The River Cottage MEAT Book

A Book Review by Franz Scheurer

 

A good friend of mine gave me this book eons ago. Itís a big hefty tome and somehow I could never find the time to start reading it (once I start a book I have to finish it). I finally did this weekend and by now, Sunday evening, Iíve just finished it. Itís bloody marvellous!

 

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the author, is as passionate about meat as humanly possible, and his passion is infectious.

 

It starts off very dry, talking about the ethics of eating meat; the quandary of dollar-driven mass production, with its inherent cruelty to animals, resulting in inevitably bad quality meat, versus the rare breed, hand-reared form of husbandry, where animals enjoy freedom of movement, decent feed and a painless death, and the wonderful, healthy meat that results.

 

He explains how to buy meat, what to look out for and how to store it. He then looks at each type of beast (including beef, veal, lamb, hogget, mutton, pork, chicken, turkey, goose and game) and explains cuts and uses for each part of the animal. I particularly value the double-page colour plates depicting how to cut up a beast. He goes on to describe in detail the cooking methods applicable to meat, teaching the perfect way to bake, braise, stew, steam, pickle, smoke, grill, panfry, barbecue and spit-roast. If you can take this all in, thereís no excuse for not turning out the perfect meat dish. You will learn all about aging meat, about resting meat after itís cooked, how to preserve, make terrines and sausages or cure hams. Itís the most complete book on meat I have ever read and it doesnít matter how much you think you know; thereís still lots to learn.

 

The last section of the book is devoted to recipes; and theyíre gorgeous. A simple roast beef is a way to woo the family for a Sunday dinner and the Aromatic Shoulder of Pork ĎDonnie Brascoí is an ideal feast for a large crowd. Fearnley-Whittingstall demystifies the Mexican Mole and offers a no-shortcut full on recipe for this dish, while the Fritto Misto of Offal with Sage and Capers is an offal lovers dream. I am also impressed with quick, interesting dishes that shine with flavour and texture, like the Black Pudding Won Tons.As I said, it will open your mind to a myriad of new possibilities, never letting you forget the basics: good produce, proper handling and faultless technique.

 

Published by Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN 0 340 82635 5

Printed and bound in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner

 

If youíre only ever going to buy one book on MEAT, this is the one!