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Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat Hardcover – September 1, 2010
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About the Author
Deborah Krasner is a writer and food professional living in Vermont. She hosts culinary vacations in Italy and Vermont, which have been featured in GQ, Bon Appétit, and the Boston Globe. Krasner won a James Beard Award in 2003 for her cookbook The Flavors of Olive Oil. She appears regularly on NPR’s The Splendid Table and contributes to Bon Appétit and Real Simple, among other publications.
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As someone who knew very little about cooking until 10 years ago, I tend to depend a lot on cookbooks (truth be told, I'm a "cookbook junkie") for guidance and instruction. That's why I am so thrilled about a new cookbook designed specifically for sustainably raised meats. This is not just a 400 page cook book with over 200 recipes (weighing in at 5 pounds)! It's a complete educational resource. My favorite part is the section on "Cow Anatomy" where she breaks down where each cut of meat comes from and how to communicate a cutting order to the butcher. When I first started buying meat directly from the farmer, nothing was more intimidating than getting that call to say "Your beef is ready, time to get your cutting order to the butcher!" Yikes! I had no clue what was I doing.
Krasner's cookbook not only does this for beef, but offers the same great information on lamb, pork, rabbit and poultry! If you're like I was and the only thing stopping you from buying a whole side of beef, pork or lamb is not understanding how to find it and order it, this is for you. The book is packed with beautiful full-color photographs, thorough explanations of cooking techniques and, for those of you blessed with a little acreage, she even discusses the economics of raising meat in your own backyard.
"What is it?" I asked, holding the sparsely typed page gingerly, noting where we were to indicate our preference for steaks or roasts or ground beef.
"The farmer says it's a cut sheet." she shrugged, "I guess we fill it out." She pulled down the old Joy of Cooking from above the fridge, saying, "This book has some diagrams in it, maybe it will help."
We struggled with the cut sheet for a few hours before coming to any decisions. We also bought a second-hand freezer as well, because we thought it might be a good idea to have some extra room for all of that beef. It was a very good idea. We didn't know what we were doing, but after tasting the quality of the grass-fed meat, we were hooked.
Ten years of buying sides and shares of beef and lamb, CSA shares of pork and whole chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks have passed since then. I'm married now, with a growing family to feed, a second freezer and yet I still struggle with filling out a cut sheet.
Thrilled I am, indeed, to find Deborah Krasner's recent book, "Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat". In this book, what was perennially intimidating has been laid out for me, in one book, clearly and with lots of diagrams - just the way I like it.
Ms. Krasner has organized her book into sections dealing with each animal, how to source them, what cuts come from which primal, how to ask for what you want, and how to cook the cuts you get to the best advantage. Diagrams, color photos and clear instructions lead each chapter, even before the recipes begin.
The recipes I tried were delicious. My husband said of the Sirloin Steak with Red Wine, "This tastes like something you'd get in a restaurant!" What home cook doesn't secretly want to hear that! For lamb, I loved the Merguez Sausages, saving half the recipe for the freezer to put into a cassoulet later. Black Bean Soup with Smoked Hocks and Sherry introduced me to this wonderful cut. As a result, I'll always have some on hand in my freezer.
From the Poultry section, our favorite has become the Roasted Cardamom, Oregano and Garlic Chicken Thighs. So aromatic, I think there is nothing more lovely than the smell of this chicken floating through the house.
For those who do not eat meat, Ms. Krasner has also included a large section on eggs and other side dishes, among which the Vermont Cheddar Souffle and the Clementine, Fennel and Olive Salad are standouts.
Even beyond the increasingly important issues of grass-fed vs. commercial meat: nutritional, environmental, good animal-husbandry, etc., the book reminds those among us who eat meat to look with honesty and clarity at where our meat comes from. She gives us the tools to access this world without too much stress. I know this for sure, thanks to "Good Meat", I'll never be anxious about filling out a cut sheet again.