If you are looking for just one book that can take you from complete grilling novice to BBQ expert, then How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques by Steven Raichlen is the book for you. I am speaking from experience as I knew next to nothing about BBQ when I bought this book other than the fact that I loved to eat it. I wanted to make the leap from connoisseur to creator, and I chose this book after extensive research. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Raichlen makes it very easy for readers to learn everything they need to know about barbecuing. When I say everything, I truly mean everything. This book covers every single aspect of BBQ that you can think of. As well as a wide range of mouthwatering recipes that are included in the book, there are also sections on choosing the fuels to cook with, how to set up a three-fire zone, grilling techniques and creating rubs.
The section on sauces alone is well worth the cost of the book. The basic barbecue sauce recipe that is included is basic in name only. It is quite possibly the most delicious barbecue sauce I have ever tasted, and it fills me with pride every time my guests rave about it when I make it. There are also lots of more advanced sauce recipes that include some exotic ingredients, and I have had a lot of fun experimenting with them when I barbecue.
Of all the recipes that I have enjoyed in How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques, the best recipe in my humble opinion is the one for beer can chicken. Most people have heard of beer can chicken before, but this version is by far the best I have ever tasted. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that this beer can chicken recipe creates the most delicious, mouthwatering chicken I have ever tasted.
One thing that is really helpful about this book is the quality of the photographs that are included. There are a minimum of six full-color photographs included for every technique that is covered in the book, and these high-quality photos help me to grasp the techniques that Raichlen explains. Another thing I love about the photographs is that I can flip the book open and quickly glance at them to help remind myself of the steps I need to take while I am barbecuing.
One thing that I do find slightly irritating about the book is that the photographs of the dishes seem a little too perfect. It seems that I can never get my finished creations to look as beautiful as the photographs in the book, but that is probably due to my clumsiness more than anything. Even though my creations might not always look ready for a close-up, they are still incredibly delicious.
As I said before, I was a barbecuing novice before I bought this book, but that is no longer the case. After using this book for just a few months, you wouldn’t believe how many of my friends were pestering me to tell them how I had become such a grilling master. I thought about keeping them in the dark and letting them chalk it up to my inherent greatness, but I am too nice a guy for that. I have shared the source of my newfound mastery, and it is incredible how many of my friends have purchased copies of How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques by Steven Raichlen for themselves.