Sharpening those grill skills

Book: Backyard barbecuers get hot tips and cool recipes from Weber.

July 07, 1999|By Peter D. Frankin | Peter D. Frankin,Universal Press Syndicate

When it comes to grilling, few names are better known than Weber. That's not the name of a chef, of course, but a manufacturer of grilling equipment. Yet you would not know that from reading "Weber's Art of the Grill" by Jamie Purviance (Chronicle, $35). The company's products are never mentioned, and only on the very last page of this attractive 208-page volume is there an unobtrusive photograph of a Weber grill.

It stands to reason that folks at the Weber-Stephen Products Co. would know something about what goes best on the backyard barbecue other than hot dogs and hamburgers. For the book, Weber wanted "extraordinary flavors" along with "luscious" color photographs and "foolproof" instructions. With the help of Purviance, the book attains each of these goals.

Beginning with "starter" dishes, such as Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp, Barbecued Oysters West Coast Style, and Grilled Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup With Spiced Peanuts, these are recipes that are sure to delight but not challenge. The Smoked Corn Chowder also looks inviting, thanks to Tim Turner's excellent photographs.

Meat, chicken and poultry take up the lion's share of the recipes. Purviance says the Bodacious Porterhouse Steaks are served with "a barbecue sauce so seductive that it has to be called sexy." It is one of several steak dishes. He also comes up with a Santa Maria Tri-Tip Sandwich that is made with a cut of meat known as bottom sirloin butt. The sandwich gets its name from Santa Maria, Calif., home of the Barbecue Hall of Fame. I had no idea there was such a facility.

Pork, lamb and veal chops, sausages and ribs receive due recognition, followed by the likes of Butterflied Chicken Under Bricks. Even the author admits this is somewhat "gimmicky." His recipe for Garlic-and-Mint Roasted Chicken is Tuscan in origin; the Jackson's Jerk Chicken recipe hails from Jamaica, and from Spain comes Paella Valencia, perhaps the most ambitious recipe in the book.

There are three salmon recipes (one might have hoped for more); a nice Halibut With Tomato-Tarragon Cream Sauce; an Apple-and-Leek Stuffed Trout With Brown Butter Sauce; Caribbean Swordfish Steaks With Mango Salsa; and a delightful Grilled Tuna Nicoise salad plate. A half-dozen dessert recipes complete the 100 or so.

Wine suggestions are given with most of the entrees, as well as information concerning the pairing of wine and grilled food. Perhaps even more important is the grilling guide to cooking times, based on the thickness or weight of the food to be prepared. Throughout, the presentation is clear and precise. There is nothing in it that will tax the skills of the accomplished cook.

"Weber's Art of the Grill" is full of delightful culinary surprises. Surely the recipes will enhance your outdoor grilling this summer.

Steak and Tomato Kebabs With Avocado Cream

Makes 6 to 8 skewers

RUB:

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

SAUCE:

1 Hass avocado

2-inch piece seedless cucumber

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

3 or 4 dashes Tabasco sauce

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup water

kosher salt

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds top sirloin

18 to 24 cherry tomatoes

vegetable oil for brushing cooking grate

8 metal skewers (or wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes)

To make the dry rub: In a medium bowl, mix together the garlic, mustard, salt, chili powder, paprika, coriander and cumin.

To make the sauce: Pit and peel the avocado and place in a food processor or blender. Peel the cucumber and cut into 1-inch dice. Add to the processor or blender with the sour cream, scallions, dill, Tabasco, lime juice and 1/4 cup water. Puree until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Pour the sauce into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (This may be made up to 1 day ahead.) Bring to room temperature before serving.

Cut the beef into 1 1/2 -inch pieces. Place them in a medium bowl and coat with the dry rub. Thread 3 tomatoes and 3 or 4 pieces of beef onto each skewer, separating the pieces of beef with tomatoes.

Brush the cooking grate with vegetable oil. Grill the kebabs directly over medium heat, turning once, for 7 to 8 minutes, total. The skin of the tomatoes should be lightly charred and starting to slip off. Serve warm with the avocado sauce.

-- From "Weber's Art of the Grill"

Acorn Squash With Spiced Pecan Butter

Serves 4

BUTTER:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

SQUASH:

2 acorn squashes, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds each (see note)

2 teaspoons olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

To make the butter: In a small bowl, combine the butter, pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, ginger and pepper. Mix well with a fork.

With a large, heavy knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds with a spoon. Lightly brush the exposed flesh with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Put the squash halves, cut sides down, on the cooking grate and grill indirectly over high heat until grill marks are clearly visible, about 30 minutes. Turn the squash halves cut sides up. Spread the exposed flesh with the pecan butter. Continue grilling indirectly over high heat until the flesh is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Note: Butternut squash may be substituted for the acorn squash.

-- From "Weber's Art of the Grill"

Pub Date: 07/07/99

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