Top critical review
331 people found this helpful
"As-salt-ed" by Tom's lack of proof reading!
on 19 October 2013
Tom, have you actually tried cooking any of your recipes from this book using the weights and measures you have written down?
a 25% brine for salt beef is far too high and will make for an unpalatable cure, assuming you survive the dangerously high concentration of saltpetre!! 50g is enough for 2 gals of brine and way over the EC limits for curing meats.
The book is littered with proofing errors, most notably in the amount of salt used in the cures. Both the pork belly and chicken in a basket recipes use a 50% brine. This is not only far too salty for a brine but also impossible to dissolve (salt saturates at about 35% w/v in boiling water!!!
I am a big fan of Tom Kerridge's style of food but with recipes like these he will disappoint a lot of people which is a shame.
One last tip, assuming you survived your salt beef sandwich, if you make the shoulder of lamb on pomme boulangere use a leg instead. I tried with shoulder that I boned out and removed as much fat from as possible. The potatos were still swimming in grease when the lamb was cooked. Leg is a lot les fatty and should work just as well for a slow cooked joint (I prefer it butterflied on a BBQ).
In short Tom, you MUST check your work, especially when potentially toxic nitrates are used (use safer nitrites instead bought as an all in one cure or get 1g accurate scales and make sure you use a recipe from a reliable source!!).
Update - 12/11/2013
Absolute Press, the publishers of this book, have now published an errata relating to the salt and saltpetre quantities used in the salt-beef, belly pork and fried chicken recipes (essentially reducing the salt quantities from 500g to 200g). The publisher also state that later editions of the book will incorporate these changes. This is good news for those who have yet to try the recipes. For my tastes (and I like salty foods) I would reduce the salt level in the brines to no more than 10% (ie 100g/l) but his is just my opinion.
The level of saltpetre has also been reduced to a less toxic level. However, these days, saltpetre is really only needed for long slow cured meats like salami that will be held in a cool, dry environment (<10C) where the microbes required for the nitrate/nitrite conversion can do their job). In the fridge, this conversion is less certain. If making saltbeef (or bacon etc.) Do yourself a favour and use prague powder #1 (a widely available safer mixture of sodium nitrite and salt) in the cure instead of the saltpetre, along with Toms herbs, sugar etc. You'll get The same flavour in less time and without the uncertainty of the nitrate levels.
There are still errors to be found in the book (eg the batter recipe for the fish and chips) but none that are likely to completely ruin the dish so effectively as the salting errors.