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Review: Latin Grilling by Lourdes Castro

Lourdes Castro is on a mission.  The celebrated adjunct professor of food science at New York University,  founder of the Ars Magirica Cooking School in Miami, director of the Culinary Academy at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, along with many other accolades too numerous to mention here, has recently been seen on The Early Show with her brand new cookbook, Latin Grilling: Recipes to Share, from Patagonian Asado to Yucatecan Barbecue and More


In her book, she stresses that true Latin American cuisine is not just a one-size-fits-all plate of tacos and nachos.  In fact, many regional variations on a theme and utterly unique flavors are just waiting to be discovered… and savored!  And in writing this book, Lourdes seeks to expand our culinary repertoire, one grill at a time!  Considering this, we are fortunate that she has put together a collection of recipes that highlight her extensive knowledge of grilling and Latin American ingredients so we can recreate those exciting, authentic, and complex flavors at home.


The most compelling aspect of this cookbook comes from the desire of Lourdes to “feel as if I’m a guest at my own party.”  I’m all for that!  But actually doing it requires careful planning as well as having a good sense of timing.  So, each section of the book gives you a “game plan” to follow so that you can execute her menus like a pro!  Everything is laid out for you.  For example, things to do one day before, the night before, the morning of, 2-3 hours before, 1 hour before, and during your event.  This kind of information is invaluable to the home cook, but, unfortunately, is rarely seen in cookbooks today.


To get started, Lourdes has written a detailed Guide to Grilling which includes:

  • Recommended tools for grilling
  • Grilling with gas, wood and charcoal (*and specifically how to adjust a recipe that has been written for one type of method to another!)
  • How to use wood chips
  • What to expect from lump charcoal, briquettes, and natural charcoal
  • How to incorporate rubs, marinades and glazes
  • How to deal with flare ups
  • Internal temperatures for different meat doneness


She also gives us her Top 10 Grilling Tips.  Some of these are predicable like Use The Proper Tools and Preheat Your Grill.  But I didn’t expect Take A Walk, which is basically a nice way to get you to stop poking and prodding your food unnecessarily!


Next, the book is divided into regions:

  • Mexican Frontera
  • Yucatan Peninsula
  • Nicaragua
  • Cuba
  • Northern Andes
  • Peru
  • Patagonia
  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Brazil

Each of the regions above is introduced with a brief explanation of the type of cuisine you might expect to find there.


The recipes are clearly explained and easy to follow.  There are detailed instructions on how to prepare your grill for use, and it depends on the dish you are making!  The photography is wonderful and also helpful when presenting the final product to your guests.


Foodie Bonus:  Each recipe is accompanied by a small box labeled “Cooking Notes” that contains more information about specific ingredients, techniques, and advanced preparation methods.  These notes are incredibly useful and reminds me of the fact that Lourdes is also an accomplished teacher, as well as a chef.  Besides, I always wanted to know the 3 stages of a plantain! 


So while barbecue season is in full swing, I know I’ll be taking advantage of the impressive array of offerings from Lourdes’ Latin Grilling.  And now for that coffee-rubbed cowboy rib-eye…

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