By Matt Kelly
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Format:ebook (Digital original) $3.99 $4.99 CAD
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Barbequing seems to have been adopted as the national cooking method — as American as apple pie. The charcoal cooker on the patio or in the backyard became so ubiquitous in the 1950s and 1960s it almost seemed like a post-war invention of the American culture.
But barbequing is an ancient form of cooking, invented shortly after man discovered fire. Early humans discovered that meat broiled over open flames was more appetizing and healthier than raw meat. They also found that cooked meat lasted longer than its raw counterpart.
While the beginnings of grilling food were simple, the traditions that developed and were passed down through the generations have varied greatly. Cooks refined their grilling techniques, developing better ways of using the open flame. They realized that other flavors could be imparted on foods by using marinades and sauces. As humans expanded their culinary lexicon, herbs and spices were used both as part of marinades and also in dry rubs.
Early humans grilled meat and ate vegetables raw. But, being ever inquisitive and inventive, they soon discovered that like meat, vegetables developed special flavors when grilled. And like meat, vegetables could be marinaded in a variety of sauces to impart special flavors.
Different cultures developed not only new ways of preparing food but also of preparing the fire, from little charcoal braziers to big wood-fired pits.
The Asians, who have been barbequing for centuries, have a variety of methods, including cooking directly over an open fire, spit turning meat, and barbequing in an oven. Since many ingredients are already cut to bite-sized pieces, much Asian barbequing is done with skewers.
Indian Tandoori cooking calls for food to be placed in a large clay oven that has been heated through by charcoal. The foods are generally marinated before being lowered into the oven. In a well-made tandoori oven, the food will come out crisp on the outside, but moist and tender on the inside. Indian cooks also prepare a special bread, nan, in their tandoori ovens, by pressing the flattened dough on the sides of the cooking chamber.
In America, barbequing is done over a charcoal or wood fire in the backyard or on the patio. It is as much a social occasion as a method of cooking. As modern life has driven people more and more indoors, grilling provides a connection with a more basic and simple life, interacting with the elements, bringing about that perfect marriage of food and flame.
There are a variety of barbeque cookers, from large open pits to small, balcony-sized kettle cookers and hibachis. My personal favorite is a medium-sized kettle cooker, about 18 inches in diameter. It’s large enough to cook food for a medium-sized home-entertainment crowd, but small and light enough to be readily portable.
A kettle cooker has a tight fitting lid with air vents on the top and underneath the fire to assure good burning. Kettle cookers are excellent for imparting a smoked flavor to foods. Closing the top traps the smoke, and the venting causes the smoke to swirl around the food being cooked. The recipes in this book are specifically for kettle cookers, but they can be used for other kinds of charcoal and wood cookers.
A hibachi is a small, Japanese-style brazier with an insulated base, a space to hold charcoal, and an adjustable grill. Popular for its size, it is easily portable and can be placed on the end of a picnic table. Hibachis are a direct heat cooking method, with the smoke dissipating into the air.
Braziers are also popular charcoal cookers with round, shallow fire bowls. Most have adjustable-height grills and are usually inexpensive. Collapsible legs make them very portable and many have a draft door in the fire bowl for air circulation. Like hibachis, they cook with direct heat.
Stationary barbeques are permanent fixtures of brick, block, stone, or tile. It’s best — for yourself and your neighbors — to experiment with portable fires to find where they work best on your property before building a permanent one.
- On Sale
- Jan 6, 1996
- Page Count
- 32 pages