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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Recipes and Great Foodie Read. Buy It Now!
`Bones' by Australian chef and culinary writer, Jennifer McLagen, currently of Toronto, Canada is a major contribution to our understanding of so many things which are good about food, and which we have forgotten, or tend to ignore. There is a conventional wisdom, aphoristic expressions of which are sprinkled liberally about the margins of this work, which endorses the...
Published on July 27, 2006 by B. Marold

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I expected
I recently reviewed this same author's book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes and gave it a well-deserved 5 stars. I am afraid I cannot do that here. When my wife saw the book she said she thought it would be hard to fill a book this size with interesting stuff about bones. She was half-joking but after reading it I think she may have been...
Published on January 6, 2011 by C. J. Thompson


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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Recipes and Great Foodie Read. Buy It Now!, July 27, 2006
This review is from: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore (Hardcover)
`Bones' by Australian chef and culinary writer, Jennifer McLagen, currently of Toronto, Canada is a major contribution to our understanding of so many things which are good about food, and which we have forgotten, or tend to ignore. There is a conventional wisdom, aphoristic expressions of which are sprinkled liberally about the margins of this work, which endorses the value of bones and the meat which lies closest to same. And yet, my mother, in the name of modern culinary frugality, and in spite of growing up in a Pennsylvania Dutch household that should have known better, constantly harangues me on not buying meat with embedded bones. This leads to all sorts of cases where I'm entreated to give up the joys of a leg of lamb on the bone, not to mention lamb shanks or `osso buco'.

The pretext is that pound for pound, the boneless meat is a better value for the money. This monotone doctrine is probably wrong much of the time even if one did a careful pound of protein per dollar analysis of the two products, but that misses the point. This book is one long argument for the value added obtained from bones with our meat.

One thing I wish to stress is that one should not assume this book is a long essay or memoir in the style of Peter Kaminsky's `Pig Perfect'. The subtitle, `Recipes, History, & Lore' is a quite accurate statement of the distribution of content between recipes and `other stuff'. In fact, one can easily acquire this book as a general cookbook on how to cook animal protein, as it covers protein on the hoof, on the wing, and on (and in) the water. Virtually the only kind of protein it does not cover are those beasties such as the crustaceans and mollusks who wear their stiffening body parts on the outside.

Specifically, the author has chapters on:

Beef and Veal, including Bison

Pork

Lamb

Poultry, including game birds

Fish, round and flat

Game, primarily venison and related meat on the hoof

Boneologue, with bone derived desserts, if you can believe it.

The two primary values derived from bone are gelatin and marrow. The first is one of those great universal ingredients, almost as valuable as lard or sugar, in the cooking of France. In fact, if one were to look for those things that most distinguish French cuisine from all others, it would probably include the use of gelatin in both stocks, desserts, and aspics used to keep food fresh on the buffet table. In comparison, marrow is almost a footnote, roughly similar to bottarga as an esoteric ingredient.

With the importance of bony gelatin in stocks, it is no surprise that virtually every chapter but the last begins with a recipe for the appropriate stock. So, this book becomes also a great reference for making meat and fish stocks.

It is no surprise that in a book on animal bones, there will be diagrams of the skeletons of each type of animal. This may be one of my few complaints about the book, in that for their relative importance, they are relatively small and poorly annotated. I can get much more by looking up the butchering diagrams in my Larousse Gastronomique. Similarly, I thing much of the discussion would have been much more illuminating if pictures of the various types of cuts were on display. This would have been much more valuable than the artsy black and white pics of cleaned bones and color pics of dishes, which I rarely look at in a cookbook anyway. But let us not let this distract you from a truly rich and readable cookbook.

As all recipes deal with bony cuts, I am especially pleased that so many of the recipes are braises. There are so many that Ms. McLagan makes special mention of the technique she learned from Thomas Keller's `The French Laundry Cookbook' of laying a circle of parchment paper on top of the braising meat and liquid. As Sara Moulton found out when she learned this technique from Jacques Pepin, this is not a personal `trick' dreamt up by some modern chef, it is actually a well-established practice in the French restaurant kitchen.

This is just one example of the great care Ms. McLagan applies to her recipe writing. Every recipe has its little hints and suggestions and warnings to prevent an inadvertent drying out. She is especially good on the proper technique of using the instant read or permenantly installed thermometer. This point alone makes the book important for amateur cooks.

The selection of recipes is just the right mix of familiar and unusual dishes. If you happen to own a substantial library of cookbooks, there is more than enough here to interest you. The recipes for game and the notes on cooking Bison and Beefalo alone are worth the price of admission.

For an average cookbook price, you get lots of great recipes for animal protein plus lots of entertaining wit and wisdom on making the most of the bones before the dog gets a hold of them.
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79 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a real cookbook for real eaters, November 23, 2005
This review is from: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore (Hardcover)
With so many overnight cooking sensations (people who don't actually know anything about food) and so many quick and breezy non-recipes floating around of the toss-spaghetti-with-olive oil-and-pepper variety, it is a relief for serious eaters like me and for people interested in real cooking to come across a proper cookbook like Bones.

BONES is clever idea (McLagan deserves points just for coming up with it), well-researched, timely (I'd almost say urgent) and very beautiful to look at. Above all, this book is an inspiration for better eating by someone who really knows her food.

I've made Jennifer McLagan's recipes from magazine articles before and my experience is that they are always imaginative (without being wildly exotic) and they always work. Every recipe I have tried has been beautiful and delicious. Recommended.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful & Just a little Unusual, June 15, 2007
By 
Rabid Reader (Near Niagara Falls, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore (Hardcover)
This will indeed sound strange: I am preferentially a vegetarian (which means that I love and prefer vegetables and such, but will also occasionally eat meat, but only if it's wonderful and worth it). "Worth it" does not begin to describe some of this food! I am also an experienced cook and a total foodie who owns several hundred well-used cookbooks, and I just loved this book. I received it as a gift and happily sat up half Christmas night just reading it and drooling. Marvelous information! Marvelous recipes! Excellent writing! If you've never experimented with cooking with bones--you must try. It's classic cuisine but somewhat unusual now in home kitchens. (How many people do you know who would recognize, let alone own a marrow spoon?) I loved this book SO much that I have now myself given it as a gift to the two best cooks I know--and I didn't wait for their birthdays or Xmas to roll around, either!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I expected, January 6, 2011
By 
C. J. Thompson "Arctic John" (Pond Inlet, Nunavut Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore (Hardcover)
I recently reviewed this same author's book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes and gave it a well-deserved 5 stars. I am afraid I cannot do that here. When my wife saw the book she said she thought it would be hard to fill a book this size with interesting stuff about bones. She was half-joking but after reading it I think she may have been correct. There was some fairly decent stuff on making stock from bones but nothing I haven't seen elsewhere. Most of the other recipes were not very special; there was a recipe for Chicken with Riesling, for example, that was nice enough, but the only relevance it had to the book topic was that it used drumsticks (ie: the meat was still on the bone. Indeed, that pretty much seemed to be the rationale for including the vast bulk of the recipes in this book. As a final criticism, although the dearth of pictures in 'Fat' did not diminish the value of the book in my mind, here it did. Pictures are always helpful in cookery books but in this case some pictures illustrating the carving and jointing techniques described would REALLY have been helpful.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Bones About It, December 3, 2005
This review is from: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore (Hardcover)
From the first receipe I tried I was won over.

Beefsteak Fiorentina is the fastest way that you can satisfy the need for meat that I've tried so far.

The simplicity of the writing is such that one easily understands what they need to do to achieve success. But there is enough detail and history that those of us with a need for information will be satisfied and digging for more.

The illustrations and photographs complete the straightforward design of the book, which will make it a neccessary addition to any meat lovers library.

It's a purchase that you won't regret.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A carnivore's sophisticated resevoir of recipes and culinary history., September 3, 2009
This review is from: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore (Hardcover)
You wouldn't think that cooking with bones would be sophisticated. As a self described journeyman cook who is still trying new recipes that don't call for the inclusion of Cream of Mushroom Soup, the recipes in this book present a challenge to me. Am I a little intimidated? You betcha. But in a good way. Recipes such as Oxtail Consomme with Sherry and Osso Buco with Fennel and Blood Orange Sauce can do that to a budding cook like me.

I think we tend to extract bones from our kitchens because they remind us only too well that we're preparing and eating a dead animal. Those neatly wrapped packages we get at the grocery store or butcher don't confront us with the reality of the carnage that we're consuming. Our fore-mothers would laugh at us and would never recognize most of what the grocery store stocks these days. I decided there was something wrong with the way I looked at meat and bought Bones because I wanted to get back to basics and tradition. I wanted to find ways to infuse my meals with flavor and complexity without breaking the bank or using a plethora of exotic ingredients.

The layout of this book makes sense and is easy to navigate. However, I really wish that the editors has chosen to invest in more color photography. There are a few pictures here and there, but with a sophisticated topic such as this, I believe that they missed an opportunity to really showcase bones actually in use as ingredients. The book feels as if it were published on the cheap which is really too bad given the audience it actually targets. The paper itself is too pulpy & porous and retains moisture only too easily in the kitchen environment.

Covering all the varieties and classes of meats, Bones delivers an education as well as a culinary challenge. The stock recipes alone are worth their weight in gold. There is even a small section at the back that discusses the use of marrow in desserts and even a few recipes such as Marrow Pudding and Bone Cookies. There is much to be learned between the covers of this book and I highly recommend it to cooks of all abilities.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bare bones revealed!, March 12, 2006
This review is from: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore (Hardcover)
Jennifer McLagan's BONES: RECIPES, HISTORY, & LORE (0060585374, $34.95) covers all the basics about bones and their important role in flavoring. People may opt for boneless chicken, fish and cutlets - but anything cooked with bone in has more flavor, and BONES provides receipts for cooking everything with bones. Each chapters includes stocks, soups, ribs, legs and more; but most of the dishes are easy enough for the most basic home cook to duplicate. Traditional dishes move to innovative and international influences in each chapter, and while color photos do pepper the presentation, the meat of BONES lies in its recipes that celebrate and bring out the best in bone flavorings.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I was surprised that the author somewhat consistently (did not at least once but did on several other times) recommended sitting, August 23, 2014
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This review is from: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore (Hardcover)
This is a tough book to review with just one category of stars. The general subject matter and topic is an outstanding and timely choice and should get a five. The American culture generally has been throwing out some of the tastiest and nutritious parts of our food! Hunter/gatherers relished bones for their taste and nutrition and even used them for healing. The book should have gone into this subject matter even more as it is an important part of this food that is only being appreciated in the wider culture again to a very small extent now. Thus, there is a big hole in the subject matter that is not adequately addressed. The author treats bones as if they added only flavor to foods but this is only a small part of their value. The knowledge of our ancestors, long ago and much more recent, should have been recorded here, as it is on point and very important, at risk of being lost, and thus the book in this respect should get no stars. The book may be outdated already because it shows a lack of appreciation and history for many of these important aspects of bones.

The recipes I tried, including everything to do with marrow, the Four Bones In A Pot, and several others, were outstanding and well written. I was surprised that the author somewhat consistently (did not at least once but did on several other times) recommended sitting marrow bones in salt water for 12-24 hours to remove blood. I have not heard of that before but am now doing it. The food resulting from the recipes is generally very savory. Five stars for this.

However, it is a mistake that the author repeatedly uses vegetable oil in the recipes! Not a good or healthy choice for many reasons. And many of the healthy, useful and delicious fats that result in the cooking are thrown away in the recipes! Again, outdated? Certainly unappreciative of what the animal has to offer us health wise. No stars are deserved in this respect.

So I give a mixed review. But don't get me wrong. In my opinion the book is absolutely worth purchasing by anyone who wants to cook meats and bones well as long as they understand the books' limitations. Don't use the vegetable oil and don't throw away the healthy fats! I hope the author updates the book with more complete thinking and history on this wonderful food that can sustain and heal us as it did our ancestors.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just a cookbook, January 12, 2011
By 
SCD Mom (Zionsville, IN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore (Hardcover)
Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore

I received both of the books Fat and Bones for Christmas. I read Fat first and it was outstanding! So I think my low number of stars (2) may be because Bones is nowhere near as informative as Fat. We "learn" that the reason to include bones is to increase flavor. And then there are a number of interesting recipes for meat on-the-bone and for stock. The margins are filled with bone-lore, similar to the fat-lore that was included in Fat. But there was a lack of health information about bones, and there was little about actually consuming bones. Since I know of people who make bone pate (from organic, grassfed animals), this was a notable omission. Had I known it was basically a cookbook, I would not have requested it as a Christmas gift.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was looking for, March 11, 2011
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This review is from: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore (Hardcover)
This book is simply a cute little cook-book. It's weak on the diversity of edible-preparations. Sure, there are a few play-offs of different ethinic variations. Not very heavy on the history or lore either. With that said, the recipes included and the pictures are mouth-watering. If you have money and like cook-books, consider the purchase. If money isn't as readily available as it once was, you could definitely get by without the book.
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Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore
Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore by Jennifer McLagan (Hardcover - October 25, 2005)
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