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Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork: A Guide to Buying, Storing, and Cooking the World's Favorite Meat Hardcover – October 26, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

With such past triumphs as Hot Links and Country Flavor, Real Beer and Good Eats and The Complete Meat Cookbook Bruce Aidells has established himself as a god-like carnivore among mere mortals. His taste buds know no bounds, his thirst for the next best recipe absolutely unquenchable. "I am a restless cook and adventurous eater," he says in the beginning of Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork, perhaps his greatest cookbook yet.

Maybe the dog has been hooked up with humankind longer than the pig, and has wandered into regions pigs knowingly eschew, like the Arctic. But pigs and people share a long, delicious history the dog can only sniff at, and longingly at that; an intimacy, if you will, unmatched in any other cross-species relationship. Aidells celebrates this connection. He gives the reader a brief history of the pig, then delivers definitive instructions on how to select great pork, and, in a general overview, how the flavor it and cook it to best advantage. He honors his subject and elevates his reader.

The recipes that follow have only one thing in common: Bruce Aidells loves them. They come from all corners of the world, from friends and from professionals, and from deep personal experience. They cover breakfasts treats, hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, and salads (Chopped Grilled Vegetable Salad with Grilled Pork Medallions); chops and steaks, scallops and cutlets (Smoked Pork Chops with Sour Cherry Sauce); kebabs and ribs (North African Marinated Pork kebabs on Couscous with Apricot Sauce); roasts, ham, pot roasts, stews, baked pastas, and casseroles (Grill-Roasted Pork Shoulder Cuban Style).

In each shift among the pork primals Aidells discusses the fitting master recipe, the umbrella technique beneath which truth and beauty unfold. He's a champion of flavor brining and his instructions eliminate any possible confusion. But he saves his soul for the last section, which is given over to some of the best material in print on preserving pork, the making of sausages, pâtés and terrines, bacon and salamis. It's at this point in the book that poignancy kicks in. This final word has the feeling of last word as well. --Schuyler Ingle

From Publishers Weekly

Thanks to decades of breeding for less fatty animals—as well as an effective ad campaign—pork has shed its unhealthy stigma. Unfortunately, much of today's leaner supermarket cuts are often dry and bland. Aidells, founder of the Aidells Sausage Company, comes to the rescue with well over 100 flavorful recipes. Including Thai Seafood and Pork Dumplings, Albóndigas Soup and Quebec Pork Pie, his selections reflect the pig's popularity around the world and highlight the meat's versatility as both an appetizer and main course. Unsurprisingly (given his background), Aidells includes both master recipes and several variations for hearty links and patties. He uses a similarly in-depth technique to convey the range of possible approaches to hams and barbecued ribs and roasts. Though the writing is sometimes awkward, the recipes are refined and well balanced. Advanced cooks will appreciate some of the more exotic concoctions and the section on curing meats, but there are accessible recipes for all levels, and the introductions offer plenty of background information on choosing cuts, learning how to brine and much more.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; First Edition, 2nd Printing edition (October 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060508957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060508951
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author's name is not only above the title, but part of the title of `Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork'. And, the book fully lives up to its title and subtitle, `A Guide to Buying, Storing, and Cooking the World's Favorite Meat'. The book includes absolutely every subject on pork I can think of, including several I did not even expect because I thought they may be too obscure for even a 320 page book on this single subject. Not only do the authors cover their territory; they do it very, very well.

As Aidells states early in the book, this work is for people who like to create their own recipes with pork. While pork may be the world's favorite meat, it may also be one of the most difficult, especially today in the United States, where so much fat has been bread out of our porkers that older James Beard and Joy of Cooking recipes for pork may simply not even work any more, in that there is not enough fat moisture in some cuts to support exposure to high heat for the time needed to get the inside of the meat up to the old standard temperature to insure that chance of trichinosis or botulism is removed. One of the greater ironies of meat cooking is that if you cook pork loin or pork tenderloin with wet heat over 160 degrees Fahrenheit for very long, you will end up with dry, stringy meat in spite of the cooking in water.

So, one of the first and most important parts of the book is how to select cuts of pork and match them to the appropriate cooking method. Regarding selecting meat, I must have been incredibly lucky or terribly inattentive, as I have never seen many of the pathologies against which Aidells warns us.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Darby on August 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book, with a few minor shortcomings.


* This is a solid book, written by an expert on the topic - a butcher and an acclaimed expert sausage maker. He knows his stuff, and he does a passable job of passing along some very useful information ... such as the real story about trichinoa and how to protect yourself without ruining the meat by overcooking, how to spot substandard pork that wasn't slaughtered properly and/or which is getting a bit old/off, how to grind meat without ruining it, etc. That's important stuff which most authors neglect to cover in reasonable depth, if at all.

* Good explanations, and well written head notes for all recipes.

* Tasty, well honed recipes, from around the world, and using good techniques and varied seasoings. I also like the fact that the author borrowed Julia Child's "Master Recipes" system, for covering with one swell foop many recipes at once that differ only in their seasoning/ingredient profile ... the technique is the same, so describe the technique, so that all the related recipes are just variations on a theme. It's the culinary equivalent of give a man a fish vs teach a man to fish.


* Once again, here is a book that's broken down by chapter, but within those individual chapters all recipes appear to be in random order ... and there's no recipe index to help you shop for, much less find in a hurry, a given recipe, even if you know what you're looking for. I mean come on ...
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jadepearl VINE VOICE on February 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bruce Aidell is one of my favorite cookbook writers. Every book he has written has been solid gold in its use and depth of knowledge. For people who are fans of his _complete meat cookbook_ this is the volume to have. the first book is a masterwork for those who need to not only cook meat but to understand its background and want to have substantive knowledge on every aspect of it.

Taking off and enhancing the information found in the pork section he goes truly in depth on the subject of pork. The section on brining today's industrial pork is well worth the price of the book. I am pleased to say that he does not repeat anything from his earlier book so you are definitely getting new material.

Aidell is renowned as one of the early members of the northern California cooking scene and is known to some as the chicken sausage king - yes, it is THAT Aidell who sparked the gourmet sausage movement so, trust the man on his meat.

Everyone can cook from this book since it does not use complicated cooking methods and the spices and ingredients are readily available through the supermarket or from a trusted butcher (uncommon cuts like shin or cheek) it is accessable to anyone.

Highest recommendations for the cooking library and for cooks who prepare a great meal.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By William K. Halliwell on June 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There is a lot to admire in Bruce's large tome on the preparation and cooking of pork; along with chicken, the world's most popular meats. I salute his dedication to detail and his philosophy on the 'flavour brining' of pork, which does work, IF YOU HAVE DECENT PORK TO BEGIN WITH. Something that is NOT Bruce's fault, however, is the world's seeming obsession, and pig producers' obsession with breeding animals without enough fat. Yes, animal fat, is a 'dirty word' in many, health-conscious minds these days but they, as Bruce knows, have got it all wrong. FAT = FLAVOUR. You don't have to EAT the pork fat, but at least, for heaven's sake, have it there during the cooking process. Here, in Australia, we used to breed big, fat, HEALTHY pigs with good coverings of fat. Now, the poor things are more like Twiggy than Miss Piggy! Bruce's book would be of far more benefit to the dining, cooking world, if pig producers stopped listening to the cardiologists and started to take notice of good chefs and cooks, like Bruce.
Let's face it, pork just doesn't taste like pork used to. And, there is that old hangover from the post-WW2 days when a lot of pork was diseased so it had to be cooked to death, thus drying it out and making it unpalatable, even rubbery. Pork meat is RED meat that has had the blood removed. It can now be safely treated like red meat, except for very rare.
Bruce's book is a great book but it shouldn't be necessary, and wouldn't be, if pig producers did the right thing and produced better, rare breed, fatty pigs. However, if you are a lover of good pork, no matter what your supply quality might be, this book will help you make the best of a poor situation. It's a little too detailed for my liking, as a cookbook, but it is an important and wide-ranging work. Good on you Bruce!
William Kenneth Halliwell
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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