The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat: How to Buy, Cut, and Cook Great Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry, and More is by Joshua and Jessica Applestone (owners of Fleisher's Grass-Fed & Organic Meats) and Alexandra Zissu. Since doggedly making their sustainable butcher's shop work against all odds, the Applestones have helped teach others to make it work for themselves as well. And whether you're looking to get into the butchering business or simply want to know how to prepare, cook, choose, and eat good meat at home, this book does a fantastic job of providing truly useful (and delicious!) information.
Although the information on sourcing well-raised animals might be important primarily to the butchers themselves, I learned an awful lot as a consumer. Hands-on information makes it much easier to understand why it can be important to buy good-quality meats. I really like knowing the practical, factual information on how the various practices of animal raising affect both the quality of the meat and the quality of life for the animal. All of that is included in here, in very concrete terms. Some of the information provided can make it easier for you to recognize good quality meats at the store or butcher's shop, and the Applestones are happy to tell you what questions to ask your butcher as well. There's even an explanation of various terms you'll find on labels, and what they mean--or DON'T mean.
Each type of meat gets its own section--beef, lamb, pork, poultry. In each you'll learn about the issues particular to that animal, the various cuts of meat on an animal and where they're located (and how they can vary from butcher to butcher), why sustainability means that you should learn which cuts will do the same job as more trendy ones and consider buying those instead, recommended cooking methods for pretty much every part of the animal you can imagine (including offal), suggestions for things you might practice if you want to try your hand at butchering, and of course recipes. The authors convinced me to give pork another try, and I'm glad I did--I discovered that while I still prefer beef, well-raised and properly cooked pork has a noticeably better flavor than your average grocery store meat.
There's also plenty of information on their own background, "the art of butchery", and a number of techniques and tools (accompanied by drawings and a few photos, not to mention step-by-step instructions for storing, wrapping, brining, etc.). The text is written from Joshua's perspective, and his personality comes through clearly. This makes the text fun and interesting without detracting from its usefulness.
As always when I review a book with recipes in it, I made several of them. And oh, my. The flavors in here are delightful. The spice mix for the lamb meatballs looked like it would be too heavy on smoked paprika, yet the balance was perfect for the meat. The spice paste for a butterflied lamb leg made the meat taste divine: plenty of flavor, without covering up the natural goodness of the flesh. Without fail, the cooking methods and flavors in here delivered succulent, perfect food every time.
[NOTE: review book provided by publisher]
on June 7, 2011
I am lucky enough to be able to shop at Josh and Jessica's shop, and after reading this important book I realise that I am privleged. If you care at all about the food you eat and where it comes from this is a must read. Informative, funny and most importantly, honest. We should all care as much about the inside of our body as we do the outside. This will be a classic.
on May 18, 2015
May be a bit too much for casual cooks, but for a fairly serious home chef, this is a fabulous reference. There's some ego and some definite opinionated thoughts in this narrative, but the author knows what he's doing, without question, so none of that is unwarranted. If, like we do, you like or want to buy meat in bulk, and butcher, process, and store your own bulk proteins, this is an invaluable reference source. It's no nonsense, reasonably in depth, clear and concise information, sensibly laid out.
on August 4, 2011
I am approaching this subject with a bit of a bias because I have been to a pig to pork demo put on by Fleishers so I am not exactly an out of the blue book buyer. I am a chef and have a farm to table place in CT.
This book is packed with useful information for anyone, and the straight forward no nonsense approach is quite welcome. Its funny too. So what does this book have that others dont? First of all, the information is collected by people doing what they write about right now. As in today. The maze of terms that most people are exposed to when buying meat, in my opinion, are designed to either mislead or misrepresent. No not all of them but many. Hormone free chicken is a perfect example. So Josh goes through the "all naturals" "cage frees" and places the reality squarely on the table next to them. Ah...now I see. The more I learn the better my decisions become. Okay the butchering pictures. How many of these books have I seen with lame representations, skipped steps, or just plain photos that dont look like anything familiar. Lots. Page through the breakdown of the beef and you will be convinced you can do the job. They are that good, but dont be fooled. Its much harder than it looks, but it does inspire confidence to learn more about what was a seemingly impossible task partly because of lack of information. Its not just beef. The book covers poultry (The chicken chapter was most enlightening), lamb, pork, etc. So you have the pictures, the terms, the anecdotes, recipes, and first hand experience about the meat industry as it is NOW. Josh and Jess are both very nice people in a difficult business. People are really misinformed about meat, and they face the whole thing head on in this book with no apologies given. I am in the business, my brother is a farmer that raises beef, chicken, and hogs, and when someone in our dining room asks if the beef is grass fed or they complain because I only have 2 pork tenderloins for the week, or why my pork is not organic, I wish I had the 20 minutes it takes to explain. I am thinking about having this book chained to each table (a small chain)as it should be required reading for anyone that enjoys......Well raised meat.
on May 4, 2014
this is the first book I am reading about butchery and meat, and really glad I dld. if you want to know better what you are eating, how to pick better meat, how to cook, how to stock, and use of different fats, this book is a definitely must read.