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The River Cottage Meat Book Paperback – September 18, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Fearnley-Whittingstall (The River Cottage Cookbook) runs a farm, on 60 acres of land in Dorset, England. His is a voice full of expertise and respect for nature. If it has walked on four legs, chances are the author has raised, slaughtered and/or eaten it. Thus, this densely constructed tome, first published in the U.K. in 2004, and now in a revised American edition, is worth most to those who know a good butcher. The sentiments are earnest, the mood a bit rainy and the recipes rustic. The first third of the book is dedicated to "Understanding Meat" and explores the different cuts of beef, lamb, pig and poultry. While the author abhors processed meats, he has nothing against offal and provides a comprehensive dissection of brains, lungs and stomach linings. The remaining pages are dedicated to the various ways of cooking meat, the copious rules to follow and hearty (at times primal) recipes that exemplify each technique. The fine section on roasting features a Loin of Lamb Stuffed with Apricots and Pine Nuts. For the brave slow cookers, there is Jugged Hare served in a sauce that contains bitter chocolate and the rabbit's blood. And the chapter on preserving covers not only bacon, but also Pigeon Pate and Preserved Goose Legs. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
'The best new book of the year without a shadow of a doubt, a serious treatise, a meat cookery bible and a supremely appetising recipe collection. Fearnley-Whittingstall is our most important and eloquent food writer today.' -- Philippa Davenport, Financial Times 'It should be bought by every meat-eating household, as well as every butcher and supermarket manager throughout the land' -- Martin Koerner, Waterstones Books Quarterly 'If you eat meat, you will buy, prepare and cook it better having read this book.' -- Jill Dupleix, The Times 'Thumpingly enormous, extremely good, and manages to be at once a recipe collection, a series of tutorials on the principles of cooking, a directory of organic suppliers, a philosophical essay, a timely report on the state of intensive farming and a forceful polemic' -- Sam Leith, Daily Telegraph 'I have been unable to put it down ... I urge all meat lovers to go and buy it. It is excellent' -- Mervyn Hancock, Western Daily Press 'Carefully researched, revelatory and powerful' -- Felicity Lawrence, Guardian 'A tome as heavy as a newborn piglet ... brave and deeply challenging stuff... a refreshing and triumphant antidote to dumbed-down recipe writing... positively incendiary' -- Joanna Blythman, Sunday Herald 'The solitary TV regular who can write a decent cookbook ... the enthusiastic carnivore will relish all 550 pages' -- Christopher Hirst, The Independent
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Top Customer Reviews
This is, without a doubt, among the most authoritative cookbooks I have encountered. It's less a collection of recipes than it is the "theory and philosophy of meat," except that description sounds dreadfully dull. And Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is never, never dull. His text is engaging and entertaining as well as educational. He teaches you how to _think_ about cooking meat successfully -- the steps and the scientific reasons behind them -- so that you can cook well without recipes.
Roasting, for example, is a three step process: the half hour sizzle at high heat, the cooking (at 325-350), and the time in which you let the meat rest. This is not a 3-page vague arm wave. It's 19 pages plus pictures, and not a word is pedantic.
The first section of the book -- 200 pages -- is called "Understanding Meat," and it begins with a remarkably thoughtful philosophical examination of the ethics of eating it. Fearnley-Whittingstall is a firm believer in treating animals well, and the health reasons we must do so; as a result, you'll be convinced to buy organic and farm-raised meat rather than mass produced stuff. If you aren't already. Anyway, he has chapters on beef and veal; lamb and mutton; pork and bacon; poultry; game; and offal. Each explains how to shop for the stuff, what the different cuts are, relevant instruction (how to joint a chicken or skin a rabbit -- the latter a necessity if your supplier is the local hunter), and so on. There's more than you'd find in most cookbooks: poultry isn't just chicken, but also turkey, duck, geese, guinea fowl, and quail.
Part Two is about cooking the meat, and chapters are devoted to each method: roasting, slow cooking, fast cooking (such as frying), barbecuing, preserving and processing (curing, sausages, etc.), and "meat thrift," which tells you how to make stock and soup and to use leftovers. Each of those chapters goes into wonderfully exhaustive detail... and then there are the recipes.
I'm sure the recipes are chosen largely to illuminate some part of his instruction, but heck, you could ignore all the rest and just pay attention to the recipes... and the photos, which make me think, "Heck yeah, we need to have a party, so I can serve this 'serves 20 or more' 'Aromatic shoulder of pork Donnie Brasco'!" (a whole shoulder of pork slow-cooked with garlic, five spice powder, chile, and soy sauce). I have my eye on his Oxtail-and-Tongue braise with rich red wine sauce. I'm screwing up my courage to try his deviled kidneys (if anything could convince me, this would be it). And when I'm ready to roast a full roast beef, these are the instructions I'll turn to.
Awesome book. I'm in love. You'll pry it out of my cold, dead hands.
I was engrossed in it from the start. His introduction about meat is amazing. By understanding the nature of meat, its production, slaughter, hanging and packaging, you can go a long way to understanding the nature of meat itself and how best to buy and raise it.
In fact, it is all about really basic details in preparation - from how to make hams to how to buy the best kidneys and why. Hugh seems to be on a mission to make popular old favourites such as tripe and liver - I don't knwo how much success he will have in that area, but his explanation on why it doesn't necessarily taste too good now is definitely indisputable.
I really enjoy his easy readable style, his disucssion on best raising techniques of pigs for instance was fascinating. He has practised what he writes about, he raises his own meat, slaughters it and then prepares it himself. It is a bit disconcerting having a dead pig head starting a chapter, but then Hugh talks about using all thebits of a beast in his chapter entitled 'thrifty'.
Fro those who don't want to raise and slaughter their own beasts, you will gain much from his other chapters - which meats make the best to fast cook (and why) and which are the best to slow cook. Both have why and how. There are chapters on slow cooking, cooking in wood fired ovens, and much more.
The recipes are delicious and the stories about them interesting reading and all provide depth of background to the recipes themselves. This is one book which will be remaining on my shelf for years to come, It is easy to use, interesting, and provides fundamental knowledge. It has my highest recommendation!
After several chapters devoted to each of the common and many of the not-so-common animals eaten by humans, the author begins his treatment of meat preparation. Each method is thoroughly explored, before we get his recipes, which run the gamut from Roast Belly of Pork with Applesauce to Spaghetti Bolognese, from Shepherd's Pie to Terrine of Sweetbreads with a Broad Bean Puree. We also get a chapter on "The Trimmings", for great side-dishes to serve with meat main courses.
For me the only drawbacks are that U.S. cooks need to convert measurements in some instances, and that I had to wait a couple of months for the book to arrive from Amazon.
This book is a must-read for meat eaters who appreciate thoughtful food writing and a straightforward, knowledgeable, unpretentious approach to a food that is a staple for many of us.