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4.6 out of 5 stars
Ginger Pig Meat Book
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is at first glance a beautifully presented cookery book, but on further inspection, it is so, so much more.

Whilst the majority of the book is dedicated to meaty recipes, the first section of the book (about 100 pages) is a crash course in all things meat. Different breeds of pig, sheep and cow are discussed (amongst others); there are pictorial step-by-step guides to boning, stuffing and rolling a loin or pork, boning and rolling a shoulder of pork, preparing a cote de boeuf or cutting two joints from a shoulder of lamb; there is guidance for purchasing each type of meat in terms of what to look for visually - colour, signs of stress etc; British (and French) chicken labelling - I could go on.

This book has also been a real revelation for me in terms of seeking advice and guidance from my local butcher. In the past I have always felt rather foolish, as I am very aware that I am not very knowledgeable about which cuts are best used for which purpose (even though many of the terms are very familiar, such as rump, silverside, chump, topside, saddle etc.) I have lacked confidence in knowing what cuts are fit for a particular kind of cooking and I have been rather ashamed of it. Not only has this book helped me to understand why different cuts work differently (in terms of how hard they work), but it has also opened my eyes to what many may see as a fairly obvious fact, that that my butcher is there to help me and guide me (rather than to make me feel "sheepish"!) I am now going into my butchers with a good idea of what I want and then I am explaining that to him my plans for the meat and seeing whether he agrees with me! Very liberating!

The heart of the book, the recipe section, has been organised month-by-month, taking into account the seasonality of ingredients. However, there is a personal insight into that month's running of the farm at the beginning of each chapter. This is a really personal, human account, which together with the outstanding photography, captured by Kirin Perers, really transports you between the farmyard, the kitchen and the dinner table.

There is a plethora of information and guidance, from preparation and butchery of the meat and the seasonal availability of game in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland right through to a roasting table for temperatures and timings for everything from the relatively commonplace beef to the more unusual mallard or teal.

The recipes are nicely balanced, with recipes for homely favourites like Toad-in-the-hole or Tim's Roast Chicken to the more adventurous such as Braised Spanish Pork with Muscatel Raisins or Duck and Pistachio Pate. However, it is a practical book and the recipes are ones to make rather than just to read and with that in mind, the balance is more towards the homely and recognisable and most of the ingredients are readily available (I haven't yet found any Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) though!) and the techniques are believably achievable. It is great to have a book like this which if you are ever fearful of taking a recipe on, even stares your fear down on your behalf, like the recipe for wet-cured ham from scratch, which begins, "Don't be scared...." (I still am a little, but less so!)

If recipes such as Mutton Shepherd's Pie or Hungarian Pork Goulash, whet your appeitite (as they did mine) then this is the book for you. It would make a great gift for someone who likes to read cookbooks as much as they like to read novels - as it is nicely balanced tome of information, storytelling and food.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 October 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
No doubt about it, this is a beautifully produced and printed book, on thick, matt-finished paper and in a proper, old-fashioned binding that stays open. And who could be cynical about a book written by someone who espouses such high standards of animal care and food quality?

Well, me, as it happens. There's some excellent information about breeds of animal and the cuts taken from them - just the job if you've ever wondered about the difference between collar bacon and picnic ham - but these and the rather twee 'on the farm' anecdotes seem too focused on promoting the authors' own wares, excellent as they undoubtedly are. The recipes are nice enough - some of them very nice indeed - but the only thread running through the book concerns life on the farm through the year, when it should be all about the meat.

The high-quality production is let down in places by some sloppy proof-reading, and the occasional piece of bad cooking advice - most heinously to stuff a turkey and then to cook it in foil, which will lead to soggy skin and overcooked breast meat by the time the stuffing is starting to get warm. There are also sloppy, obsolete usages like 'seal the meat', which have no place in a book that seeks to improve understanding.

I'd be probably far more sympathetic to this book if it weren't up against a modern kitchen classic, The River Cottage Meat Book. I don't underestimate HFW's gifts as a self-publicist but he's also a mighty fine educator: his book takes the time to explain the physics and chemistry of good meat and how to cook it, and it's a life-changing experience. Under his influence I do my roasting now with a meat thermometer and scarcely look at the clock, but Wilson and Warde rely on an old-fashioned minutes-per-kg table and don't mention internal temperature at all. It's symptomatic of the Ginger Pig book's lack of substance - an impressive-looking volume but disappointingly superficial.

UPDATE Nov 2011: I've decided to award this book a third star simply because it offers the best set of instructions I've yet seen in how to tie a butcher's knot - the slip knot that holds together long enough for you to fix it before the meat unrolls. It works, and my rolled, stuffed joints look much neater as a result.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2011
With the recent trend of people accepting the origins of their food due to the work of chefs, butchers, fishmongers and all the other wonderful people who connect us with every delicious morsel that passes our lips, a book such as The Ginger Pig Meat Book is expectedly seeing tons of attention.
I'd like to take some time to really bring attention to the farm-related text in the book. As a cook, farmers are cool. Farmers are the guys who do the REAL hard work, and we're given the gorgeous results of their hard labour and, in most cases, we're in charge of just heating it up, and then taking all the credit. By including "day-in-the-life" journal entries for the farm, Wilson sheds light upon a much underappreciated aspect of the food industry. It sure is a dramatic journey; from the birth of a rare breed of pigs, to the premature death of a large chunk of his lamb population, Wilson documents the rewards and heartbreak of running a farm. It truly is such a treat to have a book such as this to really highlight the work of the people raising good meat from happy, healthy and well-cared for animals.
The Ginger Pig Meat Book has easily become one of my favorite cookbooks. Not for the same reasons as The French Laundry Cookbook or Michel Bras, mind you, but as a book that, on principle, sends an important message to the uninformed. Times are a changin' in the world of food as people begin to really care about where their food comes from, and with this book, Ginger Pig Farms affirms it's position as a rallying point of such a powerful and momentous movement.
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on 15 January 2012
I'm not usually inspired to write reviews but this book has been such a revelation to me that I felt the need to put down a few words.
I always wondered why my home cooked fried steaks, roast chicken, beef and lamb never quite met the expected heights that the recipe books promised. Sure I'd heard on many cookery programs the importance of sourcing good quality ingredients, but as I always bought "organic" in supermarkets I assumed I was doing this. That was until I bought this book.
Tim Wilson spends the first half of the book talking about the importance of good husbandry techniques when raising and slaughtering meat on the farm. He uses many examples from his own farms that supply the Ginger Pig chain of butchers. It's only on reading this that I began to realise how many short cuts are made when raising the meat that the vast majority of us buy in the supermarkets and how detrimental that is both to the flavour of the meat and also to the welfare of the animals. It also made me realise how important a good butcher is.
Tim also goes through the different cuts of meat. This is particularly useful in the case of beef - where before reading this I was always somewhat bewildered by the sheer quantity of different parts of the cow that can be bought and how to use them for different recipes
I have to admit I haven't really paid much attention to the recipes in the book. But so far I have made some fantastic steaks. On the book's recommendation I've sourced dry aged rather than previously bought supermarket wet aged and also rib -eye rather than our previously bought fillet. The taste was incredible.
The book makes you realise that creating something tasty in your home is a long process that starts in good husbandry in a farm, moves on to humane slaughtering, maybe dry hanging, good butchering and then finally how you cook the product in your kitchen. What has been an epiphany to me is how small a part that kitchen cooking is to the whole process. What Tim Wilson gives you in this book is the ability to be able to source good meat to ensure that all the stuff that happens to the meat before it reaches your kitchen will give your cooking the best possible chance of a tasty result
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 June 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This beautifully presented book consists of two parts. The first describes various animals and breeds used for meat, the cuts which can be obtained from such animals, and some information on butchery (if you ever fancy boning a shoulder of pork, for example). There is also a very useful photographic guide to different types of steak (which was printed in the Guardian). The emphasis throughout is on responsible ethical farming and slaughtering.

The second part is a collection of delicious-looking recipes arranged seasonally covering a vast range of meat dishes, from old favourites such as slow roast lamb to original combinations such as pork and rhubarb. The emphasis here is very much on starting up a dialogue with one's butcher, for example the recipe for olive-stuffed chicken leg requires caul fat, which 'if you really can't find it' can be replaced with Parma ham. However, for those who, for whatever reason, are more used to Tesco, the book still has applicable recipes, such as meatballs in tomato sauce and poached chicken and noodle pot.

The recipes are well laid out with most containing a small number of good quality ingredients. I have already made the rabbit paella, which was very easy and met with much approval! Inspired by this book, I am now looking forward to making future frequent visits to the butcher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2013
What a book, awesome, just received it and love it already, so much information.
On how a farm works through each season to which cuts of meat to buy, and how to make your own stock.I have done this before but never thought of roasting the bones first. Can't wait to try out some of the recipes.

Just need to get some Mutton from my local butcher can't find any in my local supermarket surprise surprise.
Takes me back to when I was a kid and my mums Mutton stew on wash days
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2014
As someone else has said, this is much more than a cook book. The book is split into months with recipe's geared towards seasonality which is a great way of organising the content. You're given an insight into a working farm and after reading it, I came out with a far greater appreciation of the meat that I was eating. The recipe's are simple in the best meaning of the word and a great advert for British food.
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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Simply put you will find some superb food in this book and you wont be stuck for ideas. Obviously not a choice for vegetarians as each and every recipe shows you how to get the best from all varieties of meat from the mundane every day bit of beef to the obscurest of cuts... The book doesn't try to be something it's not, it's well put together and well written with detailed information about how to buy, source, smell, prepare and cook. It demonstrates what is good to eat when and what to put it with. After cooking from this on a few occasions it's certainly taught me more about seasonal foods and how to buy better cuts for good money and not breaking the bank.

The imagery in the book are also worthwhile and very good. Presentation and feel is top quality and is a good size to use in the kitchen unlike some of the coffee table cookery books that are out there which are awful to use in the kitchen, this however is one that will stand the test of time.

As much as there are many recipes in the book it's more than just a recipe book as you will learn the key skills you've been missing for years, worthy of the purchase.
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on 26 February 2014
This is BY FAR the best meat cook book, and possibly best cook book full stop.
The first part of the book is about the types of meats, cuts and techniques and is utterly fascinating. I challenge anybody who visits to open the book and not salivate instantly at the pictures or recipies.
I can honestly say that every recipe we've made from this book has been incredible, you know when you take a bite then look at your partner/friends/cats and just smile? I rarely want to finish these recipes, it just upsets me when there's nothing left.
I highly recommend all of the recipes, but the sticky ribs, slow cooked roast pork, glazed chops and tagine. The slow roast pork just melts in your mouth, now this is the only way I cook pork joints, just frekin mouthfulls of joy wrappen in happiness and giggles.
Recipies are in month order, not that that makes much difference, what with supermarkets and not having to kill and keep meats, unless I'm missing out on something?
Clear instructions, easy to follow and just all round great.
Buy it, or borrow it, but I doubt anyone will let it out of their house.

Enjoy,
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on 17 February 2012
A delightful and useful addition to the kitchen bookshelf. The main use of the Ginger Pig Meat Book is the very detailed information on the different parts of the animal - including rare and obscure cuts. This is information nearly every other cookbook either ignores or skates over. The recipes are set out in monthly chapters, which is also useful, and encourage the cook to make use of the diversity of cuts of meat. Pictures set the gastric juices flowing. The book is well-packaged and robustly printed and bound - handy for kitchen use. Mild criticisms only: the chapter on game overlooks the hare - not to everyone's taste, but glorious. And the book is also thin on offal; again, offal is not to everyone's taste, but people who are sufficiently advanced in their cookery skills to find this book useful would probably be into experimenting with offal as well.
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