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Meat: Everything You Need to Know Hardcover – September 2, 2014
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"A valuable reference that will give readers a greater appreciation for not only their favorite cuts of meat, but their butcher as well.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The Magician of Meat.” (New York magazine)
“Pat LaFrieda does everything right as a butcher. MEAT stands out to me as the best handbook there is on this subject.” (Mario Batali chef and entrepreneur)
“Pat LaFrieda has led the ‘butcher revolution’ in the United States. Every serious cook needs this instructional, well-illustrated, and very well written book.” (Martha Stewart founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia)
“It made me laugh, it made me smile, it made me miss my grandpa. I absolutely adore this book.” (Rachael Ray New York Times bestselling author)
“If you want to know about meat, this is the book. The recipes are great and each one has a story to tell.” (Andrew Carmellini chef and owner of The Dutch, Locanda Verde, and Lafayette)
“MEAT by master butcher Pat LaFrieda is officially the carnivores' holy grail and my new reference point for all things meat.” (Chef Michael White)
“The recipes and techniques in this book are things that can be used in any kitchen whether it’s at home or in the restaurant.” (Marc Forgione chef and owner of Restaurant Marc Forgione, American Cut, and Khe-Yo)
“A celebration of Pat’s enormous skill set, his encyclopedic understanding of meats and their various cuts and how to best use them. Butcher extraordinaire!" (Chef Alex Guarnaschelli Butter restaurant)
“Certain to make meat-lovers’ mouths water.” (Danny Meyer CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group)
About the Author
Pat LaFrieda’s first introduction to the meat world was in the summer of 1981, when he was just ten years old and learning the tricks of the trade at his father’s butchering business. Thirty years later, Pat, his father, and cousin own and operate New York City’s most prestigious and valued meatpacking facility. Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors supplies the finest restaurants in New York City, Philadelphia, DC, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, and more. They also operate four retail locations at Citi Field—home to the New York Mets—including two Pat LaFrieda Original Steak Sandwich stands, a LaFrieda Meatball Slider stand, and the sit-down restaurant, Pat LaFrieda Chop House. In 2014 they became the "Official Burger of the Mets." Pat has appeared on countless national TV shows including Today, The Chew, Rachael Ray Show, CNN, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, and Martha Stewart. More information can be found at www.lafrieda.com.
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First, I will start with the good, which comes almost entirely from people other than the author. The photography is excellent. The binding is as good as any other hard binding I've come across. And the editor prevented typos and misspellings, however, probably should have provided more heavy hand when it came to content.
As a reference, I am keeping in mind an excellent series of books on meat by Adam Danforth, who is someone who actually knows what he is talking about. I unhesitatingly recommend his books, and completely recommend against wasting your time even reading LeFrieda's self-congradulatory tome.
Let's cut right to the chase on pages 167-168 which being the chapter "All about beef." Beef is the king of meats in most peoples' minds, and the fact that LaFrieda thinks that he could cover ALL ABOUT BEEF in two pages that are mostly whitespace and tells you something. Specifically the paragraphs of "grass-fed vs. grain-finished beef." These deserve a line by line refutation, which is a challenge, and tiresome, because there is very little that is correct in them to start with.
LaFrieda: "In recent years there has been a lot of misconception about grass-fed versus grain-fed (also called grain finished) meat due to the information and misinformation in the media. The two most widely held misconceptions are that it is healthier for the animal to eat an all-grass diet, and that cattle fed on an all-grass diet have a lower carbon footprint than those fed grain. Both of these beliefs are wrong."
Gadfly responds: Actually, it is you who are wrong. Cattle are ruminants specifically adapted to eating grazed (as opposed to browsed off trees or taller plants) low growing forages like grass, clover, forbs, etc. It is therefore healthier for them consume the kind of herbage they are adapted to. Cattle are not adapted to grain-eating, like pigs and chickens are. In fact, the growth of fatty tissues in the musculature caused by heavy grain finishing is the formation of metabolic disease in the animal.
LaFrieda: "all beef cattle are raised on grass for the first 85% of their lives but grass-fed cattle eat the same diet until slaughter, at 120 to 160 days before slaughter, grain fed cattle are moved from grass to a diet of silage, which is a mixture of primary corn (both the plant and the kernel), alfalfa, wheat, and barley. The change in diet is done to fatten the animals, which increases marbling, which in turns results in tender, flavorful meat. "
Gadfly is confused at where to being with such a stream of ignorance, but plow ahead he must: Cattle drink their mothers milk for the first two months of their lives approximately, and ideally, they are gradually introduced to forages so by about 6 months, when the ileoacecal valve closes, and they are weened. Forages like grass and clover now are the proper diet for cattle until death. Silage is any FERMENTED plant grown to feed animals. It is most often made of whole corn plants. Silage is not usually used to fatten beef cattle either. It is usually used to be a primary feed for dairy cattle. Beef cattle are normally finished ON GRAIN, not SILAGE, and this is why they are called "grain finished" not "silage finished." Having already discussed the fact that "fattening" of cattle is basically inducing disease in the animal through inappropriate diet, the idea that fat and marbling are what make for tender and flavorful meat is evidently false: the tenderloin (fillet mingon) is the both the leanest and most tender cut of meat. It is not at all that flavorful, true, but there are many lean cuts which are, like the shoulder, very flavorful (usually proximity to bone is related to flavor, not fat content) but tough.
LaFrieda: "Finishing cattle with grain takes a significantly shorter period of time and thus, cattle fed an all-grain diet produce fewer greenhouse emissions than those that are strictly grass fed"
Gadfly: Finishing cattle with grain may take less time than with high quality forages (like perennial ryegrass) but this has almost nothing to do with carbon footprint. Cattle only make a little CO2, the most benign "greenhouse gas" through metabolic respiration. The forages they eat, however, are plants, which absorb that CO2 and convert it to oxygen. It is very likely that the plants actually consume more CO2 than is produced by the cattle. Furthermore, perennial forages like those found in pastures sequester a great deal of this carbon in their roots and residues which are stable in the soil. Also, very little petroleum power is needed to feed cattle forages compared to silage or grain, which are all planted, harvested, and processed by petroleum burning (and CO2 producing) heavy machines. It is true that the usually annual plants grown to make silage and grain also convert CO2 to oxygen, however, but this is outweighed by all the petroleum burning. The typical synthetic fertilizer applied to make annual crops like corn grow is made from natural gas. Most pastures only need occasional liming and the regular deposition of manure by grazing cattle to remain productive. So, no, LeFrieda, grain finished cattle do not have a lower carbon footprint, not by a long shot!
I think you get the idea. He goes on to disparage the quality of grass-fed beef, too: "very few chefs ever ask for grass-fed beef, and when they do it's a short run before they switch back to grain-finished beef. It tastes better..." This is just not so. Double blind internationally judged taste tests are regularly conducted to evaluate beef every year, and while grass fed doesn't always win, it usually does. Apparently New Yorkers are ignorant of this. Keep on eating your greasy, bland, and over-seasoned meat, I say, and leave us in the Midwest with the good stuff.
There are also monumental omissions in this book. He never goes over the difference of dry-aging beef vs. wet-aging beef. This is more important, flavor wise (because dry-aging concentrates flavor), than factors like grain vs. grass finishing. He never goes over how exsanguination and low-stress humane stunning improves the quality of the meat, etc.
My only other concern was seeing a few cuts of braised meat that were bright red. Braised meat isnt red unless you add curing salts. I can understand the author not including them in recipes to prevent people from using improper amount and getting sick. Just be warned if you braise a calf tongue according to the recipe in the book, Im sure it will taste great, just not the stunning red color you see in the book.
Really just splitting hairs about the meat color, like I said, very knowledgeable, just wanted more from the book.