Barbecue may be ancient and primal but the birth of the grill is all about American ingenuity.
The country’s first book on grilling was “Sunset’s Barbecue Book” published in 1938, according to Bill and Cheryl Jamison, authors of “100 Grilling Recipes You Can’t Live Without” (Harvard Common Press).
The book “dealt with food and cooking only as a secondary interest,” they write. “Most of the slender volume concerned how to build your own outdoor fire place, using brick, rock and mortar.”
The growing popularity of outdoor cooking continued to grow until grills dotted suburban lawns across America. The fuel of choice: charcoal briquettes, a by-product of Henry Ford’s Model T assembly line. And American consumers ultimately sealed the deal by choosing the Weber kettle introduced in 1951, an iconic model that continues to dominate the industry.
Their record speaks for itself: Cheryl and Bill Jamison have co-authored six previous books on grilling and barbecue, including “Smoke Spice” and “Born to Grill,” which have sold more than 1.5 million copies and garnered four James Beard Cookbook Awards.
Based in Santa Fe, this collection of original recipes offers a supplement to the traditional steaks, chops, ribs and burgers, plus chicken, fish and shellfish with a generous sprinkling of some of their favorite Southwestern flavors, including fajitas, tacos, cumin-rubbed carne asada and flame-licked chile rellenos.
But why 100 recipes? That’s roughly the number the avid grilling fan cooks in a year, the authors say. Consider it your bucket list.
There isn’t any food porn to tempt you to make these recipes, but rest assured the recipes and techniques are concise yet thorough without extraneous scene-setting chatter. But do take time to read the snapshots of patio pop culture, with blurbs such as Equire magazine’s early treatise on why men man the grill, the birth of the grilling industry marked by the publication of the first grilling cookbook and the resurgence of the rotisserie.