“French Grill: 125 Refined & Rustic Recipes,” by Susan Hermann Loomis. The Countryman Press, $29.95

The long days and the warm temperatures have heralded the coming of a new season.

It’s summer, yes, but it’s also the season of my grill.

I live in a little apartment in an old New England house, where air conditioning is a fantasy, and the kitchen is the size of a postage stamp. Turning on the oven also means turning our place into a sauna. Starting in July, I find every excuse to let the stovetop gather dust until October. I’ll put anything – meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, pizza, you name it – on the grill, and I am always looking for new ideas.

So I was interested to open “French Grill: 125 Refined & Rustic Recipes” by Susan Hermann Loomis. I think of French food as the stuff of those colder months, when I want a slow-cooked cassoulet or a rich sauce. But Hermann Loomis reminded me of my high school French lessons with the origin of the word “barbecue.” The Gauls would split the spoils of their hunts from “la barbe à la queue,” which literally means “from the beard to the tail,” for roasting, she writes.

I quickly realized I had more to learn from Hermann Loomis, though. My technique is really just to toss my ingredients on the grill racks and hope for the best. In her (outdoor) kitchen, Hermann Loomis is more fastidious. “You can have the finest equipment, the most expensive wood or charcoal, the best grilling outfits, but then you can muff it up if you don’t pay attention,” she writes. “I’ll say right now that the French grill simply.”


And most of the recipes in Hermann Loomis’ book are simple. Each one is marked with a difficulty level. Recipes classified as “moderate” seemed to involve extra ingredients or steps, like the “Grilled, Stuffed Turkey, Not Like Thanksgiving”). There were also several that required a rotisserie, which I do not own. I found only one rated “challenging” – the “éclade,” or mussels cooked on a nest of pine needles over hot coals. The majority appeared approachable on either a gas or charcoal grill; Herman Loomis prefers charcoal, but tested all the recipes on both. Every page has clear instruction on grill time, which will be a welcome addition to my current system of poking and squinting at my dinner.

The recipe for lamb chops with garlic and parsley sauce caught my eye because of the description on the top of the page.

“This is the meal you make when you get home late from work,” Hermann Loomis wrote.

I was, in fact, getting home late for work. I grabbed some lamb chops on my way, and true to the book’s promise, they were cooked within 15 minutes of heating up the gas grill. The sauce was fresh and flavorful, although I did lose some of it in the bowels of my grill when flipping the chops at the end of the recipe. We ate them with a simple salad of greens, and I felt encouraged that even a French recipe could be prepared with ease on a weeknight.

In fact, I was most surprised to find so many quick recipes in the book – a hefty hardback with 281 pages, some with pictures of hunks of meat or vegetables with perfect grill lines. Many had prep and cook times under an hour, perfect for a warm evening. Not all were in my weeknight dinner budget; we don’t cook duck breasts or rabbit on an average Wednesday. But the book covered such a wide range of meat, vegetables and fruit that I could skip the recipes that call for high-dollar ingredients and still use it regularly.

And while I will certainly get use out of this cookbook this summer, Hermann Loomis also seemed to recognize hardy New Englanders actually grill all year round. She used her recipe for “Drunken Lobster” as a plug to remain vigilant, because grilling is subject to variables that might not have factored into her own recipe testing.


“But what if you’re in Maine, it’s below zero, and your wet tea towel freezes solid when you walk out to the porch to check the grill?” she writes. “Well, the size of fire and cooking time I give you in this book isn’t necessarily going to mean much in that situation. You’ll have to figure it out.”

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:


Twitter: megan_e_doyle


Special equipment: Long tongs


Preparation and grilling time: 15 minutes

Difficulty level: Simple

Serves 6

12 small (about 3-ounce; 90g) or 6 large (about 5-ounce; 150g) lamb chops, at room temperature

Fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


1/3 cup Garlic and Parsley Sauce


9 cloves garlic

3 cups (30 g) flat-leaf parsley leaves

2/3 cup (150 ml) olive oil

Fine sea salt


Freshly ground black pepper

To make the sauce, dice the garlic cloves, then combine them with the parsley and mince them together. Place the garlic and parsley in a small bowl and whisk in the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the lamb chops, build a medium-size fire in the barbecue, or light the gas grill using all three burners. When the coals are red and dusted with ash, spread them in a tight, single layer, leaving a perimeter of grill with no coals under it; they need to emit concentrated heat. Set the grill over the coals.

When the grill is hot, sprinkle the chops evenly with salt and place them on the grill. Cover and cook until they are dark golden, about 4 minutes. Flip the chops, season them with salt and pepper, and spread equal amounts of garlic and parsley sauce on each chop, pressing it firmly into the chop. Cook for an additional 4 minutes. This will result in chops that are medium-rare; if you prefer your chops cooked longer, then leave them on the grill for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Right before the chops are cooked, flip them quickly onto the garlic and parsley sauce side, just so the sauce gets very hot, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Transfer the chops to a platter, season them lightly with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

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