There are plenty of great barbecue books out there all vying for the reader’s attention and it can be very hard to find a little niche to squeeze into to become another ‘great barbecue book’. This book managed it, with honours.
Essentially this is just like oh-so-many-other books: lots of great recipes (more than 50), that have been tested and tested again, designed to be a pleasure rather than a chore, etc. etc. This is not denigrating anything, it is just that the “gold position” is rather crowded with a lot of highly-regarded barbecue books. What sets this book aside is the almost-audible embarrassment that one uses a grill. The grill is not quite pushed to the background but the book eschews the (often perfectly valid) need to teach the user about grill basics and the whole enchilada. The grill is just assumed. You have the grill, you use it. Yet this book is not just for the expert griller – far from it.
A modern design and general friendly demeanour draw the reader in and the product photography highlights many dishes that are seemingly different to the good, old familiar that one sees in many other great barbecue books. Many people wrongly associate the barbecue with masculine grilling of great hunks of meat and maybe a bit of salad if one must for the ladies present, so this book would the contrast, a not-quite overtly female-friendly grill book but a more balanced, for everyone thing. Maybe this concept is difficult to understand but if you see this and compare it to a number of other very good but ‘typical’ barbecue books you might understand better. This book is different. There is less emphasis on grilling as an experience, its presence and use is just given.
Split into sections – beef & veal; lamb; pork; chicken; seafood; vegetables & salads and then a brief roundup of various dips and sauces – the publisher has worked well to make a number of not-so-typical barbecue dishes look like they’ve just been taken from a top restaurant. Nothing overtly fancy or unachievable, just great food made better with that unique grill taste. Recipes such as marinated beef ribs in dark ale and mustard, lemony lamb loin chops with chargrilled zucchini and asparagus, Vietnamese pork kebabs and teriyaki baby octopus are just a few of the really different recipes you may find. Of course, there are many traditional recipes such as a theme on a beef burger too, before you worry.
For the price and for the diverse quality of recipes on offer, this is a no-brainer consideration and possible purchase. Even if you have more barbecue books than barbecue toolsets and funny aprons, you will surely find some wonderful recipes here. The only slight niggle is the binding – there is a concern that with extended use the binding will split as it already feels quite fragile. Yet you are getting a book worth double the price and more besides for a relative steal. There are other books in the “Make Me” series and we hope to review these in time. Needless to say, this book has set a high barrier and expectation so it is hoped that the others in the series have the same lineage.
Make Me: Barbecue – More than 50 Fabulous new recipes for the grill, written and published by Murdoch Books. ISBN 9781742666617, 128 pages. Typical price: GBP7. YYYYY.