Hot dogs and hamburgers may still be standard barbecue fare in this country, but thanks to grilling gurus Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison, our cookout repertoire need not stop there.
From Honey and Lime Thai Pork Chops to Tiger Prawns With Green Curry Rub, dishes sizzle with imagination in the husband-and-wife team's latest book from the "Hot" series, "Hot Barbecue" (Ten Speed Press, 1996).
Without being disparaging of America's beloved barbecue food (the book even includes a recipe for burgers - Southwestern style), Mr. Carpenter and Ms. Sandison help jump-start backyard cooks' creativity with mouth-watering photographs and more than 60 recipes - all, they explain, can also be smoked, broiled, or oven roasted.
"Hot" in the book's title doesn't refer to fiery recipes but rather foods that are exciting and trendy with complex flavors derived from Asian, Southwestern, Mediterranean, Indian, and Caribbean spices, herbs, and sauces.
This talented twosome knows its stuff. Sandison has styled and photographed food for more than 40 cookbooks. Carpenter has taught more than 50,000 students in cooking schools across America, including his own school in Napa Valley, Calif. And together, they have collaborated on several critically acclaimed and internationally inspired cookbooks, including "Pacific Flavors" (1988), "Chopstix" (1990), and the "Fusion Food Cookbook" (1995).
So when they offer tips such as "Marinate fish for 5 minutes, but not longer than 30 minutes. Longer marinating can cause the flesh to deteriorate and become mushy," backyard cooks put down their spatulas and listen up. Other pointers like these on technique, equipment, and safety make "Hot Barbecue" a virtual bible on the art of creative grilling.
And with 84 percent of Americans firing up their grills 2.7 billion times annually, the market for guidance and originality is hotter than ever.
What's fueling the trend? Great flavor, outdoor environment, change of pace, easy cleanup, and informality, cooks recently told the National Barbecue Association.
Carpenter and Sandison, who barbecue several nights a week, say that "it's the easiest way to create complex-tasting food with a minimum of preparation time."
Those who are best at barbecuing never leave the grill, Carpenter says. "By staying with the food and cooking it more slowly, you'll make sure it doesn't burn. The worst thing a cook can do is cook by the timer, not checking the meat until the bell rings."
So toss aside that kitchen timer, warm up to the grill, and dazzle your guests with these recipes from "Hot Barbecue."
2 pounds large raw shrimp (about 40)
Lime slices for garnish (optional)
Flavorless oil to brush on the grill
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
4 serrano chilies, minced, including seeds
2 whole green onions, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro sprigs
1 tablespoon finely minced lime zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Thai fish sauce or thin soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons flavorless cooking oil
Using scissors, cut the shrimp shells along the back. Cut deeply into the shrimp, then rinse away the veins. Cover and refrigerate the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and stir well. If not using right away, cover and refrigerate. All advance preparation may be completed up to eight hours before the final steps.
Slice limes. Within 30 minutes of cooking, spoon the marinade under the shrimp shells. Keep refrigerated.
To Grill: If using a gas or electric grill, preheat to medium (350 degrees F.). If using charcoal or wood, prepare a fire. When the gas or electric grill is preheated or the coals or wood are ash covered, brush the cooking rack with the oil, then lay the shrimp on the grill or on a grill screen. As shrimp cooks, brush on the marinade.
Grill on both sides until they are evenly pink, about four minutes total cooking time (cut into shrimp to check doneness).
To Smoke: Bring shrimp to room temperature. Bring smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200 degrees to 220 degrees F. Smoke the shrimp for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are evenly pink on the outside and white throughout.
To Broil: Preheat broiler. Place shrimp about four inches from the heat source and broil for about four minutes, or until evenly pink on the outside and white throughout.
To Serve: Transfer shrimp to a heated serving platter or four heated dinner plates, garnish with lime slices and serve at once. Serves 4 as an entre.
Leg of Lamb
1 butterflied leg of lamb
Flavorless cooking oil to brush
on the cooking rack
1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 small dried red chilies, seeded or 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds or powder
1 teaspoon coriander seeds or powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
Seeds from 6 cardamom pods
1 whole clove
1/2-inch stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
6 cloves garlic
1-inch section ginger root, thinly sliced
1/4 cut flavorless cooking oil
Trim fat from the outside of lamb; place lamb in a nonreactive container. Set aside the cooking oil, if grilling.
In a bowl, combine the yogurt and lemon juice. In a small dry saut pan, combine the chilies, peppercorns, cumin, coriander, mustard, cardamom seeds, clove, and cinnamon. Saut over medium heat until the mustard seeds begin to "pop," about two minutes. Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the spices into a powder.
Transfer the powder to a bowl and add the salt, turmeric, nutmeg, and mace. In a food processor, mince the garlic and ginger. Add the ground spices and process briefly. With the machine on, slowly add the cooking oil and process into a paste. Transfer the curry paste to the bowl containing the yogurt and lemon juice and stir well.
Pour the marinade over the lamb, coat evenly on all sides, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 24 hours. All advance preparation may be completed up to 24 hours before you begin the final steps. One hour prior to cooking, remove the lamb from refrigerator.
To Grill: If using a gas or electric grill, preheat to medium (350 degrees F.). If using charcoal or wood, prepare a fire. When the gas or electric grill is preheated or the coals or wood are ash covered, brush the cooking rack with oil, then lay lamb flat in the center of the rack. Cover grill and regulate the heat so that is remains at a medium temperature. Grill until the internal temperature registers 145 degrees when an instant-read meat thermometer is inserted into center of the meat, about 25 to 30 minutes. The lamb will be medium rare. During grilling, brush with the marinade.
To Smoke: Prepare smoker by bringing the temperature to 200 degrees to 220 degrees F. Transfer lamb to the smoker; cook about 3 1/2 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. During smoking, brush with marinade.
To Roast: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Roast the lamb until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, about 30 minutes. During roasting, brush with marinade.
To Serve: Remove lamb from heat. Let rest five minutes. Slice lamb; transfer to a heated platter and serve at once.
Serves 8 as an entre.
Hot Grilling Techniques
"The essential equipment for grilling is not the grill, it's the griller," writes Hugh Carpenter in "Hot Barbecue." "The best grill chefs hover over the fire, baby the food, and share their thoughts about the theory, practice and mysteries of grilling to all who approach their cooking sanctum." That said, he shares the following thoughts:
* Always build a larger fire than you think necessary so coals do not burn out before the food has finished cooking.
* To prevent food from sticking, brush the cooking rack with flavorless cooking oil. Never use nonstick cooking spray.
* Most foods should be grilled over medium heat. Place your open hand, palm side down, 4 inches above the heat and count "1001, 1002, 1003." The heat is medium if it's hot enough to make you pull your hand away at "1003." While most gas grills come with a built-in thermometer, we find that this technique is a more accurate way to judge temperature.
* Food should be at room temperature so that it cooks more quickly and evenly.
* Don't overcrowd the grill so that the food touches. It's important that the heat rise around the sides of the food.
* If flare-ups occur due to fat dripping from the meat and/or because of oil in the marinade, spray the fire with a water spritzer.
* Turn food frequently. It's better to turn food too often than to wait too long and discover that it has burned on the underside.