Every summer, my goal is to learn how to grill. And every summer, I sip margaritas as I watch my husband grill, yet again. But this summer will be different! This summer, I have Justin Smillie’s thorough guide to grilling, Slow Fires.
Slow Fires is more than a cookbook; it’s a guide to learning the why’s and how’s behind braising, roasting and grilling. Take braising, for example, which Smillie broadly defines as a technique that combines meat with a cooking liquid. Clearly there’s a bit more to it than that, but having a simple summary open to a more broad technique helps the beginning cook get a handle on the situation.
Smillie goes on to break down the basic technique into three steps: building flavor (think brines, browning and patience), combining meat and liquid (and maybe a veg or two), and, finally, resting and finishing (and brightening, for that matter, with herbs or lemon).
This is not a photo-heavy tome, but those photos that are included are gorgeous, if not informative, like this photo-by-photo layout for roasting porchetta (“a great Italian celebration of pork that requires planning”).
Or take this recipe for grill-smoked cod with mussels, clams and burst tomatoes, which teaches the home cook to turn one’s grill into a smoker (hint: you just close the lid). This recipe reminds me of cioppino but with more oomph.
Justin Smillie is the chef at Upland in New York (those lucky Manhattanites!) and thanks to this gorgeous cookbook, you, too, can cook low and slow over a variety of heat sources, with an eye to mastering the art of grilling in your own backyard.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging with Books for review; all opinions are my own.