By Herb Gardener.
My first encounter with grill guru Steven Raichlen came one Saturday afternoon several years ago when I caught an episode of his Public Broadcasting Service TV program, BBQ University(r).
A dry rubbed pork loin wrapped in bacon, basted with a viscous butter, bourbon, mustard and brown sugar glaze, emerged from his grill with a glistening char ready to accept a southern sweet barbecue sauce featuring fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
The result appeared sublime and the route surprisingly accessible. I have been auditing Raichlen’s TV classes and reading his books ever since.
Award-winning author, Fulbright scholar and world traveler Steven Raichlen is a master of “live fire cooking,” a phrase that summons in me associations both theatrical and menacing.
For Raichlen, however, live fire cooking is simply a rubric for various methods of grilling: direct, indirect, smoking, spit roasting, roasting in leaves or embers (think New England clambake).
His classic manual How to Grill provides the aspiring pit master with essential techniques and information for success via 1,000 color photos and step-by-step instruction. It is Raichlen’s emphasis on process – how to set up a three-tiered grill, how to tell if a steak is done, how to spatchcock a chicken – that makes this encyclopedic work so invaluable to the backyard enthusiast.
Consistent with the Internet age Raichlen is an aggregator. Through circuits of the world’s barbecue trail he has amassed considerable knowledge of live fire cooking recipes across time and space. Whether describing the preparation of a Kansas City-style rub or a South African grill jockey’s favorite slather (monkey gland sauce), Raichlen pays homage to the regions and cultures where flame and smoke prevail.
I suggest How to Grill, followed by other titles in Raichlen’s Barbecue Bible series for the father who craves authentic grilling experiences from down home to down under.
-Flavors And More Magazine: June 2009