In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - Around the Fire: Recipes for Inspired Grilling and Seasonal Feasting from Ox Restaurant

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Jul 3, 2017 8:00 AM
Around the Fire

Around the Fire: Recipes for Inspired Grilling and Seasonal Feasting from Ox Restaurant, by Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, with Stacy Adimando, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.  Photography credit: Evan Sung © 2016.

Our Summary:

A more current spin on the backyard barbecue than your traditional "big book" or "bibles," Around the Fire, is as captivating in its photographic images as it is with its innovative and flavorful year-round grilling recipes.  You need look no further than the pages of Around the Fire to find everything you need to cook for an outdoor party.  And, while there's a definite Latin/South American flair to the impressive flavor profiles, these are the recipes that encourage long relaxed meals shared around a table filled with friends and family.

Get it: Around the Fire: Recipes for Inspired Grilling and Seasonal Feasting from Ox Restaurant, by Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, with Stacy Adimando. Photography credit: Evan Sung © 2016.  Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC March 29, 2016, Hardcover, $32.50 (Amazon $15.88; eBbook $18.99)

See it: 272 pages with 94 photos, which includes a photo of just about every completed recipe.  There are also a few step-by-step photos for breaking down a whole fish and making empanadas.  Chapters include Beginnings, From the Grill that includes chapters on grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables, From the Garden, and Sweets and Drinks.

Make it: 87 primary recipes with at least that many more component recipes to make the completed dish.

Our Review:

If you look forward to weekends and outdoor cooking - regardless of the season, you'll enjoy the restaurant-like inventive, flavorful, recipes offered up by chef/authors Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton of the celebrated Ox restaurant in Portland, Oregon.  While the first few color photographs of blazing fires and open outdoor grills big enough to hold a side of beef might be intimidating, a quick glance through the thorough table of contents or the pages of the book prove that even complex can be straightforward.  Whether you are cooking for wood-, charcoal-, and gas-fired home grills, Around the Fire provides a solid 15-page primer for your favored grilling method.

It's not hard to dive in and find something manageable for your first cooking endeavor with this book.  Grilled Maple-Brined Pork Chops or Grilled Side of Salmon get you comfortable and ready to dive into Grilled Foie Gras with caramelized onion-sherry broth, savoy cabbage, and gruyere toasts.  Or, stay simple: Grilled New Potato and Onion Skewers with bacon sherry cream, take your barbecue game to the next level. 

While you'll find a whole host of lesser known (but easily tracked down) cuts of meat and ingredients (oyster leaves anyone? No worries - opt for the suggested substitution of edible flowers), there are steaks, too.  And, a whole host of seasonal vegetables and seafood.  But unlike most grilling cookbooks, Around the Fire has enough sautéed side dishes, crisp salads, creamy soups, chilled ceviches, and roasted and toasted elements that accent and balance every meal.  Vegetarian?  No problem.  Plenty of options are here for most dietary parameters. 

For those beginning their foray into backyard cooking, Around the Fire includes a smart primer that condenses some 13-years of worldwide cooking experience down to 9 pages of grilling basics - from the styles of grill, to types of fuel, to essential tools.  And while it sounds a bit prosaic, the entire page dedicated to lighting the fire is worth a serious study.  Interested in turning your grill into a smoker?  They've got step-by-step instructions including notes on hot versus cold smoking, and the overrated crosshatched grill marks.

Many, but certainly not all, of the recipes in Around the Fire require a bit of effort, and you'll be glad for it: the results are worth it in exciting flavors and inspired grilled food.  Besides offering up a pleasant change in what a "grilling cookbook" should be, the gorgeous photography in Around the Fire of the food - the salads, seafood and grilled meats, the desserts and even cocktails, warrant serious consideration of this book.  It feels like the way grilling should be.  Intense and engaging without being overwhelming.  Its pages are inspiring and full of flavor that promises long delicious evenings in the backyard. 

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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