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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
The Art of Charcuterie
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on December 10, 2010
This book attempts to position itself as a reference for both the home cook and the professional, and unfortunately fails to serve either market. At first glance, the book appears to be a slick, well-designed volume typical of the CIA's other books. Upon closer inspection, however, it appears that the polish is only skin deep. In fact, it appears that a large portion of the material is purely filler, serving no real purpose and providing no useful information. The book goes so far as to include seven pages of content attempting to describe the flavors of various herbs and spices. I can't imagine that anyone in this book's target audience needs a paragraph describing the flavor of basil, nor are any of the passages specific to charcuterie: it appears to be a copy-and-paste job from some other reference. There are numerous tables in the book that serve no purpose: an "herb and spice chart," a sugar temperature chart for making candies, page after page of metric-to-imperial conversion charts (all recipes in the book are given in both, as usual for the CIA series), etc. It has all the appearance of material added to boost the page count.

The book contains a large amount of food safety information, some useful and some not. The extensive listing and description of the various possible bacterial infections is interesting in an academic sense, but contains little practical information other than "prevent cross-contamination," "cook everything to death," and "chill quickly." It spends pages on trichnosis, although it is now exceedingly rare in the US and easily mitigated against. And there, at the very end, is a single paragraph on "harmful molds in sausages," an area crucial to understanding the production of dry-cured items. It contains no actual useful information, simply instructing you to use a mold inhibitor to prevent its growth. The remainder of the chapter is a copy-and-paste job from every other Food Production Safety 101 textbook on the planet. I would hope that at a culinary school a course like that would be a prerequisite for entry into a charcuterie class: no need for it here.

The chapter on forcemeats is large and well-illustrated, but covers exactly the same material as Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen (Culinary Institute of America) (the CIA seems to have a real fascination with terrines... 50 pages worth seems excessive to me when that material is almost completely duplicated from another book in the series). The chapter on sausages (70 pages) contains some useful checklists for sausage production, and a nice discussion of the various types of casing. The recipes included are uninspiring, however, and there is virtually no coverage of dry- and semi-dry sausages: a few recipes and a few cursory comments, but no useful, practical advice, despite their prominent placement on the cover. If you are interested in dry-cured sausage this book provides virtually no useful information. They finish up with a quite extensive chapter on condiments, which seems to be a standard in charcuterie books.

If you are new to charcuterie (either as a professional or a home cook) I strongly recommend purchasing Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing: it provides and excellent foundation, and while not as "slick" as the present volume, is far more readable, and properly emphasizes things like temperature control when mixing, and a realistic view of food safety and cooking temperatures. If your interest is in terrines, I'd then add the CIA's Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen (Culinary Institute of America) (which I should note also contains quite a bit of charcuterie information which overlaps with Art of Charcuterie). If your interest is in dry-curing, I recommend Marianski's The Art of Making Fermented Sausages---it is not very well written, but it contains a goldmine of information in excellent detail: exactly what Art of Charcuterie is missing. Finally, there are a number of books that include more interesting recipe ideas than either this volume or Ruhlman and Polcyn's book (which focuses on classics): Polish Sausages, Authentic Recipes And Instructions,Bruce Aidells's Complete Sausage Book : Recipes from America's Premium Sausage Maker, and Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing.

The upshot is obviously that this book presents nothing new, nor does it present anything particularly well.

* Useful checklists in the production sections
* Good production values

* Poor presentation and organization of the material
* Uninspiring, uninspired recipe collection
* Missing critical details in many aspects of production
* Not well-written
* Mostly filler (insert sodium tripolyphosphate joke here)
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on December 9, 2010
When you order a hardcover 400 page book with a list price of $65 you expect it to be definitive, or close to it. This book falls far short.

I feel the book is shallowly written. Yes, there quite a number of recipes for each chapter/topic , but they fail to explain themselves as to the how and whys? If for example if rice is used as binder in a sausage I want to know why it was used in that particular recipe and not others, or what cuts of meat can work for that recipe other than the ones listed.

Because the author is a teacher I expect him to do that, teach. To give over, not recipes and tidbits of information, but an in depth understanding so if someone wanted to make a charizo using beef instead of pork, or oil instead of fat, they could using basic understanding

I couldn't figure out who he was targeting, not the home hobbiest or the professional in the field. He doesn't speak in a friendly tone guiding you through the steps - more written like a text book - and a shallow one at that. It seems like he put his classes into a book, covering topics, not a as a friend who wants you to make a fantastic product.

I'm sorry my review is so harsh perhaps others will really enjoy the book. This is just one man's take.

I had high hopes - but sadly disappointed.

I would very much reccomend these three books that all together give you a pretty good idea of the topic:

For a real in depth read:Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages

For a cute book that tells you about 75% of what you have to know:Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing

This one is written by scientific home cook (a man after my own heart) he has a very easy way about his writing I like it, he writes to you about what works and what doesn't, Ive bought his book and contacted him him questions, very kind to respond and gave many suggestions.Mastering the Craft of Making Sausage

Good Luck!
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HALL OF FAMEon February 25, 2011
Charcuterie has become ever more popular and is being done by many small delis and restaurants. Even home cooks are getting into the act. This book is a professional quality text from the Culinary Institute of America to teach its students the entire process of charcuterie from choosing the right equipment, you make. The drawings and pictures are impressive and the teaching process is very good. If you read and follow this text carefully you will be well on your way to learning how to prepare salamis, sausages, pates, and other cooked, seasoned, and preserved meats.

This book has nine chapters. The first four deal with the basic equipment you will need, the spices, herbs & seasonings you will use, the kinds of meats (beef, pork, poultry & seafood) you can use and where he are cut from the animal, and the all-important issue of sanitation. Making something that can make you, your guests, or customers sick or worse is no good at all.

The next four chapters show the techniques of curing & brining, smoking, forcemeats, and sausages. Each chapter is more than half recipes you can make using the techniques shown early in the book and specifically in each of these chapters. There are many beautiful pictures and helpful illustrations to help you see what you need to do and what you are aiming to create.

The last chapter is full of recipes for sauces, chutneys, relishes, and all kinds of flavor accompaniments for your charcuterie. The back material also includes resources you can use to study more and pick up the equipment you need. There are also conversion tables, a glossary, and two indexes - one for the subjects and another for the recipes.

This is a handsome book and I think it looks great. It reads very well. I think the target market is the student or home cook looking for a way into the subject rather than as the definitive book for an experienced professional. But I have not made the things in this book. I lack the equipment to do so. However, I hope to get some and make some of these things. It looks like a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy doing it for yourself.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
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on March 29, 2016
Started reading the book and decided to try the bacon recipe. It calls for 2.5 oz/71g of InstaCure for 10pd/4.54kg pork bellies. However according to the USDA: Use cure mixtures that contain nitrite (e.g., Prague Powder 1, Insta-Cure 1) for all meats that require cooking, smoking, or canning (PHS/FDA 2001). Dry cure using 1 oz. nitrite per 100 lbs. meat maximum. For sausages use ¼ oz. per 100 lbs. (Reynolds and Schuler 1982). A 120 ppm concentration is usually sufficient and is the maximum allowed in bacon (PHS/FDA 2001).

This excessive use of Insta-Cure in the recipe makes one wonder how save and accurate the information in the rest of the book is
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on December 10, 2013
This book covers everything one needs to know about charcuterie, and gives it to us in a classical way, leaving us room to make recipes our own.
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on January 31, 2012
Great book for anyone interested in charcuterie! the recipes are easy to follow, translates well for a professional kitchen. a must have!
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on February 26, 2017
For a CIA culinary text book it is missing way too much detail. I was expecting to much more scientific detail and the "why" type explanations. If you find a used one at half price it might be good for a high level overview of the topic, but I am very disappointed by the content.
The only good thing I can say about this book is that is has a variety of basic recipes to try.
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on January 9, 2013
This wonerful book is about the best on the high-end home to semi-professional levvel for those interested in charcuterie. Yields are apprporiate for home use, methods are scaled to high end home appliances and tools. There is a great deal of attention paid to smoked and cured foods, condiments, sauces, pates and terrines as well as the forcemeats and sausages one would expect.
There are many updated recipes reflecting current culinary trends, as well as the more traditional favorites.
Includes both recipe and subject indices, glossary, and several very well laid out tables
Very highly and enthusiastically recommended!
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on September 6, 2013
Book is written well, and delivers a bunch of great methods for good practices. Good blend of recipes for a Charcuterie kitchen, pates, sausages, sauces, pickling, etc.
Love chapter 7 on forcemeats......starts by outlining the details of this craft in the kitchen by the ratios of fat to lean..progressive grinding and also emulsification.

This book is a must for any cook in the kitchen, and home cook that wants to work with meat proteins.
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on October 16, 2014
Exactly what we needed to start curing our own meats. It's so important to know where your food comes from and this is well written if you are interested in doing this yourself.
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