Grilling, By the Culinary Institute of America, Lebhar-Friedman Books, 232 pp., $35
Besides being the country's best known and foremost cooking school, the Culinary Institute of America is something of a media juggernaut, with its popular TV show and many books. Publications for home cooks, particularly ``Cooking at Home With the CIA" and ``Baking at Home With the CIA," both published by Wiley, which also produces the institute's massive textbook, ``The Professional Chef," have struck a neat balance between careful basic techniques and interesting recipes that build on those techniques without overcomplicating them.
``Grilling" is part of this consumer-oriented line of books published by Lebhar - Friedman. It's not as rigorous as the Wiley line, which would never have allowed this book to go forth without a lengthy and much-needed chapter on direct versus indirect grilling techniques. That, and recipes that don't seem to be tightly selected or carefully proofed, strike me as missed opportunities. Cooks turn to this famous cooking school for its pedagogical authority.
Still, there's an abundance of well-organized information that you probably won't find elsewhere. Time and temperature guidelines for different sorts of protein are given, as is a chart with different types of wood chips and what they complement. And the emphasis on recipes is reassuring in its own way.
Barbecued spare ribs with an apricot-ancho glaze, are rich, sweet and as smoky as one could hope for . Grilling sweet corn concentrates its sugars, and roasted garlic butter makes a sensuous accompaniment.
Bathed for a day in a customary yogurt-spice marinade, tandoori-style chicken comes off the grill moist and deeply flavored. Grilled asparagus and bell peppers benefit from a brief but uplifting bath of lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs.
The practical tips that have made other CIA books noteworthy are sometimes missing. How do you move a precariously balanced ``beer-can" chicken from one side of a hot grill to the other without tipping it over? How do you replenish your coals halfway through a long, slow cook? Improvising solutions to these weighty dilemmas, I can assure you from experience, is never a good idea.
Despite this oversight, anyone who picks up ``Grilling" before the long Memorial Day weekend will probably not be disappointed.
With its plethora of ideas (the volume even includes desserts), the book can turn what might have been a steamy, sweaty evening in the kitchen into a couple of pleasant hours outdoors over the open flame, in the company of cold beer. What else is summer for?