Grilling season is practically here (not that it ever really goes away if you’re intrepid enough), but as you start to take the cover off your grill, the next thing you’ll need to do is figure out what to grill. You could keep it simple with burgers and dogs, or go big with a brisket, or — and follow us on this one — you could try something new. That’s where these books come in.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert pitmaster already or you’re looking to break into the grilling game, the books below are a great place to start.
Hardcore Carnivore by Jess Pryles
Jess Pryles is a bona fide meat expert, and her cookbook Hardcore Carnivore: Cook Meat Like You Mean It is one of the best cookbooks of 2018 about preparing animal flesh. Australian-born Pryles fell in love with Texas and now resides in Austin, so there’s no shortage of barbecued, grilled, and slow-roasted meats in this tome. But even those who prefer to stay in the kitchen will love Hardcore Carnivore because there are plenty of meaty recipes that call for baking, frying, roasting, and simmering. Red meat eaters will dig recipes like smoked lamb shoulder, beef hand pies, and a steakhouse burger, which is topped with onion jam and blue cheese. And there’s plenty of white meat on deck, too, like pickle-brined chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly wings, and sage and macadamia sausage rolls. Pryles even has some amazing game recipes for things like venison and kangaroo if you’re looking for something more adventurous. Sides like duck fat hummus with grilled flatbreads and cedar-planked brie with fig almond paste give you something to go with your meaty main.
Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces by Bill Kim
If you can’t get enough of tabletop Korean barbecue and wish you could make it at home, you’re in luck. Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces was also released last year, and it has revamped our at-home grilling game with tangy, saucy, meaty dishes that are packed with Korean-American flavor. Chef Bill Kim breaks down his recipes so they’re accessible to everyone, even if you’re unfamiliar with Korean cooking techniques or flavors. He even offers handy ingredient substitutions for harder-to-find products that may not be available everywhere. The book starts with seven master sauces and three spice rubs that serve as the backbone for many of the recipes. Honey soy flank steak is a favorite, and Kim’s Korean al pastor is a beautiful mix of Korean and Mexican cuisine. Jerk pork tenderloin kabobs, BBQ spiced chicken thighs, and wings that star on the cover are simple to make and packed with flavor. Snacks like garlic herb peanuts and kimchi salsa complement the carnivorous dishes perfectly.
Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book
We asked our bona fide carnivore friends about their favorite meat manuals, and this was the book that came up in conversation time and again. Although it’s only five years old, we already consider it a classic. The Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book is packed with 425 recipes for meat and poultry that will turn you into an expert on the subject. It starts with a 27-page master class that covers shopping, storage, and seasoning (think marinating, salting, and brining) that will arm you with the necessary knowledge to ace every recipe in the book. Once inside, you’ll learn techniques, offered with step-by-step illustrations, for such skills as slicing a chicken breast into cutlets, breaking down a whole bird, and carving a prime rib. Of course, there are plenty of recipes that will turn any cut of meat into a restaurant-worthy masterpiece. Some of our favorites include Extra-Crunchy Fried Chicken, Pepper-Crusted Beef Tenderloin Roast, Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce, and a Roast Leg of Lamb that will become your preferred centerpiece for every fancy dinner party. Each recipe even has modification tips so you can make a proper substitution if you’re not seeing the recommended cut at your butcher counter. With more than 500 pages of recipes for beef, pork, lamb, veal, chicken, and turkey, this book is a must-have for every meat lover.
The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Dennis Kelly
The past decade has ushered in a meat renaissance in the United States. Gone are the days when shrink-wrapped grocery store meat was the only thing available. Now when you browse the aisles or peruse the butcher counter, words like “grass-fed,” “pastured,” and “organic” are the norm. But all of these labels can be overwhelming, which is exactly what Bruce Aidells tackles in The Complete Meat Cookbook. You might know Aidells’ name from his line of delicious sausages, so you can guess that this manual contains everything you need to master meaty cooking in your home kitchen. He covers the basics on how to choose the best steaks, chops, roasts, and ribs, and then provides detailed instructions on how to season and cook your bounty. Full-color photos accompany a guide to the most popular cuts, as well as the under-appreciated parts of the animal that are affordable to buy and delicious to eat. Inside you’ll find recipes that range from the classics like Steak House Grilled Ribeye and Grilled Lamb Chops, to dishes packed with global flavors like Thai Pork Salad and Braised Beef Shanks with Coconut Milk, Ginger, and Cumin. There are even recipes for homemade charcuterie like sausages, pâtés, confits, and hams.
Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman
We can never get enough of charcuterie, whether it’s piled high on a sandwich or we’re sneaking a few bites from the fridge late at night. For true lovers of the preserved meat, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing is the ultimate manual. Authors Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn are experts on the art of turning pork products into things like salami, sausages, and prosciutto, and this highly informative cookbook will school you on proper charcuterie techniques and digestible recipes to help anyone become a curing master. Science is the star of this book, and the authors explain the whys of salt preservation and dedicate an entire chapter to safety, where they clarify the difference between good white mold and the dangerous types. Inside, you’ll learn how to stuff a sausage, brine a corned beef, prepare duck confit, and cure maple bacon. There’s a chapter dedicated to pâtés and terrines with recipes like English Pork Pie and Venison Terrine with Dried Cherries. You’ll even find recipes for non-meat preservations like pickles, sauerkraut, and spicy smoked almonds.
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