Memorial Day officially kicks off grilling season in America as backyard chefs eagerly pull the covers off their grills, smokers and egg-shaped cookers.With dancing flames and plenty of showmanship involved, cooking outside has become a spectator sport.But before you ignite that fire, peruse these recipes from four newly released cookbooks that have earned a spot in our backyard kitchens.We thumbed through each and found not only several menu items worthy of a summer cookout, but blueprints for entertaining, crash courses on culinary literacy, historical anecdotes, step-by-step instruction on building outdoor cookers, plus lots of lush photography so we can envision the end result.Let the flames begin! ‘The Meat Hook Meat Book: Buy, Butcher and Cook Your Way to Better Meat’By Tom MylanArtisan, $37.50A former vegetarian turned meat maven, Tom Mylan became a carnivore after tasting meat raised by local family farms in New York. Now he’s the executive chef and co-owner of a sustainable butcher shop in Brooklyn that shares the same name as his first cookbook. The Meat Hook Meat Book: Buy, Butcher and Cook Your Way to Better Meat demystifies meat not only for aspiring butchers and gourmands, but for the average home cook. With recipes categorized by meat type — beef, pork, lamb, duck, rabbit and so on — the book also educates the reader on farming, breeding and slaughter practices as well as buying sustainable, humanely raised meat.Expect two-page spreads of butchered raw carcasses with detailed labeling identifying each cut. (If you’ve never cut up a whole animal, start with a chicken, which Mylan calls the gateway meat for a budding butcher.) Try his straightforward recipe for pork spareribs shown here, dubbed “rooftop” for his days smoking meats atop his Brooklyn apartment building. ‘Cooking With Fire’By Paula Marcoux Storey Publishing, $19.95Food historian Paula Marcoux worked professionally as an archaeologist in a past life and regularly gives workshops on historical baking, natural leavening and wood-fire cooking.In her first cookbook, Cooking With Fire, the food editor of Edible South Shore magazine leads readers through an examination of live-fire cooking across cultures and throughout the ages. The book is as much a DIY guide to building heat-harnessing structures as it is a food history lesson with recipes.Learn how to spit roast, bake bread under ashes, sear with a hot iron and make a hot bed of hardwood coals for Marcoux’s flavorful and tender beef, red pepper, and mushroom skewers. She recommends serving them with flatbread or a grain side dish. ‘Taming the Feast: Ben Ford’s Field Guide to Adventurous Cooking’By Ben Ford with Carolynn CarrenoAtria Books, $34.99His handcrafted feasts of enormous proportions are known to wow crowds in his home state of California, where Ben Ford, chef and owner of Ford’s Filling Station and son of respected actor Harrison Ford, will whole-roast a pig, prep paella for 80 or dole out burgers for an entire block.Readers can do the same by using Ford’s first cookbook , Taming the Feast: Ben Ford’s Field Guide to Adventurous Cooking, as a guide. Touted as a “culinary MacGyver,” Ford also provides illustrated instructions for constructing a cinder block oven, smoking shed, baking barrel and roasting box. Contents are broken out by feasts — a lakehouse fish fry, Hill Country barbecue and Sunday roast are a few.Each feast starts with a helpful timeline of to-dos. Last on the list for these grilled beer-braised brats with semi-homemade sauerkraut, which come from the book’s Burger and Bratwurst Block Party chapter, is “Grab a beer and start grilling.” ‘Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys’By Steven RaichlenWorkman Publishing, $24.95Man cannot live by grill alone, says barbecue guru Steven Raichlen in his newest cookbook, Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys, which aims to teach the guys how to navigate the kitchen with confidence using knife talk, cast iron-skillet cuisine, and recipes like rum and Coke floats and candied bacon sundaes to draw them inside.There are also interviews with fellow “food dudes” like Andrew Zimmern, Thomas Keller, Jose Andres and others on technique, favorite foods and philosophies. But the master griller, who brought us the Barbecue! Bible cookbook series and TV shows Primal Grill and Barbecue University, provides plenty of opportunity to play with fire with recipes like this planked salmon, which can go on the grill or in the oven if it rains come cookout time.The wooden plank and three-ingredient glaze makes the meal simple enough for a weeknight yet spectacular enough for a party.
Get ready for summer week!
Monday: Great new grilling cookbooks; children’s safety tips
May 27: Poolside reads
May 28: Best craft beers of the season
May 29: A guide to summer events for kids and families
May 31: Teacher gifts elementary students can make
June 2: Summer TV preview
Beef, red pepper and mushroom skewers
Makes 6-8 servings
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
3 cilantro roots (about 1/2 tablespoon), minced (if available)
4 cloves garlic or 2 garlic scapes, minced
1/2 teaspoon flavorful hot red pepper, like New Mexico chile or Aleppo pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tri-tip beef roast (about 2 pounds), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large red bell pepper, cut in 1-inch bits
12 ounces button mushrooms, halved or quartered (similar size as pepper and beef)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped
1. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the pepper, coriander and cumin to a chunky powder. Add the cilantro roots, garlic, red pepper, and salt, and pound to a rough paste. Work in the oil and vinegar, mashing it all well together. Massage this mixture into the beef chunks and let it come to room temperature, covered. (Alternatively, you may prepare ahead to this point and chill until ready to proceed.)
2. Prepare a medium-hot bed of hardwood coals.
3. Thread meat and vegetables alternately on bamboo or metal skewers. Grill, turning to brown all sides.
4. Slip off skewers and toss with chopped cilantro before serving.
Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 6: 396 calories, 29 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 87 milligrams cholesterol, 714 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 65 percent of calories from fat.
— from ‘Cooking With Fire’ by Paula Marcoux
Grilled beer-braised bratwursts
Makes 8 servings
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 8 tablespoons (1 stick), melted, for brushing on the buns
4 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
Freshly ground black pepper
8 Wisconsin-style brats or store-bought bratwursts (5 to 6 ounces each), pricked with a fork in several places
Four 12-ounce bottles beer, or as needed
1 cup semi-homemade sauerkraut (recipe follows) or store-bought sauerkraut
8 quality hot dog buns
Mustard, for serving
1. Fire up a charcoal grill or a gas grill to high heat with the lid closed to help it get nice and hot.
2. Put a Dutch oven or another medium pot on a corner of the grill or on the stovetop over medium heat. Put in the butter, garlic, and cayenne and cook for about a minute, stirring so the garlic doesn’t brown. Stir in the brown sugar, caraway seeds, and 6 to 7 turns of black pepper. Add the brats and enough beer to cover the brats by 1 to 2 inches. Bring the beer to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Add the kraut, including the liquid it’s packed in, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the bratwursts are cooked through; they will have expanded and the meat will be tight in its casing. The brats are now ready to be eaten, but you can keep them in the liquid until you’re ready to grill and serve them.
4. Brush the cut sides of the buns lightly with melted butter. Put the buns cut side down on the grill to toast until golden brown. Transfer the toasted buns to a roasting pan or disposable aluminum pan and tent with foil to keep warm.
5. Use tongs to lift the brats out of the liquid. Grill them, turning them as necessary, until they have crusty bark on the outside, about 10 minutes. Serve the brats on the toasted buns with mustard and a heap of the sauerkraut on top.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 763 calories, 56 grams fat, 34 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 132 milligrams cholesterol, 1,234 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 68 percent of calories from fat.
— from ‘Taming the Feast’ by Ben Ford
Makes 1 quart, enough for 32 brats
2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
One 16-ounce bag sauerkraut
1. Pour the boiling water into a bowl. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve them. Stir in the mustard seeds, caraway seeds, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Add the sauerkraut and stir to combine.
2. Pack the seasoned sauerkraut in a 1-quart jar with as much liquid as will fit. Let it come to room temperature. Put the lid on the jar and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it, up to 2 weeks. Remove and discard the bay leaves before serving.
Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 32: 6 calories, trace fat, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace protein, no cholesterol, 271 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 5 percent of calories from fat.
Planked salmon with lemon-mustard glaze
Makes 4 servings
2 pounds boneless salmon fillet, preferably wild
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
2⁄3 cup mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s
1⁄3 cup Dijon or Meaux mustard
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, or to taste
1. Soak the plank in cold water in a large pot, in the sink or on a rimmed baking sheet for 30 minutes (keep it submerged by placing a pot on top). Drain and wipe the plank dry.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees or set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat it to medium-high.
3. Run your fingers over the salmon fillet, feeling for pin bones. Remove any you find with needle-nose pliers or kitchen tweezers.
4. Generously season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange it, skin side down, on the damp plank.
5. Place the mayonnaise, mustard and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Using a rubber spatula, spread the glaze over the top and sides of the salmon.
6. If you are baking the salmon, place the fish on its plank on a baking sheet or a piece of aluminum foil in the oven. Bake the salmon until the glaze is puffed, bubbling and browned and the fish is cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. To check for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer in the wide end of the fish for 15 seconds. When the salmon is done, the thermometer will register 145 degrees. Or insert a thin metal skewer into the fish and leave it there about 15 seconds; when the salmon is done, the skewer will come out hot to the touch.
If you are grilling the salmon, place the fish on its plank in the center of the grill away from the heat. Close the lid and grill the salmon until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. To check for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer in the wide end of the fish for 15 seconds. When the salmon is done, the thermometer will register 145 degrees. Or insert a thin metal skewer into the fish; when the salmon is done the skewer will come out hot to the touch.
7. Transfer the fish on its plank to a heatproof platter and serve it right off the plank.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 541 calories, 40 grams fat, 1 gram carbohydrates, 47 grams protein, 131 milligrams cholesterol, 611 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 65 percent of calories from fat.
— from ‘Man Made Meals’ by Steven Raichlen
Makes 4 servings
1 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 racks St. Louis-style spareribs
1 cup cider vinegar
Large Weber charcoal barbecue grill, or the like
Nonreactive food-safe container
Wood chunks of your choice
Small spray bottle
1. The day before you plan to eat the ribs, mix the salt and sugar in a small bowl. Put the ribs in the nonreactive food-safe container and rub the sugar-and-salt mixture all over them. Wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and place on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
2. On the day of the main event, build a small charcoal fire off to one side of your grill, as far away as possible from where your smoking is going to go on, preferably directly over the bottom vent. Once the fire has burned to white coals, remove the ribs from the plastic wrap, put them on the grill, cover, and open both the top and bottom vents. Cook for 30 minutes.
3. Fill a small spray bottle with the cider vinegar. Add 2 or 3 wood chunks to the coals and close the top and bottom vents about halfway. Continue adding chunks of wood, keeping the heat going at a nice gentle smoke for about 3 hours. Lightly spray the ribs with the vinegar and flip them every 45 minutes or so.
Note: When the ribs are about done, they will start looking done. What does that look like? Uh, like ribs that are done! Seriously. You’ve eaten ribs — you know what they look like: glossy with glaze and the meat pulling back from the rib tips. When in doubt, cut off a rib and try one. Not tender enough? Give them another 30 to 45 minutes, then try again. Dry? Better luck next time and don’t add as much wood/heat. Either way, serve immediately.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 321 calories, 25 grams fat, 5 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams protein, 82 milligrams cholesterol, 1,492 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber, 71 percent of calories from fat.
— from ‘The Meat Hook Meat Book’ by Tom Mylan