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I became an obsessed backyard cook last year after buying a new gas grill. Growing weary of serving up the same old burgers and hot dogs, I wanted to excel at riskier grill fare, so I invested in a copy of the Culinary Institute of America’s book, Grilling. I’ve never received more kudos for my grilling, nor felt more like a barbecue champ, than when I cooked from this book. This is definitely a book for the ambitious griller, though it doesn’t require years of experience… just some patience and daring, and sometimes a willingness to hunt down exotic ingredients.
The recipes have in common a distinct and unforgettable flavor. For instance, the Black Jack Chicken was a hit at my house, due largely to the fantastic barbecue sauce that really pops, due to a combination of apple and strong coffee. The peanut butter in Fish Kebabs with Cilantro and Cashew Chutney provided the perfect surprise twist, and our Baha-Style Fish Tacos put the local Mexican restaurant to shame. Other diversions, both attempted and forthcoming, include Guava-Glazed Baby Back Ribs, Grilled Cinnamon Chicken, Pakistani-Style Lamb Burgers, Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Chutney, Tandoori Chicken, and Jerked Game Hens.
Even the sides are good here. One cookout guest, who had previously declared mustard greens inedible, asked for thirds of the beans and greens sauté that accompany the superb Albuquerque Grilled Pork Tenderloin. And for the genuine enthusiast, there are chapters on desserts and breakfasts for the grill. I’m confident, however, that cooking from this book will raise the amateur griller a rank or two when guests try these unexpected renditions of the traditional barbecue staples.
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