Titles: 25 Techniques for Grilling and 25 Techniques for Smoking
Author: Ardie A. Davis, 2009
128 each pages; Hardcover PhotographyColor
Publisher: The Harvard Common Press, Boston, MA 02118
Reviewed by, Chef John Vyhnanek May, 2009

The review--- 25 Essentials Techniques for Grilling and 25 Essentials Techniques for Smoking are a perfect pair of cookbooks for the summer cooking season. Ardie A. Davis has a clever theme in these books. They are the same size, same layout, and same amount of pages and they are both the same price at $12.95. Since the two methods of cooking go hand in hand, I decided to review them as a pair.

There have been a lot of books written on the subject of grilling and fewer on smoking. These books are easy to read, small and compact with very good recipes and some great pictures. In fact the pictures are a great feature because you can see what the food should look like after grilling or smoking. Recipes are short and sweet, meaning they aren't complicated.

Most if not all the recipes are cooked on a kettle grill using briquettes and hardwood chips for smoking. The proper way of building a fire and the arrangement of the coals, along with cooking temperatures are explained. I found the cooking times to be helpful to an inexperienced cook, or for that fact a pro too!

Only a few recipes were weird to me, like the The Pitmaster's Secret Recipe Beans in the smoking book, they weren't to my taste. Recipes in the smoking book I did like were the Apple-Smoked Chicken and the Smoked Prime Rib, they were both great, especially the apple flavor of the chicken.

I cooked the Prime Rib less than the recipe called for because I like it medium-rare at about 128 degrees F. internal temperature. Gosh, what a flavor it had and juicy too! I served it with horseradish, coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper. As a side to both I made the Smoke-Roasted Rustic Root Vegetables--they were very good!

In the grilling cookbook, I tried the Dirty Steak, a steak cooked directly on the charcoal It'self. At first I was skeptical about the steak absorbing the ash, but was surprised that if you quickly brushed it off it was fine, especially after dipping it into melted butter-yum! The Cedar Planked Salmon was the best and I just made one portion topped with the Chimichurri sauce. What a combo!

Ah dessert, simple Grilled Pineapple and Bananas on a skewer was delicious too.

The bottom line: you will be inspired by these books, especially if you're interested in smoking and haven't yet tried it. As mentioned earlier these books are easy to read, understand and not too big in size.

These are 2 really good little cookbooks!

Apple-Smoked Chicken Thighs
Serves: 4

2 cups apple juice
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
4 large, bone-in chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
1 tablespoon freshly
ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup wood chips, soaked in water and drained

1. To make the apple juice spray, put the juice and sugar in a stainless-steel saucepan over medium
heat and cook just until the sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature and pour into a plastic
spray bottle.
2. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with the pepper and salt. Set aside while you build the fire.
3. Fill your charcoal chimney with briquets, set the chimney on the bottom grill grate, and light,
or prepare a fire in your smoker. Oil the grill grate.
4. When the coals are ready, dump them into the bottom of your grill, and spread them evenly across
half. Replace the grill grate. Scatter the wood chips on the hot coals. Place the chicken thighs on
the indirect-heat side of the grill across from the coals and spray them with the apple juice
mixture. When the smoke starts to rise, close the lid. Place a candy thermometer in the lid vent.
5. Smoke the thighs at 225 to 250 F for 1 hour, spraying the chicken every 20 minutes and
re-lidding the smoker. After 1 hour, spray the chicken again, then transfer to the direct-heat side
and grill over hot coals for 2 minutes, turning as necessary, or until the skin has crisped all

Dirty Steak
Serves 4

Four 8-ounce rib eye, sirloin, T-Bone, cut 1 inch thick at room temperature
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (optional), melted
1 lemon (optional), quartered

(goodcooking.com suggests you use steaks that weigh a minimum of 12 ounces, rather than what the recipe in the book says)

1. Sprinkle both sides of the steaks liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Fill a charcoal
chimney with briquets, set the chimney on the bottom grill grate, and light. When the coals are ready, dump them into the bottom of your grill. Cover half of your bottom grate with briquets. When the briquets are white-hot, place each steak directly onto the hot coals using long-handled tongs or a fork. Leave the steaks on the coals for 2 minutes. Turn them over and grill for another 2 to 3 minutes for rare (125 F on a meat thermometer). For medium-rare (135 F) to medium (140 F), leave the steaks on the coals for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove the steaks from the coals and brush off the ashes. Spread the melted butter over the top and add a squeeze of lemon before serving, if you desire.

Dwight Eisenhower wasn't the first or only cook to grill steaks directly on hot coals, but he was the most famous one to do it. One of many stories about Ike in the Eisenhower Library archives relates that he liked three-inch-thick beef strip steaks-also called New York strip, shell steak, or Kansas City strip-completely covered with salt and pepper, then placed directly on white-hot coals for a rare, charry-crusted steak that can be addictive. Sorry, gas grillers, but no dirty-steak cooking on your grill-you need the coals for this one! I have also grilled thick chuck roasts-similar to Ike's famous three-inch steaks-this way, cooking each side at least 15 minutes directly on the coals, with delicious results. This technique works well for any relatively tender protein of a uniform thickness; branch out and try thick pork chops or even a thick tuna steak.

The Author, Artie A. Davis A.K.A. Remus Powers PH.B. (Doctor of Barbecue Philosophy)