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Lobel's Prime Cuts: The Best Meat and Poultry Recipes From America's Master Butchers Hardcover – September 2, 2004
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About the Author
Mary Goodbody is the original editor-in-chief of Cooks magazine, She is a Connecticut-based food writer and a contributing editor to Chocolatier and has collaborated on and co-written a number of cookbooks.
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This doesn't mean the book is not good. Emeril has put his name to some pretty good books that are really shameful advertisements for his restaurants and retail products. He has especially managed to corner the market on pretty good books for kids' cooking. So, does the Lobel's expertise in butchery translate to expertise in cookbook writing?
My overall impression is that this is an average cookbook with a decent collection of somewhat poorly written recipes and only a small amount of inside information on how to deal with good meat. The value of the book is just barely saved by a lower than average price which befits its primary role as a promotion for their retail business.
The few tips I learned from this book about handling meat are that:
- One should freeze or refrigerate meat in the packaging in which it was sold at the store.
- Duck is one meat which is best bought frozen. Almost all else should be bought fresh.
- Meat holds its freshness in the freezer a much shorter time in summer due to the high humidity.
- Don't try to catch a knife if it falls to the floor. Let it come to rest before picking it up.
- There are three levels of coarseness in sharpening stones. The middle level is the most commonly used.
This isn't much from a book by meat experts. It is amazing to discover that there is not a single diagram of primals from butchering beef, pork, or lamb. The book spends a fair amount of time with the care and sharpening of knives, without a single picture on how to sharpen knives. They would have done a whole lot better to simply recommend, as Alton Brown does, that you should not sharpen a knife yourself, but give the job to a professional. Dear Alton is mistaken when he says professionals do this. I know very well that professional chefs sharpen their own knives and the CIA even has a whole book dedicated to the subject, `The Professional Chef's Knife Kit' which I heartily recommend to anyone willing to develop knife sharpening skills.
My initial take on the recipes was that they were pretty good until I started encountering some with pretty serious omissions such as the recipe for the Cuban sandwich which neglects to tell the cook how and when to cut the pork loin before putting the slices on the bread. I also had serious reservations about their pork and sauerkraut recipe that used pork loin. This recipe is basically a braise, so meat on the bone with a fair amount of cartilage is better than the very lean loin. The book in general seems to lean heavily toward the more expensive cuts of meat. There is also virtually no notice of some of the more interesting methods for dealing with Porky. One recipe gives a technique for brining thick pork chops, yet the word brining doesn't even appear in the index. If you have a special interest in pork, definitely pass this book by and get yourself a copy of `Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork'. This excellent book gives you everything you may have expected in the Lobel's book. On the plus side, the few recipes for stocks at the end of the book are very simple with little chance of producing an excessively cloudy stock.
If you want a very good book on cooking meat, get the volume `How to Cook Meat' by cooking experts Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby. This work is not limited to grilling for which these authors are so justly famous.
Aside from some good comments on buying meat and selecting it for particular recipes, the Lobel's book practically nothing you might expect from a book by professional butchers. My three stars means that it is simply an average book which is saved from two stars by a less than average list price. I predict this volume will quickly find its way to the discount piles.