A backyard-loving guy, Al Roker's passionate about firing up all three of his grills at once and cooking everything from Steaks As Big As Your Head and Kansas City-Style Ribs to Grilled Sea Bass.
The hundred recipes in this book are casual and simple -- just the way Al likes to cook for his family and friends. Like most of us, Al first learned to grill at the knee of his dad, whose policy was "the more lighter fluid, the better." But a trip to the Memphis in May Barbecue Championship ignited a real passion, and since then Al's grills have rarely grown cold. And while Al does have some hard-and-fast rules, like "don't keep moving your meat around" and "never touch another man's grill," his food is simple yet inventive, impressive and delicious.
In addition to great stuff for over the fire -- Jerk Chicken, Marinated Pork Tenderloin, Kebabs Cooked Right, New Orleans-Style Barbecued Shrimp, Fish Fillets with Lemon-Parsley Sauce, Turkey on the Grill, and, from "The Wurst City in the World," Sheboygan Bratwurst -- Al Roker's Big Bad Book of Barbecue has something for everyone, including recipes for quick-and-easy starters, marinades, main-dish salads, sides, classic American desserts, cooling drinks, vegetarian dishes, and low-fat fare.
So lean back in that lawn chair and have a sip of Lemon-Lime Fizz. Munch on a Spicy Wing or some BBQ Popcorn. That brisket should take care of itself in another hour or so.
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the smoke blows, but nonetheless, here is Roker (Don't Make Me Stop This Car) in an attempt to amuse, instruct and otherwise cash in on the craze that is backyard barbecue. Despite its demonstrative title, this effort is medium-sized and mediocre. With the aid of food columnist Marialisa Calta, Roker sets out his favorite grilling recipes and tips amid a squalor of bad puns and folksy humor. Jerk Chicken, he explains, "is not a recipe named after your boss." In his "Five Rules" for grilling he warns not to move meat around with a fork lest the juices run out. Yet, for one of his signature dishes, "Steaks As Big As Your Head," he advises making several small cuts in the meat to press garlic into. Elsewhere, ribs, pulled pork, burgers and wieners are prepared in simple styles that first-time grill owners will appreciate. Only about a third of the collection concerns itself with the art of introducing meat, fish and poultry to fire. The rest of the book is consumed by appetizers, salads, sauces, drinks and desserts. Roker admits to being "no more qualified than you are" to write a cookbook, but at least he knows what he likes and is happy to share the knowledge. Can Alain Ducasse on the Weather Channel be far behind?