Summer is just around the corner, and for many people that means spending a good amount of time standing over a grill. Unfortunately, summer doesn’t last very long and most of those people will eventually put the grill away, to be stored until summertime rolls around again. That’s too bad, as far as I am concerned. Grilled food tastes great all year round and it is my opinion that those who live in the south shouldn't have the monopoly on grilling the whole year through. Luckily, attitudes are changing. In recent years, I have met more and more people who refuse to allow a little snow and cold weather to detour them from their love of grilling.
One of those people is Rick Browne, host of the PBS show “Barbecue America” and author of a number of books on barbecue and grilling. He also holds a Ph.B (Doctorate of Barbecue Philosophy) bestowed upon him by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. His most recent book, Grilling for All Seasons, espouses the idea that more people should look beyond summertime as the only time for grilling and should embrace the grill all year long. He even makes a great argument for cooking your holiday meals on the grill, and suggests that it is a great way to escape the hectic family get togethers as someone needs to tend the grill.
To achieve his aim, Mr. Browne divides his book into seasons as opposed to the more traditional way of organizing a cookbook into courses or food types. This can make it a little more difficult to hunt down types of dishes, such as appetizers or desserts, but with only approximately 95 recipes in the book this isn’t a big deal. While he does tend to fall for a few clichés; lamb and asparagus in spring, steaks in summer, and roasts and root vegetables in winter, Rick does offer up a number of unique recipes for mouth watering fare such as: Barbecue Strawberry Kabobs with Balsamic Port Glaze, Cornish Apple Cider Game Hens, and Eggnog Popovers.
What I enjoy the most about Rick’s writing and his book, is his voice. His writing style is very down-to-earth, and conversational. This is the kind of guy that I want hang out with, drink a beer with and shoot the breeze with, over a couple of steaks sizzling away on the grill.
For those of you who have yet to venture beyond grilling simple burgers, steaks and chicken, Rick is your man. He introduces some more advanced grilling techniques, such as roasting whole meats on the grill or baking. While these techniques are easy to learn, they can be difficult to master, but with Rick leading the way even the novice can cook like a barbecue master.
For those who are already well versed in the art of live fire cooking, Rick doesn’t cover any new ground. There are no new revelations to be had, nor are there any amazing, new techniques to be learned, but that doesn’t mean this book isn’t worthwhile for you. At the very least, reading through this book and the recipes will reinforce techniques you are already using, but more importantly, there are a bunch of really great recipes that any live fire enthusiast should add to their repertoire. And, hopefully, Mr. Browne will inspire you to join the growing masses of those of us who think that our grills deserve to be used year round.
PacRim Swordfish Steaks
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 3 limes (or 2 large lemons)
1 jalapeno, seeded
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
4 (3/4" thick, 7-8 oz.) swordfish steaks
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh oregano leaves
8 large basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly grated black pepper
-Combine all marinade ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine into a smooth liquid. Rub swordfish with marinade and place in a resealable bag. Marinate, in the refrigerator, for 1 hour.
-Heat barbecue grill to 375°F for grilling over direct heat.
-Make vinaigrette by mixing vinegar and mustard in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly then add the herbs, pulsing until they are coarsely chopped. Add extra-virgin olive oil very slowly while processor is running, processing until mix emulsifies into a smooth blend. Season with salt and pepper.
-Remove swordfish from marinade. Pat dry and let steaks come to room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Grill steaks on covered grill until you get good grill marks on both sides and the interior is medium and still moist. 3-4 minutes per side.
-Remove steaks from grill and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve with grilled vegetables and steamed fragrant rice.