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BOOK REVIEW

Grill like a champion in carnivore country in revolutionary ways!

By Doug Mosley
doug_mosley@hotmail.com

Happy Oktoberfest to one and all! What a great time of year to celebrate and it doesn’t matter if you have any German roots in your family tree. Let’s hoist one together and join in another rousing sing-a-long of “Ein Prosit”, or perhaps we’ll all strut our stuff to “Vogerltanz” (aka, The Chicken Dance).

And now I’m sure there are know-it-alls out there who’ve read through that first paragraph and thought to themselves, “Oktoberfest in Germany is in September”. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Killjoy. It just doesn’t make much sense to write an Oktoberfest column in September. So go with it, especially since I have a great book to tell you about and it’s from Germany.

Many of you already know competition barbecue is a big thing in Germany. Check out the Facebook page KCBS in Europe to see news of the various competitions. I know there have been several U.S. teams who have crossed the Atlantic to take part in German BBQ Association events. The GBBQA turned 20 years old this year and just last month held its championship event where Michael Hoffmann and his team, Gut Glut, became the first three-time winners of the title.

There’s also been some really good barbecue books from Germany, although I have to wait until there is an English-language version to be able to tell you about them in this space (probably because I don’t speak and/or read German). Last year there was the excellent The Big Smoker Book which was written by Karsten Aschenbrandt and Rudolf Jaeger, and now Jaeger is back as the editor of Grilling Like a Champion ($34.99, Schiffer Publishing, 232 pp.).

Grilling Like a Champion was originally released in Germany in 2010 under the title Grillen wie die Weltmeister and was translated to English by Christine Marie Elliston. I recognize her work because Grilling Like a Champion reads very smoothly, which is sometimes not the case with books where the translation isn’t done in a detailed manner. At the same time, the process wasn’t forced to the point where every word and phrase had to be Americanized, thus you do see many of the terms that are unique to German barbecue.

Grilling Like a Champion sprang forth from a German grill club blog. It’s written much like a detailed instruction manual and opens with 83 pages of introduction, information and techniques. Its strong point is how it illustrates all this with plenty of full-color pictures, some in a step-by-step manner, and an easy-to-follow layout.

The second part of the book is the recipes and this is where the real fun begins. There are plenty of the familiar (Baby Back Ribs, Brisket, Leg of Lamb, Salmon Fillet on a Beech Plank, Beer Butt Chicken) and then there is a lot of what could very well be new to you: Prince Pan over Beech Fire, Knuckle of Pork, Pork Wellington, Old English Beer Casserole, to name a few. There’s no exotic ingredients that would keep you from trying any of these and the recipes have even been converted from metric measurements to our preferred pounds, ounces, tablespoons, teaspoons and cups.
Unless you’re a stickler for the facts, I think this month is a great time for an Oktoberfest party and this book will serve you well as your guide to cooking like a German barbecue champion. Ein prosit!

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I hope by now you’ve enjoyed the tasty pleasure of cooking from Karen Adler and Judith Fertig’s new book, Patio Pizzeria: Artisan Pizza & Flatbreads on the Grill, which I had the privilege of telling you about back in June. Doing pizzas on the grill is always a lot of fun, especially when you start getting creative with the toppings you assemble for each one. There was a pizza-on-the-grill party at my house a few years ago that got particularly creative after a few cold ones and the end result was a “test your manhood” pizza that included Buffalo chicken and Scotch bonnet peppers (one attendee swears to this day that his taste buds were permanently damaged after that one).

Assuming you’ve now master pizza on the grill and you’re seeking to expand your horizons, let me suggest to you an excellent book that will provide plenty of new ideas – Revolutionary Pizza: Bold Pies That Will Change Your Life…and Dinner, by Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau ($19.99, Page Street Publishing, 158 pp.). Syrkin-Nikolau is the owner of Dimo’s Pizza, a Chicago joint that has made its name for its creative pizzas, heavy emphasis on creative. Seriously, I thought I could come up with some pretty off-the-wall combinations for my own creations but what is offered up in this book tops anything I’ve ever seen.

After opening with a very useful chapter on making pizza, the book heads into six chapters of recipes. The first, Pizzatizers, focuses on recipes that evoke familiar appetizers or opening courses: Spinach Artichoke Dip, Salad Pizza. The next chapter is Deconstructed Diner and involves diner favorites: Steak ‘n’ Eggs, Chicken ‘n’ Waffles, Grilled Cheese with Tomatoes. The chapter titled Comfort Cravings is all about comfort foods: Momma’s Meatloaf, Thanksgiving Leftovers Pie. Main Course Meals has an international flair: Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Poutine, Gyro. The one on local faves is Chicago Staples: Chi-Style Hot Dog, Italian Beef. And it closes out with a chapter on Mexican-inspired pie, Comida Caliente: Fish Taco, Chicken Enchilada Quesadilla.

Pizza on the grill is awesome and there’s practically no combination that won’t work. If you’re ready to take your pizza-making game to the next level, you’re ready for Revolutionary Pizza.

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Do you ever find yourself needing a great recipe for moose? Or how about when you come across a great deal on alligator and just don’t know what to do with it? Perhaps you have a freezer full of wild hog that just needs to be eaten up, just what do you do? Do you have a go-to resource for these instances? Well, if you didn’t, I have a recommendation for you.

Carnivore Country: The Meat Eater’s Family Cookbook by Trisha Mickler and Toby Benoit ($24.95, Pelican Publishing, 176 pp.) is most likely the definitive guide to cooking the widest variety of meats. If you need a plan on how to cook rabbit, squirrel, armadillo, iguana or just about anything else, then this is the book for you.

Authors Mickler and Benoit are each Florida-based outdoorsmen who’ve likely earned their chops by stalking everything in this book for which they present a recipe. What they’ve created together is truly unique, because I don’t believe you’re going to find another book that includes recipes like Smoked Pheasant, Wild Hog Jambalaya, Grilled Gulf Coast Shark, Spicy Grilled Venison Medallions, Backwood Moose Roast, Iguana Tacos, Spicy Possum Barbecue, Honey Barbecued Raccoon and Rattlesnake Stew. Need an idea for a dish with caribou? It’s in these pages. Quail? Check. Bison? Yep. Elk, frog, dove or turtle? Got all those covered as well.

I really enjoy cookbooks that take a very specific idea or examine a niche, then expand on that to create a wide range of dishes under that thought. Not long ago I’d shared with you a book that took one main dish and then created several follow up dishes by using the leftovers. Another sought to minimize ingredients while others focus on specific techniques. Now let me tell you about a new book that focuses on dishes that maximize flavor without going to the extreme in techniques or ingredients. It’s Easy Gourmet: Awesome Recipes Anyone Can Cook by Stephanie Le ($21.99, Page Street Publishing, 240 pp.).

Le is the creator of iamafoodblog.com and she is one of the lastest of a growing number of authors who rise to acclaim online first. In Easy Gourmet, the recipes she presents are either from or similar to the posts on her blog. It’s no wonder her concept (for the blog and the book) has been popular, what with the public’s continued strong interest in the cable television cooking channels and the convenient access to once hard-to-find ingredients.
From Breakfast to Dessert, the chapters cover all the topics in a straightforward manner. Most recipes are presented in a two-page spread that includes a full-color picture of the finished dish, but Le did take an additional step with a recipe like Porchetta to take an extra couple of pages to detail the assembly of the pork roll.

There are a lot of fun recipes here, including the likes of Pulled Pork Pancakes (with Bourbon Syrup), Sweet & Savory Slow-Roasted Pork Belly, Maple-Glazed Duck, Roasted Jalapeno Chili and much, much more. No doubt if you’re seeking maximum presentation for your efforts, this book is a great choice for you.

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