Title: BBQ Bash
Author: Adler Fertig
246 pages; Soft cover PhotographyColor
Publisher: Harvard Common Press, Boston, MA 2008
Reviewed by, Chef John V. Fall 2008

The review---

BBQ Bash has some pretty darn good cooking suggestions to spice up your menus around the grill. This is no bratwurst, ribs and potato salad book! Don't be fooled with the notion of BBQ being charred to a crisp and smothered in sauce with potato salad and beer. Yes we all have had some darn good ribs and burnt end sandwiches but when was the last time you had Grilled Lobster Parcels, Grilled Venison Chops with Brandy Cream Sauce or Pancetta-Wrapped Radicchio, Fennel and Potato Bundles? These are the recipes I tried and I found them to hit the spot. I was hoping they would turn out as I hate giving a bad review!

I am an experienced griller aka BBQ master and I have many a customer to attest to my expertise. What am I saying here? This is a good book for the recipes and a good book to inspire you to do more. The draw back issome of the recipe cooking techniques are challenging and if you aren't a good griller you might stumble and at the last minute char or break or crumble the main course. This isn't the bible of grilling, but it is a good recipe book!

Recipes tested---

Grilled Lobster Parcels

The members of our cookbook club are all fans of cookbook author Anne Willon, so we visited her cooking school, La Varenne, at the Chateau du Fey in the Burgundy countryside of France for a week. When we revisited Willon's works at a recent gathering, member Kathy Smith prepared Willan's Lobster in a Parcel (From My Chateau Kitchen, Clarkson Potter, 2000). Our grilled homage follows. Ooh-la-la!

Makes 12 parcels
Meat from 2 grilled lobster tails
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons brandy
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-size carrot, finely chopped
1 cup white wine, preferably Chardonnay
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
One 1-pound package phyllo pastry dough
Olive oil for brushing

1. Cut the meat of each tail into six 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.
2. In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Add the brandy, light a long match, and carefully ignite the brandy. Let it burn far about 1 minute, being careful to stand back, and removing the pan from the heat to control the flame
if it gets too high. Add the shallots, garlic, and carrot and cook far 5 to 6 minutes, until tender. Add the white wine, bring to a boil, and reduce by half. Add the cream and turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place a layer of phyllo sheets an a clean counter and trim to make 6-inch squares. Cover the sheets with a damp towel until ready to use. Lightly brush a baking sheet with olive ail. Lay one single square of phyllo on the baking sheet and brush lightly with oil. Repeat with 2 mare phyllo layers, brushing each with alive oil and setting on top of each other. Place 1 slice of lobster meat in the center of the square. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the shallot mixture an the lobster. Fold one side of the phyllo over the lobster. Fold the sides
of the phyllo inward and cover with the fourth side of the phyllo like an envelope, to form
a small rectangular parcel. Repeat with the rest of the phyllo and the lobster and shallot mixtures. Set the parcels on the baking sheet and, using a sharp knife, cut a small air hole into the top of each parcel. (At this point, you may cover and refrigerate the parcels for several hours.)
4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the parcels for 20-25 minutes until light golden brown and crispy. Serve warm.

Pancetta-Wrapped Radicchio Fennel, and Potato Bundles

"Bundles" on the grill-several ingredients rolled together and wrapped with something edible (here either pancetta or prosciutto)-are a great way to do appetizers. You can assemble them hours ahead of time, then preside over them at the grill like the important person you are (or get another person who wants to be important to grill these for you, while you socialize).

Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 large baking potatoes
2 small heads radicchio, cut into quarters
1 bulb fennel, ends trimmed and cut into 8 wedges
8 thin slices pancetta or prosciutto
Olive oil for brushing
1 recipe Mortar and Pestle Vinaigrette (page 170)

1. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork. Microwave them on High until done, 7 to 10 minutes. Run the potatoes under cold running water until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut each potato into 4 wedges.
2. Stack one piece of each of the three vegetables together to form 8 bundles, with the largest piece on the bottom and the smallest on the top. This will probably mean the fennel on the bottom, the radicchio in the middle, and the potato on top, but it will depend on the size of your vegetables. Wrap each bundle with a slice of pancetta and secure with a toothpick. (At this point, you may cover and refrigerate the bundles for up to 1 day ahead. Let come to room temperature before grilling.)
3. Prepare a hot fire in your grill. Place the bundles on a baking sheet, brush them with olive oil, and take out to the grill.
4. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once, or until browned and golden. Serve on a platter drizzled with the vinaigrette or on a round plate with the vinaigrette in a small bowl as a dipping sauce.

Grilled Venison Chops with Brandy Cream Sauce

Venison-a family of game that includes elk, deer, and even caribou-is a very lean meat and is best when prepared medium-rare. Karen's husband goes elk hunting every year in the Colorado Rockies. We all feast on the elk venison, from the delicious hamburger to the divine steaks, chops, and fillets. When the elk outsmart Dick, we still fare well with tasty grain-fed deer from the Kansas corn and bean fields. You may substitute farm-raised venison, available at some independent butcher shops.

Makes 4 servings
Suggested wood: 1 cup water soaked grapevines or oak chips
Four 1/2-inch-thick venison chops or steaks
Olive oil for brushing
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Brandy Cream Sauce:
1/3 cup brandy
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1. Prepare a hot fire in your grill and add the grapevines.
2. Coat the chops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Whisk the sauce ingredients together. Divide the sauce into two small bowls, using one bowl for basting and setting the other bowl aside for serving. Grill the chops directly over the hot fire for about 3 minutes on each side, basting several times with the sauce. Place one venison chop on each of four plates and serve with the reserved bowl of sauce.