John Carruthers and Jesse Valenciana, two of the founders of Chicago-based grilling organization gone worldwide ManBQue, have published a cookbook. As you might expect, the 120 recipes of "ManBQue: Meat. Beer. Rock and Roll" (Running Press, 256 pages) are meat heavy and grill-centric, but this book goes much deeper than a caveman-level how to.
The opening chapter is a very clear and thorough walkthrough of grilling basics that everyone who's even seen a grill should read. The information is essential, and it sets up the tone of the whole book - a mixture of no-nonsense instruction and a sense of humor (we've all seen what the authors call a "Dad Fire", that inferno of charcoal and lighter fluid that turns burgers into, well, charcoal and lighter fluid).
Every chapter contains a mix of basic tips - indenting your burger, letting your steak rest - with adventurous recipes. Bacon-wrapped Italian sausage and beef-tongue tacos are among the more experimental dishes, but there are plenty of global flavor combinations that are more surprising than intimidating. Next to staple "man foods" like steaks and burgers is a grilled salad, a lobster roll, and a bacon bloody mary served in a hamburger shot glass.
There is a real made-from-scratch ethos going on in "ManBQue" that really makes it stand out from the herd. The comprehensive section on sauces and rubs starts with a recipe for homemade mayo and aoli; the beer chapter includes a recipe for pretzels from scratch alongside several beer cheeses and "cracker pork" rillettes. You'll learn how to make your own pitas and tortillas, salsas and seasonings.
"ManBQue" is defined more than anything by a lack of pretension. While praising craft brews, the authors say they'd rather drink Busch Light than get lectured by a flanneled bartender. While they think vegetarians are wrong, they include a vegetarian "compromise burger". And they encourage their readers to try new things. "You're vainly whoring for praise from family and friends", the first chapter reads. "It's supposed to be fun."