Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue

Memorial Day means grilling, barbecuing, and succumbing to a passion for fire and smoke. It also brings a load of BBQ books and gadgets, TV cooking and travel shows, and cook wear just right for the seasoned pit chef. This year is no exception.

Super Chef tackles Steven Raichlen‘s Planet Barbecue (Workman 2010), the accompanying book for his PBS series Primal Grill. It announces on the cover “309 Recipes, 60 Countries: An Electrifying Journey Around the World’s Barbecue Trail” and it does not disappoint.

It is a book jam-packed with BBQ excitement, and if you have traveled, plenty of recipes that you might recognize from your own trips – and plenty more tidbits and background that might help you plan your next trip.

Super Chef is particularly familiar with Turkish grilling techniques and was pleased to see that Steven includes some excellent recipes from Turkey and neighboring regions. He includes a recipe for pide, Turkish Puff Bread (p. 107) that goes great with Adana Kebab Ground Lamb Kebabs with Turkish Hot Peppers (p. 334), the spicy, flat, ground meat kebabs, made with plenty of Aleppo pepper that are the basis for plenty of variations in Turkey, some of which Steven includes like the unusual Fistik Kebab (p. 336) and Onion Kebabs (Sogar Kebab [sic]0. There is also an essay about a Turkish grill master (p. 338), and a essay covering Turkish grilling techniques, history, and restaurants (p. 301).

Steven covers the neighboring countries of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Greece and Uzbekistan, which all share many similarities with Turkish grilled foods.

If Turkey seems a bit tame, Steven’s travels range from The Philippines to Serbia to Mauritius and Japan with many stops around the US. The recipes cover all kinds of meat from beef and game to lamb and goat, fish, vegetables, breads, and desserts. The book encourages you to wander between countries, because not all of a particular cuisine’s recipes are in one chapter.

Planet Barbecue may be a companion book to a TV series, but it is also a fun book to explore. It’s Memorial Day weekend – if you can’t go on holiday – at least eat like you are!

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