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The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating Paperback – March 30, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An audacious chef whose St. John restaurant in London draws legions of fans, Henderson is a staunch proponent of using virtually the entirety of any plant or animal being served up. Harking back to the days when very little went to waste, he practices what he preaches with such victuals as Rolled Pig's Spleen, Duck's Neck Terrine and Roast Woodcock, which is cooked with innards and head intact, the latter providing a bit of "delicious brains." Henderson recommends the use of a disposable Bic razor for depilating the primary ingredient in Crispy Pig Tails. And then there's Warm Pig's Head, which extreme chef Anthony Bourdain describes in his introduction as "so Goddamn amazing that it borders on religious epiphany." Here, too, are four recipes for lamb's brains, a commodity that Henderson admits is illegal in both the U.S. and England. Home chefs will encounter difficulties in obtaining other ingredients as well. Blood Cake and Fried Eggs calls for a quart of fresh pig's blood, and Soft Roes on Toast requires delicate white sacs of herring semen. Sprinkled among these challenging dishes, however, are more accessible fare: Kid and Fennel, Mussels Grilled on a Barbecue, and Radishes to Accompany Duck or Goose, wherein both the radish and its leaves are added to the bird's jus. Desserts include Treacle Tart and Carragheen Pudding made with red seaweed.
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'A fantastic book, wonderful stories with nostalgic and inspiring recipes -an essential book for honest cooks' Jamie Oliver 'His cooking and recipes are a joy' Nigel Slater 'A cult masterpiece' Anthony Bourdain 'Nose to Tail Eating is a book I've raided so many times as a chef. Every recipe is wonderful, and it's one of the most concisely humorous cookbooks that I've ever come across. Fergus has a sense of humour and an ability to self-edit that I'm as envious of as I am his cooking skills. And Jason Lowe is one of my favourite food photographers' Tom Norrington-Davies --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1St Edition edition (March 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060585366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060585365
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Fergus Henderson trained as an architect before becoming a chef, opening the French House Dining Room in 1992 and St. John in 1995, which has won numerous awards and accolades, including Best British and Best Overall London Restaurant at the 2001 Moët & Chandon Restaurant Awards. The Whole Beast won the 2000 Andre Simon Award.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

184 of 191 people found the following review helpful By J. V. Lewis VINE VOICE on May 28, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to start by saying that I can prepare only ten of the thirty-four recipes in the meat section of this cookbook without special ordering, and thirteen are virtually impossible due to unavailability of ingredients. Lamb tongues? Pig tails? Quarts of pig blood? Lamb hearts? Forget it. I live near a large butcher who can't or won't provide any of these items for any price I can pay. They go to the dogfood plants. This is a pity, as anyone lucky enough to have eaten the flavorful extremities and innards of young animals can attest. Our American supermarket meat counters have for years whittled down the selection in favor of the most flavorless cuts: fillet mignon and chicken breast have taken the shelf space once dedicated to the "set of delights, textural and flavorsome, which lie beyond the fillet", to quote author Fergus Henderson. As our cultural memory of the flavors of the parsimonious and creative farmhouse kitchen shrivels, our food is impoverished. Henderson writes a sharp critique of our culture of waste, but only as the byproduct of his central thesis: that there is a world of pleasure out there for those who set aside their suburban sqeamishness and eat the whole beast.

Among the few recipes I can follow without unconscionable substitutions are some real gems. Tripe and Onions, remarkably similar to French, Italian, Spanish, and even Mexican preparations, is delicious. Rabbit and Garlic is a powerfully aromatic feast. Beans and Bacon is a perfect rustic dish, a worthy simplification that could stand for cassoulet. Ox Tongue and Bread, really a carpaccio or hearty salad, is an excellent meal on its own, great with a simple and light red table wine.
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96 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Sally W Fallon on August 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Kudos to The Whole Beast by Fergus Henderson. This unusual cookbook is dedicated to recipes on organ meats. The delicious array includes warm pig's head, ox tongue, roast bone marrow, calf's heart, brawn (headcheese), jellied tripe, rolled pig's spleen, duck neck terrine, duck hearts on toast, many recipes for lamb's brain, sweet breads, blood cake (made with 1 quart of pig's blood), pig's cheek and tongue, gratin of tripe, haggis, deviled kidneys, lamb's kidneys and giblet stew. The one notable omission is steak and kidney pie.

The recipes are exotic (or so they seem to us-they were once standard fare for Britons) but also simple. Henderson's signature dish is Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad, which calls for marrowbone, parsley, shallots and capers, with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil-that's all. The ingredient list for Duck Hearts on Toast is minimal: duck hearts, chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, butter and toast.

Many pages are devoted to preserving meats, including an intriguing recipe for dried salted pig's liver. Others include brine-cured pork belly, corned ox tongue, cured beef or venison, pickled herring and a variety of animal parts preserved in rendered fat.

And the book contains other treasures: many recipes for game birds, rabbit, venison, crab, eel, mussels and salt cod; creative vegetable concoctions, wonderful soups and unusual salads.

Henderson understands the value of stocks, makes pastry crust with suet and uses real butter and cream.
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116 of 126 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 26, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fergus Henderson, the chef author of this book subtitled `nose to tail eating' is a cult hero among foodies and among heroes of foodies such as Tony Bourdain, who writes the introduction to this new edition and Mario Batali, a major advocate himself of using the whole animal.

For several reasons, this book is likely to have little to no value to the average person who cooks and who may refer to a cookbook now and then. The recipes commonly use ingredients that are simply unavailable outside better butcher shops and farmers' markets. The recipes also commonly use techniques that are the antithesis of fast cooking and low fat cooking. There are some recipes that literally require up to two weeks to complete.

The true audience for this book aside from culinary professionals are those who religiously watch Alton Brown's `Good Eats' , read John Thorne's books and newsletter as if they were gospels, and study books by Paul Bertolli, Eric Rippert, Judy Rodgers, and Jeremiah Tower for subtle new techniques to squeeze the last ounce of value from their primo materia.

Just to be sure it is clear to you what this book is all about, it's primary subject is preparing in a cuisine absolutely everything but the oink, as the saying goes, from a pig and other animals. To this end, the author presents us with recipes for pig's head, pigs jowls (Mario Batali's favorite guanciale), pig's ears, pig's tail, livers, hearts, tongues, and the most beloved stomach as used in preparing the old Scottish classic, haggis.

If this were the limit of the author's novelty, there would probably be little interest in the book among chefs.
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