â€œPeople love barbeque. The combination of fire, smoke, salt, and meat is probably the first recipe that humans ever discovered. Even vegetarians are programmed to love meat prepared this way: they choose not to eat it, which just leaves more for the rest of us.â€ (Forward, page IX)
It quickly becomes clear Charred & Scruffed: Bold new techniques for explosive flavor on and off the grill is not a normal cookbook. This is as 280 page cookbook with serious attitude.Â Adam Perry Lang does barbequing and grilling quite a bit differently than the way most of us gave been taught through family traditions. If the forward written by his coauthor Peter Kaminsky does not make that clear, Adam Perry Lang does in the introduction when he states he actively moves the meat and checks it constantly while cooking. That is totally opposite to long standing belief that when cooking meat on a grill you just have it leave it alone. As the rest of the book will make clear that isnâ€™t the only change he makes.
Before getting to the actual recipes, various different ideas are explained in â€œPart 1: The Theory and Practice of Barbeque.â€Â This section goes from page 2 to page 27 and covers various topics such as his preferred four seasonings (salt, black pepper, garlic salt, and cayenne), scuffing the meat so that the taste fills the nooks and crannies better, basting, layering flavor, working the heat correctly, and other points of interest. Along with the informative text there are plenty of pictures of food and Adam Perry Lang in action using his techniques.
Recipes begin with â€œPart II: Meat, Fish, and Fowlâ€ on page 28. He opens with â€œclassicsâ€ as he defines them such as â€œMan Steak With Thyme Zinfandel Saltâ€ on pages 34-39. Along with the recipe and detailed instructions (with pictures) of the cooking process, there are tips and pictures of how to clean the grill while cooking so that the meat is properly cooked. This is done while the meat is on a â€œpause breakâ€ resting away from the grill after the crust has formed on the outside of the meat. In addition to this recipe there are six other detailed recipes here in the â€œclassicsâ€ part of part II.
â€œHigh and Slowâ€ comes next starting on page 50 and throws the age old mantra of â€œlow and slowâ€ away.Â Instead, he believes the way to do it is build the fire, cook the meat high and away from the heat sources, and then right at the end, drop the meat close to the fire to finish it off while basting frequently. This part contains six detailed recipes such as â€œHigh-Low Boneless Rib Eyeâ€ (pages 62-65) and â€œThick Pork Chops Guaranteed Juicyâ€ (pages 76-79) among others.
The opposite idea of high and slow is getting the meat right down in the flames and that is the point of â€œClinching: Down and Dirty.â€Â This starts on page 84 with an explanation of the technique involved before moving on to such recipes as â€œClinched Strip Steakâ€ (pages 92-97) and â€œClinched Boneless Pork Chopsâ€ (page 100-101) among others. By doing it this way, you form the charred crust around the meat quickly and lock in the flavor while continuing to cook the meat as close to flame as possible.
Those five recipes have company in the eight recipe â€œClinched And Plankedâ€ area which immediately follows. This is when you place the item to be cooked, after it has a crust, on a presoaked plank of wood and keep it covered. This gives the item being cooked a uniform temperature while also creating flavorful smoky steam to surround the food. Â â€œClinched-And-Planked Shrimp (pages 110-113), â€œClinched-And-Planked Chicken Legsâ€ (pages 124-127) and â€œClinched-And-Planked Fish Steaksâ€ (pages 130-131) are just some of the choices here.
Side dishes are just as important as the main part and are covered in â€œPart III: Co-Stars.â€ This part runs from page 132 to page 205 and features various subsections use designed to give you the perfect side dish to accompany the meal. Variety is key here as these recipes are broken down into different parts based primarily on the taste they create in your mouth.
This begins with â€œMelting, Creamy, and Comfortableâ€ area that features ten dishes that â€œâ€¦.calm down the strength of barbeque without getting in the way of flavor.â€ (Page 134)Â Here is where you go for â€œMushrooms In Parsley Creamâ€ (pages 138-139), â€œBubbling Bacon Butter Beansâ€ (pages 142-143) or â€œMelting Potatoesâ€ (pages 150-151) among others.
â€œCrispy, Fresh, And Sprightlyâ€ comes next. This area features sides that will crunch when you bite into them giving you a crisp flavor in contrast to the meat. â€œGreen Apple, Cabbage And Caraway Slawâ€ (pages 162-163) kick off the seven salad type recipes here. No grilling is involved with these.
Leafy Vegetables are the focus of the next area â€œLeaves, Lettuces and Greens.â€ 7 recipes starting with â€œCharred Radicchio with Sweet-And-Sticky Balsamic and Baconâ€ (pages 178-181) and ending with â€œWarm Crunchy Broccolini With Prosciutto and Scruffed Croutonsâ€ (pages 192-193 are here.
Maybe you are in the mood for French Fries or onion rings. â€œDuck-Fat Friesâ€ (page 198) and â€œCrispy Moonshine Onion Ringsâ€ (page 200-201) are here in the next area titled â€œCrispy Bits.â€Â Â Three other recipes are also present in this area.
That leads readers to â€œPart IV: Finishingâ€ starting on page 206. This is where you learn to finish the dish by way of several different options. The author opens with â€œSpacklesâ€ which are designed to wake up the taste buds so that you donâ€™t just taste the barbecue smoke. â€œThese spackles are a finishing touch, a powerful uppercut that jolts the senses.â€ (Page 208) This is where you go for â€œRed Pepper Spackleâ€ (page 212-213), â€œTomato Sparkleâ€ (pages 218-219) and five others.
â€œBastesâ€ come next and â€œ. . .Â are based on combinations of sweet, sour, salty, and hot.â€ (page 226)Â You can go with a â€œBasic Basteâ€ (page 230), or a â€œClassic Southern Basteâ€ (page 234) or â€œBBQ Sauceâ€ (page 237) among other choices. There are a total of ten bastes here with very different tastes so you have variety to pick and choose from.
Using salt as a flavor enhancer correctly comes next starting on page 240 with â€œFinishing Salts.â€Â There are 8 suggestions here such as â€œThyme, Rosemary and Sage Saltâ€ (page 244), â€œLime Coriander Saltâ€ (pages 248-249) and â€œCharcoal Saltâ€ (pages 253-256). For the â€œCharcoal Saltâ€ you will need â€œa lump of good-quality hardwood lump charcoal, briefly rinsed and driedâ€ that you can grate onto other ingredients before running the whole deal through a clean spice or coffee grinder.
The book closes with a one page â€œsourcesâ€ listing, a one page â€œConversion Chartsâ€ and an eight page index. Unfortunately, there is no nutritional information in the cook book beyond number of servings. Therefore there is no information on fats, calories, etc., regarding any of these dishes.
This cookbook is perfect for barbeque enthusiasts and those who want to learn how to grill correctly and effectively. Not only does it teach you various cooking strategies it also provides considerable variety in dishes. Whether you want to feed a small gathering of friends and family or you want to entertain on a large scale there is something in this very well done cookbook for you.
Charred & Scruffed: Bold new techniques for explosive flavor on and off the grill
Adam Perry Lang
With Peter Kaminsky
Artisan (division of Workman Publishing Company, Inc.)
ISBN# Â 978-1-57965-465-8
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Apartment tenant policies set by our apartment management team prevented this reviewer from attempting any of these dishes. Grills of any type or size using any fuel source are banned from the property due to structure fires at this property and elsewhere directly caused by tenants failing to monitor their grills. Possession of a grill is a fineable offense that can also result in forfeiture of said lease and eviction. That fact makes any outdoor cooking impossible.
Kevin R. Tipple Â©2012
Author of the e-book short story collection Mind Slices available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords in a variety of formats.
Contributor to the Carpathian Shadows, Volume II anthology available in print and e-book.
Book Reviews and More http://kevintipplescorner.blogspot.com/