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Book Review: Man Made Meals by Steven Raichlen

I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Steven’s new cookbook, Man Made Meals. (Subtitle: The Essential Cookbook for Guys. Perfect for me, right?)

I have to tell you up front – this review is biased. Steven Raichlen is a major influence on my cooking. His Barbecue Bible series of cookbooks are essential references for grilling, and How To Grill is the first book I recommend to novice grillers. I even used his Beer Can Chicken cookbook as a model for my own Rotisserie Grilling cookbook. I owe Steven a debt of gratitude. Even though we’ve only met once, at a book signing, he taught me a lot of what I know about cooking.

Strengths

This is Steven’s “Joy of Cooking” – a massive collection of globetrotting recipes, covering everything from breakfast through dessert, with techniques from sauteing to baking, roasting to stir-frying. (And, don’t worry, he doesn’t abandon the grill – there are plenty of grilling recipes sprinkled throughout.) If there is a recipe you might want to try at home, it’s in there. The opening chapters cover the basics of cooking, from seasoning, to stocking a kitchen, to meal planning.

There is an amazing amount of information in this book. Steven poured out everything he’s learned from his years of cooking, travel, interviews, research, and testing. The goal is for this cookbook to be a one-stop reference for a guy who is also an enthusiastic home cook.

Weaknesses

I think this book’s greatest strength – the breadth of coverage – is also its only weakness. When I heard about Man Made Meals, I thought it would be more like Steven’s How to Grill – a smaller number of recipes with step by step pictures of basic techniques, leading guys into the kitchen by the hand. Instead, it is one of Steven’s “Bible” books, a thick tome covering everything. So: Steven, if you’re reading this, I have an idea for a follow up book. “Man Made Meals – How to Cook”, covering key cooking techniques, with the same detailed picture style of “How to Grill”. Thank you in advance.
Until then, I recommend Pam Anderson’s brilliant How to Cook Without a Book as a companion to Man Made Meals. Pam to focus on the basic techniques; Steven to give you a wide range of recipes.

Summary

I understand why they chose to cover everything – it’s right there in the subtitle, “The Essential Cookbook for Guys.” Man Made Meals is targeted at a guy who loves his grill, wants to learn how to cook in the kitchen…and will buy just one cookbook to be his guide. (That is, someone like my mom, with her lone, dog-eared copy of Joy of Cooking above the stove; not me, with my shelves and shelves of cookbooks.) This book is an obvious choice for that kind of guy. Steven makes sure to cover everything they will need.

It is also a no-brainer for someone like me, who loves all of Steven’s grilling cookbooks. It has the same style as his Bible books, full of globetrotting recipes, with sidebars of interviews and information to bring the recipes to life.

In other words, Man Made Meals is Highly Recommended.

FCC Notice: I received a free copy of Man Made Meals, and was not compensated in any other way for this post. The thoughts about the book are my own. If you buy a copy of the book (or anything else, really) through the Amazon links on my page, I get a small commission. Thank you.

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Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.

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