There have been some absolutely wonderful cookbooks coming out recently, but one that I've really enjoyed—especially since it's grilling season, is Around the Fire. It's written by Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, the duo behind Ox Restaurant in Portland, Oregon.
While Ox is known for its Argentinian-style cooking over an open-fire grill using seasonal ingredients from the Pacific Northwest, the recipes in this book have all been written with the home cook in mind and can be prepared over a wood-fire or with a charcoal or gas grill. In fact, the author points out in the first chapter, dedicated to grilling basics, that all you really need "is heat, sometimes a grate, and always good ingredients" before going into detail about the different types of fuel, the results you'll see when cooking with wood vs charcoal vs gas, and what tools are essential for grilling. This chapter goes in to enough detail that even those of you who are fairly new to grilling should be able to tackle these recipes with confidence.
One thing that I think is important to note about this book is that not all of the recipes require a grill. Many, including some of the mouthwatering appetizers, side-dishes, and salads, call for broiling or baking, which makes them easy to prepare year around if you can find the ingredients. Speaking of ingredients, I've found some of them (such as squid, octopus, and prawns) difficult to track down since I live in a land-locked state, but by and large you'll have no trouble finding what you need at a well-stocked grocery store, especially since many of the recipes calling for special ingredients list easier to find alternatives you can use in their place. Still, there are a few things that will cause you to pause and scratch your head no matter where you live: goat, beef tongue, and tripe will be hard for most people to track down unless you know someone who knows someone, but if you're feeling adventurous these dishes look absolutely mouth-watering.
While most of the ingredients may be easy to come by, it's the way they're used that really makes this book special. Simple ingredients such as oranges and sweet onion are grilled and combined in ways I never would have imagined. This book really shakes things up and encourages you to think outside the box, which is one of the reason I've become such a huge fan. If you enjoy cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients and love to grill, then this is a book you'll definitely want to take a look at no matter what your skill level.
Recipes you should try:
Grilled corn empanadas with poblano and gruyère
Grilled beef skirt steak with onion marinade
Grilled duck breasts with brandied cherries
Grilled new potato and onion skewers with bacon-sherry cream
Grilled Broccolini with taleggio cream and hazelnuts
Belgian endive salad with pecans, fresh cherries, dijon vinaigrette, and stilton blue
Fried potatoes with horseradish aïoli and dill
Strawberry-cherry sorbet with chocolate "magic shell" and crushed pistachios
Smoked Sea Salt
and for the more adventurous:
Ash-seared lamb loin with celery, cilantro, charred orange, and cumin-chile oil
Grill-roasted leg of goat with white truffle, button mushroom, and fresh ricotta salad
Smoked beef tongue with ensalada rusa and sweetbread croutons
Where to Purchase
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This book was sent to me for review by Ten Speed Press as always, all opinions are my own.