It’s time to get your grill on. Memorial Day – the unofficial start of the summer grilling season – is creeping up fast. This year, there are tons of new grilling cookbooks out there to get you fired up. With recipes for steaks, pizzas, seafood and more, there’s a book to suit just about any taste. Here’s a sampling to whet your appetite. In addition to helpful tips, each features lots of mouth-watering recipes that’ll make your cookouts sizzle this summer.
“Weber’s Big Book of Burgers: The Ultimate Guide to Grilling Backyard Classics”
By Jamie Purviance (Sunset, $21.95)
The thrust of this book is burgers – but not just plain old beef burgers. Weber grilling guru Jaime Purviance covers just about anything that can be shaped into a patty and served on a bun or a variety of breads and rolls. There are recipes for beef burgers, chicken and turkey burgers, shrimp burgers and an array of veggie burgers. Hot dogs, sausages, brats and condiments also are featured along with drinks and side dishes.
Best tip: Don’t crowd food on the grill. “All food cooks a little better on a grill with a little space around,” Purviance writes.
“Gastro Grilling: Fired-up Recipes to Grill Great Everyday Meals”
By Ted Reader (Pintail, $25)
Ted Reader writes that he uses the word “gastro” not to mean pretentious, but rather to refer to “the art and science of good eating.” That mantra is reflected in the book’s recipes (there are more than 135 of them). The recipes range from higher-end dishes like Planked Smoked Burrata Cheese or Cinnamon-Skewered Scallops with Brown Sugar Basting Butter to simpler ones for steak, chicken, fish and side dishes. Reader also offers directions and tips for cooking with charcoal and gas grills as well as a variety of wood.
Best tip: Patience and practice are key when using charcoal grills. Look for charcoal made from 100% all-natural pure hard-wood.
“Pizza on the Grill: 100+ Feisty Fire-Roasted Recipes for Pizza & More”
By Elizabeth Karmel & Bob Blumer (Taunton Press, $17.95)
Grilled pizza can be tricky, but authors Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer provide all the know-how you need for success. They share tips on making dough, including a gluten-free option, as well as how to shape it for a gas grill versus a charcoal one (yes, there’s a difference). Several recipes call for adding nuts, garlic or herbs to the dough. Each recipe includes drinks to serve with the pizzas and ways to customize them or kick them up a few notches.
Best tip: Create organic shaped pizza to fit the heat source and be sure to brush rolled-out dough generously with oil to prevent it from sticking to the grates.
“Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue”
By Cheryl and Bill Jamison (Harvard Common Press, $24.95)
This is the updated version of Cheryl and Bill Jamison’s 1994 grilling tome. The barbecue masters and James Beard Cookbook award winners completely revised their book to include new recipes and full color photographs. There’s more than 450 recipes from all barbecue regions of the U.S. The book is divided into sections on beef, pork and poultry. The Jamisons also cover the craft of true barbecue, offering tips on using smoke and cooking foods low and slow. They also address the trend of smoking foods indoors.
Best tip: Have an area for cutting, prepping and keeping supplies and sauces at hand when cooking outdoors.
“Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue”
By Melissa Cookston (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $22.99)
Pitmaster and restaurateur Melissa Cookston writes that her “barbecue and cooking are about building layered tastes that unite on flavored effect.” And her cookbook provides mouth-watering recipes from the Delta region that do just that. Cookston also includes her competition recipes, plenty of tips, stories from the barbecue competition circuit and even a recipe for cooking a whole hog. Peppered throughout are recipes for injection sauces, glazes, seasonings and rubs.
Best tip: “Sauces should complement the meat, not overpower it, and certainly never conflict with it,” Cookston writes.
“Fire & Smoke: A Pitmaster’s Secrets”
By Chris Lilly (Clarkson Potter, $24.99)
Chris Lilly set out to share pitmaster techniques, tips and recipes on a scale best suited for backyard grillers. Instead of offering large-quantity recipes like many pitmasters do, Lilly provides recipes and guidance on achieving pitmaster-style barbecue using smaller cuts of meat. There also are tips on how to infuse flavor and get that perfectly charred skin. Included are more than 100 recipes designed to teach people how to grill and smoke foods. Lilly also shares recipes for rubs, brines and glazes.
Best tip: Lilly writes that “metal smoker boxes are a viable way to add real smoke flavor” if you use a gas grill and want to add wood smoke flavoring.