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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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on 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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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a fantastic cookery book for meat lovers. It's well presented and has lots of informative pictures of animals, cuts of meat and how to joint meat as well as yummy photos of the finished product - a meal on a plate. There is no vegetarian section in this book unless you count Mint Sauce or Yorkshire Pudding.

The recipes I've tried have worked really well and have been easy to follow. Most are meals that people want to eat at home and can be prepared without too much faffing. There are loads of good old traditional recipes such as Slow Roast Belly of Pork (page 142), Beef Stew and Dumplings (page 181) and Lancashire Hot Pot (page 184). But equally, if you want a twist on the usual or are cooking for a dinner party there are lovely ones such as Pork Fillet with Rhubarb (page 200) or Mediterranean Gunea Fowl (page 206).

The only gripe I have with this book is the Roasting Table at the back of the book. I often pick up a recipe book just to check roasting times, weights and temperatures but this one is confusing. Meats, temperatures and cooking times are given as usual but at the bottom of the page is a note saying that `temperatures are calculated for a fan oven; if using a conventional oven reduce the heat by 10 - 20C'. Now that is completely the opposite of what is normally stated (a fan oven temperature is reduced by 10 - 20C, not conventional). It's probably best not to use the Roasting Table and follow cooking instructions as stated on each recipe. This is a lovely book to own and any `foodie' would be over the moon to have one grace their kitchen.
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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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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 4 November 2015
Christmas is a-coming and, if there is a 'foodie' in your family, this is the perfect present. Beautiful to hold, beautifully illustrated, beautifully organised, beautiful recipes!!
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on 14 December 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I consider this book to be my most useful cookery book. It's a meat lover's bible - it very comprehensively covers all aspects of meat (husbandry, cuts, breeds etc) as opposed to being just a book which is full of recipes and nothing else. There are recipes in the book which are in a seasonal order and cover pork, beef, lamb, poultry and game.

The Ginger Pig is the name of the company of the man who wrote the book, and I got the feeling that he is extremely proud of the care he takes in raising his animals to be eaten. This pride comes across in the photographs of the animals that are throughout the book and the way in which he has written about them. I defy any carnivore to read the book without having their mouth water!

A full five stars.
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on 8 September 2011
I've got a tonne of cook books and sadly do enjoy reading them as much as a normal book quite often.

The Ginger pig is a nice looking book it can't be denied, I do like books that are a bit over engineered so they can last years in a hot & steamy kitchen without falling apart and this is such a book.

As other reviewers have stated, this is much more in the Hugh Fernley Whittingstall vien, in that it's as much about animal breeds, welfare, meat itself and highlighting the important connection of where the meat actually comes from - vacumm packed pork chops it ain't. While being very laudable and certainly readable, it's just a shame that the recipes don't take more of a centre stage.

The recipes themselves are mostly pretty simple, relying very heavily on having the best quality meat money can buy... no bad thing you say but it was reminescent of some classic Italian cook books that are super simple but if you don't have the access, or money, to buy the very finest tomatoes or cheese, the recipes are distinctly flat in flavour. I've tried a few things from the Ginger Pig and while there's some good solid ideas in here, the flavours haven't really blown me away - but then again, I'm not getting my meat from the Ginger Pig farm so perhaps herein lies the problem.

A more serious issue is technically the recipes are sometimes poorly thought through and I wonder whether they've actually cooked these themselves before or they just like the look of them... or their proof reader just doesn't understand basic cooking method.
An example is pg 214, their rump of beef pot au feu. They advise putting whole carrots and the potato's in for the last 20 mins or so. I don't know how they slow cook stuff in the Ginger Pig kitchen but in mine it takes longer than 20 mins to cook carrots - and I've never had a pot au feu before that's served with crunchy carrots. Plus the celery is added for the last 8 minutes - celery is there as a flavour agent for stew and should be in there from teh beginning - it is not some delicate thing to be served blanched. It may seem like a little thing but to someone slavishly following the recipe it's going to end up with a rubbish supper of either seriously undercooked veg or seriously overcooked meat.

On the subject of overcooking, the Roasting Table at the back of the book is reckless. It's well layed out but the footnote states "Temperatures are calculated for a fan oven; if using a conventional oven reduce the heat by 10-20C".

!!!

This is totally untrue and the exact contrary is the case. Fan ovens are hotter than conventional ovens, that is their whole point. Bearing in mind Meat is probably the most expensive ingredient to any meal and particularly in this case where they recommend good quality high end gear to cook with, it is terrifically irresponsible to have this massive and glaring error in the book. If you follow what they say to the letter, you're going to ruin every bit of meat you get wasting your cash and not enjoying your meal.

Again, it may seem like a small point to more knowledgable cooks out there but there's plenty of folk who buy a nice looking cookbook and just blindly do what the recipes and instructions tell them. Again, I wonder just how well this book was proofed before it was actually published - if I'd gone to the considerable effort and expense to get this book out there, I'd be mortified that it contains such very basic mistakes that anyone with half a brain could see just aren't right.

All in all it's worth getting but I think the author's should perhaps stick to writing what they obviously know about and that's farming and eating; and leave the cooking bit to people who actually cook.
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on 26 June 2011
Vegetarians look away now!

There's more to meat than a Sunday roasting joint, chop or pack of mince and if you're going to eat meat I strongly believe you should know where it comes from. I don't mean the butcher, market or supermarket but the provenance; how it has been brought into the world as an animal, cared for, slaughtered, hung, butchered and sold to us.

The Ginger Pig Meat Book, a collaboration by Tim Wilson, the farmer behind the Ginger Pig chain of butchers, and Fran Warde, cook and food writer, is more than just a cookery book. It tells the whole story, from terre to table, of the pig, the cow, the sheep, birds and game animals.

It's an easy to read and skilfully produced reference book on the characteristics of different breeds, what is good and bad husbandry, humane methods of slaughter, good butchery as well as what quality meat should look like, how to pick the right cut for a dish and how to store, prepare, cook, rest and carve it.

Not only does it serve as encouragement to us all to choose our meat well, but also to the growing number of farmers working to bring back traditional British breeds of animals, so called rare breeds, pushed to the verge of extinction as a result of intensive farming.

The recipe section, complete with a collection of 100 recipes showing off head to toe cuts from all the great British animals featured in the reference section, are organised around a year in the life diary of a busy and bountiful Yorkshire farm.
The seasonal recipes cover family favourites (meatballs, burgers, casseroles), British classics (hot pots, pies and roasts), quick evening meals (I can vouch for the smoked bacon and cheddar tortilla, roast duck legs with lentils and fragrant lamb kebabs), dishes for entertaining (Navarin of lamb, roast Michaelmas goose) meals from around the world (Bogota bavette, goulash and lamb pilaf) as well as recipes for the more daring; curing your own ham for instance. There's even a recipe for the Ginger Pig sausage roll which, according to Valentine Warner, is the finest sausage roll known to man.

In essence the recipes are for good, honest food, the key to which is quality meat.

The book has a charming rustic look and the beautiful photographs of happy animals in their natural habitat as well as the wonderful dishes they serve to create are plentiful. A real treasure and a fabulous book for any animal and meat lover.
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on 3 January 2014
Bought as a christmas pressie for my husband,who's kept looking at this book for ages, and he wasn't dissappointed. It is a well written and very informative book giving you an insight into the meat you buy and prepare before it reaches the butcher's, plus of course. then an array of mouth watering dishes to prepare and enjoy. If you love meat, then you'll love this book
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