook also includes salads, sides, and sips (boozy and kid-friendly), as well as burger-beer pairing tips.
Grilled Pizza the Right Way: The Best Technique for Cooking Incredible Tasting Pizza & Flatbread on Your Barbecue Perfectly Chewy & Crispy Every Time
Here’s a new way to use your Weber. Transform it into a pizza oven. John Delpha, chef at Rosebud American Kitchen in Somerville, Massachusetts, teaches you the tricks in Grilled Pizza the Right Way: The Best Technique for Cooking Incredible Tasting Pizza & Flatbread on Your Barbecue Perfectly Chewy & Crispy Every Time The book includes nearly 100 recipes, ranging from classic ‘zas – Margherita, pepperoni, quattro stagione (four seasons) – to more unexpected options, like lamb and blue cheese, gyro with tzatziki, and a Thanksgiving-inspired round. There are even several sweet pizzas – blueberry-ricotta, strawberry-Nutella, and banana-caramel-cream-cheese. No matter which one you choose, expect to have a fight erupt over who gets the last slice.
Low & Slow 2: The Art of Barbecue, Smoke-Roasting, and Basic Curing
Barbecuing may look simple – start fire, toss meat on grill, drink bourbon, ta-dah! – but it’s truly an art form. That’s why Low & Slow 2: The Art of Barbecue, Smoke-Roasting, and Basic Curing is required reading. Written by Gary Wiviott, pitmaster at Barn and Company in Chicago, the book walks you through every step of the process – from picking out your cooker and stocking your pantry to choosing your cuts and expertly executing a variety of recipes. All the standards are present and accounted for, but you should try something less expected, such as goose breast pastrami, smoke-roasted Baltimore pit beef, or hot smoke-roasted soft shell crabs.
Slow Fires: Mastering New Ways to Braise, Roast, and Grill
Though this grilling guidebook won’t be published until November 3, it’s worth putting on your Amazon Wish List now. Chef Justin Smillie of Upland in New York City rethinks classic techniques in Slow Fires: Mastering New Ways to Braise, Roast, and Grill. Expect the Italian-influenced recipes to include pepper-braised chicken legs, peppercorn-crusted short ribs, and braised snapper. We’re already salivating.
Wicked Good Burgers: Fearless Recipes and Uncompromising Techniques for the Ultimate Patty
Here’s another must-have tome if you want to craft blue-ribbon burgers. Wicked Good Burgers: Fearless Recipes and Uncompromising Techniques for the Ultimate Patty by Andy Husbands, chef-owner of Boston’s Tremont 647, gives you the lowdown on creating highbrow hamburgers. He starts out by teaching readers how to grind meat, shape patties, and choose the right equipment. From there, you’re given plenty of recipes for toppings and condiments, spanning the spectrum from dilled salmon roe to tomato-ginger ketchup. On top of that, there are chapters devoted to a variety of fries (duck fat fries, rah-rah!) and frosty frappes and floats (the ginger beer float with coconut ice cream is the perfect cure-all for a blisteringly hot summer’s day).
Want to a try before you buy? Book a table to sample the best new barbecue dishes at one of these restaurants. Then, let us know which techniques you’ll be tackling on your home grill here or over on Facebook, G+, or Twitter.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell.