Grilling and Smoking Basics: Cookbooks (and recipes!) to help brush up your skills

Grilling. Barbecue. What's the difference, you may ask. Well, the two are as separate and intertwined as related topics can be. Simply put, grilling is cooking with direct heat. Imagine a fury of flames reaching for the food. Barbecue, on the other hand, relies on indirect heat and smoke. Both have fervent adherents, many who like to write and publish cookbooks. First up in a series of Epi-Log posts on grilling and barbecue cookbooks are 25: Essentials: Techniques for Smoking and 25 Essentials: Techniques for Grilling (Harvard Common Press) by Ardie A. Davis.

Davis, Ph.B (Doctor of Barbecue Philosophy) and resident of Kansas City , Missouri , tackles these two methods with a gentle but firm hand. After reading both books, you will have no excuses for not using your grill to cook because he covers a range of techniques and ingredients in these two books. Want to know how to smoke shellfish? Turn to page 44 of Smoking and cook up some Barbecued Shrimp Pasta Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette. Care to learn how to glaze your food? Technique #10 in Grilling will show you how with Barbecue-Glazed Pork Chops and Steak. For each recipe in Smoking, Davis suggests a type of wood that will match the food being cooked. And thankfully, he includes information for a few places where you can obtain the suggested woods (both books include a list of resources).

Ultimately, what I appreciate about both books is Davis 's ability to break down each method in a way that I find comprehensible. And with that comprehension comes a sense of confidence that yes, perhaps one day, I, too, could obtain my Ph.B. You can, too!

Recipes to try from Techniques for Grilling:
- Dirty Steak
- Grilled Pineapple and Bananas with Lemonade Glaze

Recipes to try from Techniques for Smoking:
- Vine-Smoked Trout
- Smoke-Roasted Rustic Root Vegetable

Learn more about barbecue and grilling from fellow grilling experts Elizabeth Karmel and Steve Raichlen, and Chris Schlessinger.

For more on grilling, including tips, recipes, and tools check out the complete Grilling Guide.

by Esther Sung