Fire up the grill and use these new backyard cookout recipes

More BBQ and Grilling for the Big Green Egg and other kamado-style cookers by pitmaster Eric C. Mitchell is $21.99, available now.
More BBQ and Grilling for the Big Green Egg and other kamado-style cookers by pitmaster Eric C. Mitchell is $21.99, available now. Photo provided

It’s grilling time, and if you are looking for help in the pursuit of grilling perfection, America’s Test Kitchen can help.

Master of the Grill is a new cookbook with almost 700 tips for everything from grilling the perfect burger to grilling lobster. The key to a nice, flat grilled burger? A dimple in the middle of the patty, which keeps patties from puffing up like tennis balls, it recommends.

That’s the great thing about America’s Test Kitchen. There is no piece of a dish, utensil or technique to small to sample or test. Best ketchup? Heinz Organic, sweetened with sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup. Into cheeseburgers? Their tasters said Boar’s Head has the best American cheese.

But you wouldn’t be a master of the grill if all you could do was a burger, so the new book has information about grilling steak, chicken, pork, fish and shrimp, pizza, vegetables and even salad.

The Surprisingly Successful Smoky Caesar Salad is a take on the steakhouse favorite grilled romaine. The keys is to use firm romaine hearts, not delicate outer leaves and to douse them liberally with a mayonnaise-based dressing, which also goes on the finished salad.

More BBQ and Grilling

If you are a fan of the Big Green Egg ceramic cookers, this cookbook will give you more range. In addition to meats, including poultry and seafood, pitmaster Eric C. Mitchell has a full lineup of recipes for appetizers, sides, desserts, pizza and bread, casseroles and stews and even desserts.

He gives you options like Indonesian Beef Satay and Tandoori Chicken, as well as Bacon Cinnamon Rolls.

The Smoking Bacon & Hog Cookbook

If your grilling game runs more to barbecue, this book is right up your alley. Especially if you like your barbecue made from pork.

Champion pitmaster Bill Gillespie includes recipes for just about every part of the pig and inventive ways to use bacon. Take the Bacon Weave, basically a basketweave of bacon cooked on the grill, something Gillespie suggests serious bacon lovers “really need to have in their arsenal” that’s perfect for wrapping a breakfast burrito or layering a quesadilla.

Gillespie finds ways to work bacon into some interesting places, such as Bacon-Wrapped Onion Rings, Chocolate Bacon Bark with whiskey caramel sauce, and Pig Shots, which are basically bacon-wrapped sausage and cream cheese appetizers. Hungry yet?

Tiki with a Twist

If you’re cooking out, why not make it a party? This book has recipes for 75 “cool, fresh, and wild tropical cocktails” such as the Gin Beach Breeze. The tiki is back in a big way but it goes far beyond the Zombie and Tahitian Rum Punch.

Author Lynn Calvo, who owns waterfront bar Lynn’s Hula Hut in Montauk, N.Y., is known for its laid-back vibe and delicious drinks. Now you can turn your backyard into a suburban oasis even without tiny paper umbrellas.

The Southern Vegetable Book

A cookout needs more than meat, so check out some of these recipes from cooking instructor Rebecca Lang. The book is organized by season, so you will always be cooking what should be readily available at the local farmers markets.

For spring, there’s Layered Carrot Cake made with 4 1/2 cups of grated carrots and Georgia Shrimp and Radish Salad. Summer dives into sweet corn, eggplant, field peas and okra. For fall, she turns to cauliflower, turnips and mushrooms. Winter features Brussels sprouts, cabbage and sweet potatoes.

Melissa’s Southern Cookbook

Every backyard cookout needs a terrific dessert to wrap things up. And food writer Melissa Sperka includes several in her book of family recipes, including Granma’s Famous Blueberry Icebox Pie, an almost cheesecake-like dessert that will win fans. There’s also a luscious-looking Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake and French Vanilla Cake with Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting.

Sperka’s book also includes the kind of homestyle favorites that Southern cooks cherish, such as Gooey 5-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese and Chicken ’N’ Dumplins.

Grilled Caesar Salad

From Master of the Grill from America’s Test Kitchen


1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 anchovy fillets, rinsed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1 12-inch baguette, cut on the bias into 5-inch-long, 1/2-inch thick slices

3 tablespoons, extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled

3 romaine lettuce hearts (18 ounces), halved lengthwise through cores

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the dressing: Combine lemon juice and garlic in bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Process mayonnaise, Parmesan, vinegar, Worchestershire, mustard, anchovies, salt, pepper, and lemon-garlic mixture in blender for about 30 seconds. With blender running, slowly add oil. Measure out 6 tablespoons dressing and set aside for brushing romaine.

For a charcoal grill, open bottom vent completely, light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briguettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

For a gas grill, turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.

For the salad: Clean and oil cooking grate. Brush bread with oil and grill (on hotter side if using charcoal), uncovered, until browned, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to platter and rub with garlic clove. Brush cut sides of romaine with reserved dressing; place half of romaine, cut side down, on grill (on hotter side if using charcoal). Cook, uncovered, until lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes. Move to platter with bread. Repeat. Drizzle romain with remaining dressing. Spring with Parmesan. Serve.

Gin Beach Breeze

From Tiki with a Twist

8 ounces premium dry gin

8 ounces pomegranate juice

6 ounces grapefruit juice

2 ounces lime juice

1 ounce pineapple juice

4 lime wedges for garnish

Combine the gin and juices in a large container or pitcher, approximately 32 ounces. Secure with a lid and lightly shake. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or, better yet, put the container in a cooler packed with ice and head to the beach. Fill four highball glasses with ice, shake the mixture lightly again, and pour evenly into each of the glasses. Garnish each with a lime wedge and enjoy.

Serves four.

Granma’s Famous Blueberry Icebox Pie

From Melissa’s Southern Cookbook by Melissa Sperka


2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup salted butter, melted

1/4 cup sliced almonds, roughly chopped

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Cream cheese filling:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 (2.6-ounce box Dream Whip (dried whipped topping mix, use 2 envelopes)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 (18-ounce) can premium blueberry pie filling

1 cup sweetened fresh whipped cream (optional)

To make the crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-inch pie dish with cooking spray. Set aside. In a medium-size mixing bowl, toss together the graham cracker crumbs, butter, almonds, and granulated sugar. Press firmly onto the bottom and sides of the prepared pie dish.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until set and beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

To make the filling: In a medium-size mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese, Dream Whip, cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla and almond extracts. Beat for two minutes, or until fluffy and smooth.

Spread evenly into the cooled crust. Spread the blueberry pie filling on top.

Refrigerate for at least four hours, preferably overnight, before serving. Top with whipped cream, if desired.