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Sam the Cooking Guy - Cookbook Review

Just Grill This!

By Sam Zien

(Wiley, 2011)

Read our review of Sam Zien's Just Grill This!

It's hard to say what Sam Zien is most famous for: inventing the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or chastising Today show hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb for their constant interruptions. Zien wants everyone — not just macho men — to fire up the grill and he believes that almost anything — save for eggs, spaghetti and cheese — can be grilled... even lettuce! The philosophy of Sam the Cooking Guy boils down to this: food, grill, eat. In his irreverent, playful and very useful new book, the host of the Emmy Award-winning TV show Just Cook This! rails against what he considers pretentious, BBQ-contest type grilling. He feels there's too much bravado in the business of barbecuing these days. So he serves up recipes for easy dishes that also don't require a fancy, expensive grill.

Zien opens the book with a few fun grilling dos and don'ts along with some basic rubs and sauces (mostly — gasp! — involving mixing a couple ingredients into ketchup or mayo). The rest of the book is divided into ten sections: Small Things, Things Not Normally Grilled, My Favorite Cooking Guy Sandwiches (a great chapter), Vegetables, Beef, Not Beef, Seafood, Dogs & Burgers, Grilling Inside, and Drinks and Dessert. Each chapter has a little something for everyone, including recipes such as Porterhouse with Herb Garlic Butter; BBQ Shrimp Po' Boys; and Mexican Grilled Corn and Parmesan Heart of Palm. These simple dishes blend familiar favorites with Zien's idiosyncratic new twists. For adventurous souls, Zien offers up exotics such as Grilled Baguette French Toast and Steak and Mashed Potato Quesadillas in his Things Not Normally Grilled section.

While we wish that Just Grill This! featured more photos of the actual recipes and fewer of Sam grilling, eating or looking into the camera (yes, we get it: these pix are supposed to be funny and many are!), this design approach matches his conversational tone, witty rhetoric and snarky commentary. All in all, it's a great book for beginners who feel a tad mystified by the whole grilling business, anyone who's looking to add new, doable recipes to their repertoire, and of course, fans of Sam the Cooking Guy.

Sam Zien's recipe for Five-Spice Grilled Chicken

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