Recommendations for a "grilling bible" for beginners?
May 23, 2014 2:25 AM   Subscribe

The wife and I got a gas grill a while back, but have procrastinated with actually starting to use it, since we'd like to learn to use it properly first. What are the best grilling resources you know?

We'd like to learn everything from preparing the food and condiments to grilling the stuff to equipment maintenance. We're not helpless in the kitchen, but on the grilling front we really need some pointers to get good at it without wasting a lot of good meat in the process.

Grilling/BBQ seems like a topic where a lot of people have a lot of strong and often contradictory opinions, not necessarily entirely based on solid information. So in an effort to avoid a bunch of silly mistakes and ruined meals, we turn to Ask MeFi for guidance: can you recommend clear, authoritative literature or web sites that can take us from BBQ beginners to (semi-)pros?

(I like the approach that Serious Eats takes in cutting through BS with extensive experimentation. Intellectual rigor preferred over old wives' tales where possible.)
posted by jklaiho to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer:

It's not just ribs. There's experience in his recommendations.
posted by bernardbeta at 3:33 AM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'm in the middle of reading an older edition of Steven Raichlen's The Barbecue! Bible. What I like about it is that he presents a lot of different recipes and viewpoints on the "right way" to grill, and also has tips on fire building and grill maintenance. It's not terribly scientific, so it may not be what you're looking for. it's more an overview of lots of different techniques.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 4:32 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding any of Raichlen's books, but especially The Bible as it seems to be exactly what you're looking for.
posted by yerfatma at 4:56 AM on May 23, 2014

Best answer: You want intellectual rigor? You want The Cook's Illustrated's Guide to Grilling and Barbecue.
posted by bcwinters at 5:36 AM on May 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

Thirding the Bible. I like the way he gives advice, anecdotes and techniques from different cultures around the world and how they cook over live fire. One of my favorite books ever.
posted by Che boludo! at 5:52 AM on May 23, 2014

Seconding Cook's Illustrated, especially as they adapt all their recipes for both coal and gas and albeit with the standard disclaimer.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:10 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Serious BBQ by Adam Perry Lang.
posted by hush at 6:16 AM on May 23, 2014

Response by poster: Ooh, plenty of good stuff this quickly. I'll have to look at these in detail. I'll probably mark "best answers" somewhat sporadically and based on quick previews and gut feelings, so don't be offended if I overlook your suggestion.

Laughing out loud at that Cook's Illustrated disclaimer video. I like a precise, engineering-type approach (I'm a software developer; big surprise there) but I think I'll need to skim the book before buying it :-)
posted by jklaiho at 6:35 AM on May 23, 2014

I think you have some good suggestions for books and resources, but I would like to suggest that you may be over-thinking this a bit. It's fire and meat (and hunger), which predates the written word (and maybe the spoken) by a fair bit and science by much more than that. Grilling is maybe even encoded in our DNA, epi-genetically.

My advice would be to choose an easy-seeming recipe from one of the noted resources and get started right away -- this weekend, in fact, which is the traditional kick-off of grilling/BBQ season across much of the country -- and follow the recipe, but also follow the smoke and the grease and your gut. You'll do fine and dinner will be delicious.
posted by notyou at 6:50 AM on May 23, 2014

YES. And also their Memphis Dust is transcendent. My mother-in-law claims it treated her Crohn's. Even if that's hyperbole, the ribs--cooked on a two-burner gas grill, no less!--were some of the best I've ever had, and certainly the best I've ever made.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:58 AM on May 23, 2014

not barbecue-specific, but Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Meat Book has really solid information on cuts, methods, temperatures, etc. As someone who came of age as a vegetarian but has since returned to meat it has been a key resource for me.
posted by Makwa at 7:31 AM on May 23, 2014

Good suggestions but seconding notyou, fire it up. Mistakes will be made, different tastes will appear, but it's all good. If it's a bit rare for someone, toss it back on.
posted by sammyo at 8:26 AM on May 23, 2014

I also just got a gas grill and the Bon Appetit Grilling Book. It has a ton of delicious looking recipes. The recipes I've made have ranged from amazing to 'the marinade was good but I probably should have used the cut off meat they called for.'
posted by carolr at 8:27 AM on May 23, 2014

My grill came with a tiny little cookbook, and I've been using their one recipe for steak for years. What's nice is that it tells you things specific to your own grill that you won't read in general cookbooks -- for example: "Turn all burners to high. When the maximum temperature is reached, put steak over the middle burner. Cook for 2 minutes, then flip, and cook for two more minutes. Then turn off the middle burner and cook until it's done to your liking." Followed by a chart of meat thickness / duration. If you no longer have the book you can probably get it online. (Here's one that's not dissimilar from the one for my own grill.)

If you do the same, you'll be sure that you're getting the right timings for your own equipment and not those for some random person's quirky charcoal hibachi. Master that and you can adjust other recipes accordingly.
posted by rouftop at 10:19 AM on May 23, 2014

The thing with a gas grill is to learn to trust it. Set the temperature, put your meat in, and then keep it closed. Every time you open it, heat goes away. You will need to experiment with timing how long to get your meat perfect (for me on my weber with 2" thick NY strips it's temp all the way up, two minutes, flip, eight minutes, flip 90deg (for crossed grill marks), 30s - 2min depending on desired temperature).
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:35 AM on May 23, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody. Enough here that I can confidently mark this solved.
posted by jklaiho at 11:22 AM on May 23, 2014

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