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Charred & Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang

Workman Publishing2012, paperback, 265 pages, many recipes, many color photos.

Perry Lang is a serious classically trained chef, a veteran of Le Cirque and Daniel, and, as the proprietor of Daisy May’s BBQ USA in NYC and as a competitor on the barbecue circuit, he knows a lot about barbecue and grilling.

This new book shows off his macho cooking philosophy and several clever concepts, chief among them, board dressings, which I describe in detail on a whole page devoted to the subject. That page includes a video of APL in action. He mixes oil and minced herbs on the cutting board and then cuts the meat rolling it around in the herbed oil. So simple, but this is a super way to add flavor to grilled foods, and I use it often now that he has taught me how.

Scruffing is his word for what I call gashing, a technique for roughing the surface of meat to create more surface for marinades to penetrate and for more browning. I write about it on my page about marinating and every cook should add this method to his or her repertoire.

Pleasantly, his attitude is very laid back, informal, educational, and fun. His standard “Four Seasons Rub” is simply salt, cayenne, black pepper, and garlic salt. He is photographed at work not in his professional kitchen dressed in chef’s whites, not at poolside in the Hamptons, but in T-shirts on cheap grills, usually a Weber kettle, in what appears to be a humble back yard.

As enamored as I am over his methods there are a few iconoclastic things he does that I cannot abide. One is using a microplane to grate lump charcoal and use the powder as a seasoning. I am not convinced that all lump charcoal doesn’t havea few chunks of chemically treated lumber in the bag, and I don’t get the draw of putting pure carbon on my food. I work hard not to carbonize my meat!

He also takes a beautiful bone in beef rib roast and pounds the bejeezus out of it with a baseball bat until it is sort of flat like a huge thick steak. I just don’t get it. Rib roasts are already tender, they don’t need help. And if you want steaks, it’s a snap to cut perfect even thickness ribeyes from the roast. Yes, it is dramatic and it will get him on TV, but you won’t see me doing this anytime soon.

He’s also fond of what he calls clinching, just laying the meat on hot coals. I don’t wantto get into it here, but I think there are better ways to sear meat.

I see this book as a source of ideas and inspiration more than a cookbook of recipes. For example, one recipe is for a spectacular looking thick frisbee size steak he says is called a “mansteak” in England. He says it comes from the rump and surrounding musckes, but gives no info about how to order it. I’ve never seen one, and my butcher had no idea how to cut one.

Still, there is a lot to learn from Chef Perry Lang, this is unlike any of the hundreds of cookbooks I own, and no other barbecue book has inspired me and gotten me thinking like this one.

Check the price and buy Charred & Scruffed from Amazon

Published On: 6/17/2018 Last Modified: 2/24/2021

 

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