River Cottage Meat Book - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Written by jema
The River Cottage Meat book is a hefty and expensive tome, a chunky 544 pages, with a £25 price tag to match.
sheer weight of the books might be enough to forewarn people that this
book is not simply a lightwieght celebrity product placement,
aimed at extracting maximum cash from a TV series or three.
It is a whole lot more than that...
Introduction to the River Cottage Meat Book
Cottage Meat Book aims to make you think about the entire process of
meat eating, from farm to slaughter house, to your dinner plate.
like to encourage you to think about the meat you eat. Is it good
enough? Good enough to bring you pleasure every time you eat it? What
about the animals it comes from? Have they lived well? and what about
the way you cook meat? Are you adventurous with it? Are you thrifty
with it? Do you respect it, and do it justice?"
starts the book off with a long philosophical discussion on the ethics
of meat eating. You may not find yourself agreeing with all of his
arguments, but he will force you to critically examine you view of
Hugh devotes a major
section of the book to teaching how Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry and game
get to our butchers or supermarket shelves. This is a no holds barred
look at best and worst practice in the industry, and will be an
education for almost anyone reading it. This section should change your
meat buying practices forever.
As well as a polemic on the meat
farming industry, there is a mass of useful information here as well.
You will learn about the cuts of each animal, and what they are best
used for, about jointing meat, about how meat should be hung to develop
the best flavour.
There is also information of value to the
smallholder raising their own animals and poultry, though I think they
might prefer more specialised books. However these snippets provide a
good insight for those thinking about starting on the "River Cottage
Having comprehensively covered meat
before it hits the frying pan, Hugh takes the next step and covers the
cooking and processing of meat.
Whether you want to cook the
perfect roast, or cure your own Bacon, Hugh has something here for you.
Including detailed instructions in the art of gravy making.
will also be challenged, Hugh demonstrates his commitment to "Nose to
Tail" eating with recipes for hearts, ears and trotters amongst
other esoteric cuts of meat and offal.
If I have one criticism of
this section of the book, it is that when promoting the more unusual
crafts like curing and smoking, whilst I'm eternally grateful for him
doing so, he is not really an expert. Try these crafts yourself and you
will find the information in the meat book is pretty meagre and
occasionally well off the ball.
This is a
book that will change your attitude to meat. At the same time it is far
more than a polemic, it is a practical guide to all things meat. There
are over 500 pages and this review has not touched on the information
on buying meat, the resource listings of businesses offering organic
meat, or useful supplies. As Hugh recommends "Nose to Tail" eating, I'd
recommend cover to cover reading of this book.
For the thrifty
whilst this book is worth every penny of its cover price of £25 it
can be found much cheaper if you look around.
Buy this book as a christmas prezzie for anyone receptive to thinking about the ethics of our dinner table.
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