About Real Grilling
Grilling should be simple and fun. Weber's Real Grilling is about easy, exciting, and absolutely delicious food. You will find any of the ingredients for the 200+ recipes in a well-stocked supermarket, and a full-color photo of each shows you how the food will look.
Some cookbooks are meant for perusing, Weber's Real Grilling is meant for using.
This book's purpose is to tell the story of how we Americans grill today. It reflects the many hours I spent talking and grilling with outdoor cooks from coast to coast. I asked them why they grill, how they grill, and what they grill. In the following pages, I have tried to cover the diversity of what I have learned, although the focus is on what is most real. I wanted to capture a true sense of grilling today. That means simple and fun. The recipes here are designed to be easy enough to shop for and easy enough to prepare that grilling never feels a chore. Of all the things I heard while writing this book, one was the most consistent: "We cook because we have to, but we grill because we want to."
It's not surprising that some of what we grill today is the same as what Americans have been grilling for decades. The classics remain popular regardless of time or trends. I am talking about recipes like Filet Mignon with Lemon-Parsley Butter (a perennial favorite on steakhouse menus) and Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Cola Barbecue Sauce (a must-have at my house for the Fourth of July). This book features these recipes and several other classics as tributes to American grilling traditions, including traditional recipes that we have borrowed from other parts of the world, like Carne Asada Fajitas and West Indies Pork Chops with Black Bean-Mango Salsa.
But what about the recipes that have changed? Aren't they an important part of real grilling, too? What about my version of Ginger Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, for instance? It's not exactly the one I learned from an Indonesian chef while I was traveling in Southeast Asia. Back in the United States I couldn't find the same tiny red chile that she used in the sauce, but a green serrano chile works just as well. To me, this version is as real as the original. Actually it's hard to say what the original recipe was. I am sure it didn't call for peanut butter, which is what the Indonesian chef used. The point is, recipes can change for very good reasons. As we adapt them to our own circumstances, they don't lose their integrity necessarily. Some keep their essential qualities while they change to meet the needs of people who cook them.
I have three young children, a wife who works full-time, and a writing career that requires all the attention I can give it, so at the end of some days I am completely whooped. I am also the cook in my house, so I need some recipes I can use to make quick, respectable dinners without messing up a bunch of pots and pans. For ridiculously busy days, I rely on recipes like Hurry Up I'm Hungry Chicken Breasts, Grill-Roasted New Potatoes, and Basic Grilled Asparagus. These dishes and many easy ones like them are an important part of this book not only because they take less than thirty minutes to prepare but also because a lot of beginning grillers get started with these. One day you are making Chicago-Style Hot Dogs and before you know it you are ready for something a little more daring, like T-Bone Steaks with Eggplant Caponata.
Even when we have more time for grilling, who wants to spend it driving from store to store for ingredients? Not me and not anyone else I asked. That's why you can cook any recipe in this book with the ingredients sold at a well-stocked supermarket. Also, I have streamlined the prep work in these recipes so you don't have to bother with unnecessary steps. I don't expect you to make chicken stock from scratch or grind your own hamburger meat when you can buy perfectly good versions of these. Let's be real.
I have learned from people all over America that grilling is about much more than food and fire. It is also about us and our lifestyles. It is about how we personalize recipes with our own choices, like arranging the coals in a certain way or adding a little more hot sauce to a marinade because that’s how you like it. Outdoor cooks have always developed their own touch and they enjoy sharing it with their families and friends. Ultimately, that is the story of grilling today. Flavors and tastes change from one part of the country to the next, but we all want to be part of this relaxed, communal way of cooking. It is the nature of real grilling.
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