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How to Cook Meat Hardcover – October 31, 2000
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Want to learn about meat? Really learn? Then How to Cook Meat is your book. In great and enjoyable detail it explores beef, veal, lamb, and pork--which cuts to buy, what cooking methods suit each, how to judge doneness, and much, much more. Authors Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, responsible for the bestselling Thrill of the Grill, also provide more than 200 explicit recipes that comprise a wide range of dishes, from prime-rib roasts to hearty stews, lamb-shoulder braises to grilled pork fillets--and they even cover innards and specialty cuts such as ham hocks. It's hard to imagine a meat lover who wouldn't benefit from this comprehensive yet approachable investigation.
Staring with illuminating notes on butchering and meat grading, the supermarket versus butcher meat-buying issue, and other related matters, the book then provides ample notes on cooking techniques. Recipes for the major meat types follow, organized usefully by cut size and tenderness; these treat the most melting cuts, which can stand quick cooking, to the tougher (though often more flavorful) ones that demand braising or stewing. Particularly attractive recipes include Sage-Rubbed Roasted Loin of Beef with Shallot-Bourbon Sauce; Veal, Sausage, and Fava Bean Stew with Lemony Greens; and Traditional Dry-Rubbed Saint Louis-Style Pork Spareribs. With additional recipes for the likes of hash browns and rice, beans, and vegetable sides, plus useful tips, nomenclature, and substitution notes, the book is a real addition to the kitchen library, though it won't remain shelved for long. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Here is a well-rounded and wonderfully thought out bible of beefsteak. Schlesinger and Willoughby (The Thrill of the Grill, License to Grill, etc.) begin with a single premise: that it is imperative to match the method of cooking to the cut of meat you have at hand. Dry heat, like grilling, is choice for the more tender cuts while moist heat, like stewing, is best for the tougher stuff. This holds true for beef, veal, lamb and pork, all of which are represented in their own in-depth sections. With this dictum, the authors go off on a fascinating tour of all things carnivorous. The lengthy and highly instructional introduction delves into such minutiae as how fat stimulates our salivary glands to produce the sensation of juiciness. Then come the more than 200 recipes. The beef chapters run the gamut from a joy-of-gnawing dish called Flintstone-Style BBQ Beef Ribs with Hot, Sweet, and Sour Bone Sauce to a Kuala Lumpur-inspired Gingered Beef Stew with Red Onion-Lime Sambal. And the lamb section includes not only the domesticated Double-Thick Lamb Rib Chops with Slicked-Up Store-Bought Mint Jelly Sauce but also North African-Style Braised Lamb Shanks. Nothing goes to waste since the authors employ a surprisingly large number of offal recipes. There are, of course, a basic sweetbread and calf brains, but these shy in comparison to Lamb Tongues on Toast and the virtually unmentionable Head Cheese Reuben. Most every recipe is accompanied by useful sidebars that detail the cut of meat to use, offer alternative cuts and even tell you how the dish holds up as a leftover. With humor, clarity and expertise, these two renowned food writers have created a requisite text for any serious meat lover. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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That said, this book is not encyclopedic in the sense that you will not find a receipe for every cut of meat there is. For example, I bought some boneless beef shanks once on a whim, figuring there'd probably be a recipe in there for something to make with them - but nope. (Although, I substituted them in a recipe for another cut with good results.)
Perhaps the biggest failing in my view though, is that often the recipes call for seasoning amounts that lead to crazy levels of spiciness. For people who love everything extra-spicy, that's fine, but for those who prefer more moderation or variety in their eating, it can be a little wearing, and I've personally taken to quartering some of their seasoning amounts to avoid making my poor pepper-sensitive husband melt with sweat as he eats. For example, if I recall correctly there was a pot roast recipe that called for something like 3 tablespoons of black pepper. Now, that is a whole heck of a lot of pepper for a dish that is basically supposed to be a little on the bland side by nature. And the hoisin-braised pork loin had so much ginger and pepper that it was basically inedible, and I actually ended up WASHING OFF the spicy juices before applying the hoisin sauce.
A couple of other quibbles are that in trying to make some of the recipes I've ended up with super fatty cuts from the butcher, and I never know if they were supposed to be that fatty or if I just accepted a bad cut - it'd be nice to have advice for when to ask to have the fat cut off, or how to trim off the fat myself. (Example, I ended up spending $60 on a veal shoulder roast (!!!), only to find it so fatty that my husband pooh-poohed it.) Also, although the authors offer an interesting sprinkling of offal recipes at the end of each chapter, I would have liked to see more of them, just because I'm a big offal fan. But I guess that's why we have Fergus Henderson, right?
To my pleasure I found the authors' top 5 tips for cooking meat and the recipes in the tender beef section. These would make the purchase of the book worth while. I did not spend much time with the other section and so express no opinion on them.
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