Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue! Cookbook

Planet_BarbecueWho: Steven Raichlen, the guy on PBS that hosts those barbecue shows, and who knows more than a thing or two about grilling.

What: He’s got a comprehensive new cookbook out, Planet Barbecue! An Electrifying Journey Around the World’s Barbecue Trail


  • Everything you wanted to know about fire, and cooking things with it.
  • I was skeptical at first but I really like how he’s taken the time to include a huge and very international set of recipes that celebrate how different cultures each have their own delicious versions of grilling and barbecuing food. (That’s right, he covers not just meat recipes, but vegetables, breads, and even desserts!)
  • Colorful pictures show grill masters from around the world, in front of their native barbecues
  • Simply-written yet informative articles about barbecuing in general, cooking with fire, and snapshots into the various people around the world that have inspired the recipes in the book. It brings out the geek in me!

Additional Notes:

  • When he talks about barbecue and grilling he means playing with fire. Since I live in a dense urban area with only a wimpy indoor electric grill, I was hesitant to try out his recipes and almost skipped over this book, since he offers little (well, no) sympathy to those without the real estate of a backyard or patio. Rest assured, you can find recipes that will work indoors, and I’ve included one below. I understand that providing “electric grill”-friendly recipes could be seen as insulting to the whole concept, of course, so you are on your own when deciding which recipes can translate well to your particular non-traditional grilling option.
  • Since it’s a book with international recipes in it, some of the ingredients may be hard to find at your neighborhood grocery store. He does offer up some substitutes, though they’ll still most likely be items you don’t have regularly lying around.

Sample Recipe:
Cumin-Grilled Chicken Breasts

  • 4 half chicken breasts, 8-10 oz each if bone-in and with skin-on, or 6 oz each if skinless and boneless
  • 1.5 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

This is adapted from his Cumin-Grilled Chicken Breasts with Fiery Bolivian Salsa. I took a risk and omitted the salsa because I was too impatient to locate any locoto or rocoto chiles. Though the recipe does allow jalapenos as a substitute I was more concerned about the food tasting well on an indoor grill, so that’s what I focused on.

Advance Prep: 30 min. – 1 hr to marinate the chicken

Prepare the chicken: Rinse the chicken breasts under cold running water. Blot them dry with paper towels. Season the chicken on both sides with the salt, pepper, and cumin. Drizzle the olive oil on both sides of the breasts, rubbing the oil and spices onto the meat with your fingertips. Let the breasts marinate in your fridge, covered, 30-60 minutes.

Assuming you are using an indoor grill: Heat the grill to its highest temperature. Lay the chicken breasts onto the grill and grill them until golden brown and cooked through, about 4-6 minutes per side for bone-in breasts, and 3-5 minutes per side for boneless breasts. (Of course, adjust this depending on the heat capabilities of your grill.)

I serve this with some steamed veggies and bread on the side.

This was extremely easy to prepare and cook (you don’t even have to tenderize the meat!) and the flavors were great. Next time I make this I’ll assemble the salsa to see how the flavor of the tomatoes and chiles combine with the cumin and chicken. Thanks Steven!

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