Saturday, May 1, 2010

Book Review: Planet Barbecue!

Steven Raichlen has done it again with his new release Planet Barbecue! I received a copy from his publisher this week for review and I couldn’t be more impressed. [Standard Disclaimer]


Normally when I get a new cookbook, I read through it and tab the recipes I want to try. With Planet Barbecue!, I just quit tabbing after page 41 because I was literally tabbing every page. But to call Planet Barbecue! a “cookbook” doesn’t do it justice. Sure it has 309 recipes from 60 countries, but Steven brings so much more to the plate with information about the cuisine, interesting back stories, and useful tips. No, this isn’t just a cook book, it is a barbecue and grilling resource.

I like his format for each recipe that includes “The Scoop”, a side panel giving the quick Where, What, How, and Just The Facts.

I found his summaries of countries and their cuisines interesting. For each he provides a narrative of the food and culture. Then he gives a bulleted breakdown of The Grills, The Fuel, The Flavorings, Must Try Dishes, The Condiments, How To Eat It, etc etc. You actually learn about the food, you aren't just copying a recipe.

He doesn’t assume you know how to grill. If he uses a term, he is careful to refer to techniques, concepts and tips that explain it in other parts of the book.

Then there are the recipes. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sometimes when someone does a collection of recipes from around the world, they either stick to boring classics from those countries or go the opposite end of the spectrum and try to pick the most outlandish recipe with unobtainable ingredients.

But Raichlen nailed the selection of recipes, in my opinion. They are appetizing and doable. He presents the authentic method and ingredients but will also give alternative substitutions. His Puerto Rican Grilled Pork Chops are a perfect case in point.

The chops are rubbed with a simple but effective Spanish/Caribbean rub (salt, oregano, garlic, pepper, sage)

Then they are glazed with annatto oil while cooking. He does a great job explaining what annatto seeds are, where you might get them, but also advises you can substitute a blend of turmeric and sweet paprika which is what I did. As you can see, it is a bright, colorful oil.

I grilled them on the Big Green Egg for a total of 8 minutes (flipped in 2 minute intervals) at a temp of 375f.

Raichlen is right, they are so good that they really didn’t need the Sparkling Barbecue Sauce (7-Up doctored BBQ sauce).

But since I had already prepared it, I did a quick drizzle anyway and served them with my black beans and rice.

These chops were spectacular. These will definitely be made again and I can’t wait to try the same rub and glaze on a spiral cut pork loin.

There are so many recipes that I can't wait to try. Australian lamb cooked on a shovel? I have to try that. The South American selections are particularly enticing.

So if you are looking for something different than the usual grill fare this summer, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Planet Barbecue! It would also be a great gift for the griller in your family. (Steven's book signing schedule.)

UPDATE: Steve will be doing a book signing at the Williams Sonoma store at the Cool Springs Galleria in Franklin, TN (near Nashville) on June 26th from 3-5pm. Swing by, pick up a copy and get it signed by the grill master himself!

20 comments:

  1. Sounds excellent! Thanks Chris :-)

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  2. Oh my - this looks so delicious. I love the rub ingredients and want to know what anatto oil tastes like, now. (I've been in a seasoning mood lately) Great post - I look forward to more from this book!

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  3. Those pork chops look great! I will have to check out the cookbook when it comes out. I am very intrigued with this recipe.

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  4. Thanks for helping me decide what to get my dad for Father's Day. He's a bbq freak!

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  5. Any book by Steven Raichlen is going to be a good book, and this one sounds fantastic! As do your chops.

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  6. I'm glad you had an opportunity to review this because I was actually looking at this one! Gorgeous chops too!

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  7. Thanks for the review. I will have to add this to my collection of cookbooks. And WOW those are some great looking chops. We honeymooned in Puerto Rico and I am always looking for recipes for that spice and flavor we had while on the island. Thanks for your research I know it is a trying task.

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  8. This sounds like a great how-to kind of book for those of us who are barbecue impaired. Not that I know anyone like that...

    The pork looks seriously delicious. You got a great color on them. Then again, you ARE the grill master!

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  9. Between Steve and Paul Kirk, They have most of the bases covered in grilling and BB-Q..

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  10. I don't think I would ever even pick up a BBQ book because it's just not something we do around here on a regular basis...except for those THREE DAYS in summer when it doesn't rain...but after reading your review, I went straight to Amazon and tried to order it but they don't have it...is it not available in stores yet? I'll head down to Barnes and Noble this afternoon and see if I can find it. Those pork chops sounded great - I'm going to get the book just for those alone! Thanks, Nan

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  11. Thanks a lot for the informative review. It is a great time to pick up a helpful grilling handbook. Glad to have run across your blog.

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  12. The chops look delicious...I love his books and didn't know he had a new one out. Thanks for the review.

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  13. I seriously laughed when I read that you starting tabbing every recipe. I do things like that all the time. It's so hard to narrow it down because you want to make them all. It's the classic paradox of too many recipes and too little time.

    I love the idea of the sparkling barbecue sauce, which sounds unique and interesting. And, those pork chops....hello, did you save me any??

    P.S. We bought a new grill today with smoker attachment and a rotisserie. I have no clue what to do, but I'm going to give it a try.

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  14. Sounds like a great book! It's rare nowadays for a cookbook to have 300 recipes. The chops look excellent! I need this book - made a promise to myself that I would learn how to grill this summer.

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  15. I've eaten very authentic PR food before, and you've pretty much nailed it!

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  16. Yum! They look and sound so delicious. The rice and beans look like the perfect side dish too.

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  17. A month or two ago I took one of his books out from the library and really enjoyed it. Just like you said, for non-grillers it's great because he does clearly explain everything. This looks like a great new one!

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  18. Thanks so much for this sneak peek of Planet Barbecue! Grilling season here in MN goes by so quickly that my husband and I take advantage of every moment possible. This cookbook would be a great resource!

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  19. Wow! I don't know whether to comment on the perfect pork or the perfect down pour you musta had! I just watched the news! Are you dry? GREG

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  20. haha, I was just thinking this morning (I swear) that I want to get my husband a BBQ cookbook for fathers day and was gonna ask you for a recommendation.

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