This week I’m giving away a FREE copy of Grill Nation by David Guas, the host of the Travel Channel show, “American Grilled”! This 200-recipe cookbook shows you how to make great food on the grill, covering all sorts of proteins and showing you tips and tricks for even the most seasoned grilling pro.
I’ve been poring over the gorgeous photos and testing a few of the recipes, and so far I’m really enjoying it. The hubby usually mans the grill in our house (you know, because men and testosterone and open flames and all that), so I shoved him aside (figuratively and literally) for a couple of weeks so that I could try my hand at our mighty gas grill armed with my copy of Grill Nation. Bear in mind that I was testing recipes during our Whole30, and I wasn’t sure at first that there’d be many options available to me in a cookbook that wasn’t specifically geared towards a Paleo/Whole30 lifestyle.
As it turns out, there were plenty of sugar-free, grain-free recipes to choose from (Whole30, if you’ll recall, is the 30-day clean eating/restrictive diet program that prohibits consumption of alcohol, dairy, grains, refined sugars and legumes). The first recipe I made was the Grilled Lamb Neck with Mint Chimichurri (page 203), substituting lamb loin fillets for neck, since my grocery store butcher didn’t have any in stock the day I wanted to make this recipe. The mint chimichurri was a breeze to make using fresh mint and flat-leaf parsley we have in our herb garden, and the crushed red pepper flakes brought a nice heat to balance the sweetness in the mint. Since we’re grain-free right now, I made a butternut squash “rice” to accompany the grilled lamb, and the whole dish was a huge hit with our family. By hit, I mean that every single person, down to the smallest little Who in Whoville, was closing their eyes and moaning while eating the juiciest lamb you’ll ever have. Don’t worry, my beautiful, clean-eating readers. I will be posting the recipe later this week, and it’s a MUST TRY.
The second recipe I tried was the Top-Shelf Chicken Under a “Brick” (page 110) which is a grilled spatchcocked (i.e., backbone removed and flattened) chicken with a cast iron pan full of sizzling hot, crunchy potatoes set on top of it with charred lemons on the side. This recipe was the most complicated of the ones I tried, and also my least successful dish. The family liked it, especially the grilled lemons that are a warm, smoky/tart garnish for the chicken. I, however, sweated over this dish more than I wanted to admit as I was presenting it to them. There were so many steps — removing the backbone of the bird, squashing it until the breastbone broke, then pressing it under a cast-iron skillet full of potatoes and moving pans and chicken back and forth between direct and indirect heat on the grill — that I wouldn’t recommend this recipe to novice grillers. The steps took me much longer than the prescribed 1 hour and 50 minutes in the recipe, so much so that we didn’t eat dinner until 7:45pm the night I made this meal (that’s super late for us creaky parents with young kids, by the way). Still, by the time the whole shebang was over, I had a melt-in-your mouth juicy chicken, and the browned potatoes were homey and perfectly fluffy on the inside. It’s chicken the way it should be. Oh, but not for a weeknight meal. No, no, you’d probably end up waving a raw chicken backbone and swearing at David Guas and me. No one wants that.
The third recipe I tried from Grill Nation was the Caribbean Shrimp Kabobs, which calls for a pound and half of shrimp grilled after chilling out in an orange/lime juice/cilantro marinade. This recipe was magic. The marinade is easy enough to throw together after work, and you can let the shrimp hang out in this sour-sweet saucy goodness while you’re prepping other things for dinner and then throw the shrimp on the grill for just two minutes per side. I could not get enough of these shrimp, so much so that I made the hubby run out to Whole Foods a second time during the week to buy me beautiful, wild-caught tiger shrimp so that we could have this recipe again. I did what I like to call a classic repeat offense — where you love a dish so much you cook it again for your very next meal, social norms, dietary restrictions or plain common sense be damned.
In short, Grill Nation is a great cookbook for any grilling enthusiast or someone who aspires to be. The cookbook is very comprehensive, covering everything from appetizers and cocktails that are meant to be consumed in hot weather, meats and seafood, filling sides and some really decadent-looking desserts. You can buy a copy on Amazon here (and support my blog) , or click the link below for a chance to win a free copy of Grill Nation — the giveaway closes on Monday, June 8, 2015.