Grill guru Steven Raichlen gives this advice: "Keep it hot. Keep it clean. Keep it lubricated." To date, he has a series of books about the art of grilling and a show on PBS; in addition, he's frequently a guest on television, and he sells sauces, barbecue tools and grilling DVDs from his website. Raichlen's visually seductive How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques (Workman Publishing, 512 pages, $19.95) is the ultimate reference book for anyone wanting to perfect his (or her) grilling techniques or for someone just getting started at the helm of a grill. This text includes more than 1,000 mouthwatering photographs. Raichlen discusses all aspects of grilling from the proper equipment, tools and grilling techniques to the precise cooking of ingredients. This is a how-to book, not a recipe book: Only 100 recipes are included.
If you've got the grilling skills but are looking for healthier and inspiring recipes, opt for Chef Bobby Flay's Grilling for Life: 75 Healthier Ideas for Big Flavor From the Fire (Scribner, 224 pages, $22), co-written with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson. Flay creates dishes for carbohydrate watchers using herbs, spices, oils, citrus, fruit juices, honey and vinegars for flavoring. Recipes include cumin grilled sea scallops with chickpea salad and red pepper tahini vinaigrette, grilled figs with vanilla-orange crème fraiche and toasted pistachios, and espresso rubbed barbecued ribs with mustard vinegar basting sauce. Flay confesses in the intro: "I'm not a nutritionist. I'm a chef." So he keeps his recipes lean but not mean. Note: This is another Flay cookbook which uses black and white photos.
The Italian Grill: Fresh Ideas to Fire Up Your Outdoor Cooking (Clarkson Potter, 184 pages, $25), by New York-based cooking instructor Michol Negrin, packs a small book with such focused flavorful recipes as Sardinian smoked lamb with artichokes and fresh mint, clams in a packet with oregano, focaccia stuffed with mascarpone and truffled olive oil, and a black and white pizza with ricotta, goat cheese and olive paste. Negrin includes a list of mail order sources.
Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Grilling: Recipes and Techniques for Successful Outside Grilling, by Denis Kelley and edited by Chuck Williams (Oxmoor House, 304 Pages, $35), provides step-by-step instructions for grilling. The advantage to this book is that the 130 recipes offer instructions for either charcoal or gas grills. Simple-to-follow recipes include grape leaf wrapped camembert with pesto, leeks with mint vinaigrette, and provençal fennel and pepper steak.
The Food Network Kitchens' Get Grilling: Recipes, Tips, and Techniques for Terrific Food and Big Fun in the Great Outdoors (Food Network Kitchens, 288 pages, $24.95), edited by Jennifer Darling, is a fine choice for those somewhat familiar with the grill but needing easy to moderately difficult recipes. Some recipes are traditional, such as the barbecue spareribs, but this book also includes spice rubbed quail with cracked wheat salad and a hot buttered rum banana split with coconut.