There's a lot more going on in Bones
than the glorification of beef marrow. True, you will want to serve roasted marrow bones after even a casual reading. Jennifer McLagan, chef, food stylist, food writer, and now cookbook author says this is where it all began for her, this journey that has become a singular determination to rehabilitate bones in the family kitchen: "Scooping out the soft, warm marrow and spreading it on crisp toast is a sensual delight. A touch of salt, and all is right with the world."
Bones is about meat on the bone, plain and simple. Beef or veal, lamb, game, poultry, fish--it matters not. If the meat is on the bone as it enters the cooking process, be that roasting, braising, steaming, baking, or grilling, it has every chance of being far superior to meat divorced of the skeleton. Think how boring skinless, boneless chicken breasts can be. But McLagan's underlying theme is about taking time to treat a product like meat with the respect it deserves. If you demand that it morphs into some sort of time-and-labor-saving protein package you end up with chicken fingers, not food. If it is about anything, Bones is about good food, and good food takes time. And time is the most precious ingredient any cook can add to the broth. The time it takes isn't a burden, it's where the cook truly learns and grows and matures.
McLagan divides Bones into sections devoted to Beef and Veal, Pork, Lamb, Poultry, Fish, and Game. Each section begins with a precise description of the basic animal from the skeleton on out before moving on to stocks, concentrated stocks, and consommés. As for recipe enticements you'll find Beer-Glazed Beef Ribs, Osso Buco with Fennel and Blood Orange Sauce, Spicy Korean Pork Soup, Roast Leg of Pork with Crackling, Olive-Crusted Lamb Racks, Lamb Shanks in Pomegranate Sauce, Poached Chicken with Seasonal Vegetables, Grilled Quail with Sage Butter, Coconut Curry Chicken, Sardines on Toast, Cantonese-style Steamed Fish, and Herb-Roasted Rabbit (one of four rabbit recipes!).
While the novice cook should not shy away from Bones, a firm foundation in basic western cooking technique is a plus. There's a lot of learning available between these two covers. Some of it is about meat and bones, some about cooking and serving, and some is about an attitude to bring to the kitchen: If you take a little time the rewards will be far superior to any shortcuts along the way. All of which makes Jennifer McLagan something of a revolutionary in our midst. --Schuyler Ingle
From Publishers Weekly
In this expansive tome, food stylist and writer McLagan offers an alternative to the rubbery chicken breasts and fish filets now standard in Western cookery. By eliminating bones (and fat) from our diet, McLagan passionately argues, we've traded flavor for health and efficiency. Indeed, her book operates on the premise that the pleasure of gnawing on a lamb chop cannot be underestimated. More than a cookbook, this is a compendium of folklore, literary quotes and historical facts that refer to bones' significance across cultures from ancient times to today. There are chapters on beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish and game, each with an introductory section explaining anatomy and recommended cooking temperatures. Sidebars offer suggestions for carving, using unlikely parts, and recovering endangered bone-cooking arts like "spatchcocking," or removing the wishbone from a bird. McLagan's recipes range from arcane (Lancashire Hot Pot, which traditionally consists of a deep dish of stew covered with a potato crust, and long lamb bones piercing through the topping) to contemporary continental (Osso Bucco with Fennel and Blood Orange Sauce). While some recipes are time-consuming, McLagan's instructions are generally clear and precise. With its emphasis on tradition and technique, this work won't appeal to the 20-minute chef, but it will be a welcome addition to the slow-food aficionado's library. Photos. (Nov.)
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