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Everything you need to know about BEEF and more besides!
on 3 November 2011
In it you'll find some old favourites such as 'Cottage Pie', 'Beef Stew & Dumplings', 'Burger' and 'Steak & Kidney Pud' nestling with those less well-known, perhaps, e.g.'Pelmini', 'Vitello Tonnato' & 'Sauce Gribiche', and the unexpected such as 'Pasta', 'Chips' (The Big Chip), 'Pineapple Pickle', 'Richard & Judy's Spaghetti Bolognese', all wound up by a short & sweet chapter (dedicated to puds).
To give this chunky tome its full title, 'John Torode's BEEF and other bovine matters', is a great book with the extra bonus of the dustcover doubling up as an informative poster measuring around 50 cm x 75 cm detailing the various beef cuts and which part of the animal they come from.
Measuring in around 25.25 cm x 19.25 cm, the durable hardboard cover opens to 256 high quality shiny pages in a predominantly red, black and beige theme spilt over main chapters:
♦ Stocks, Soups & Gravy (pg 22-33)
♦ Carpaccio (pg 36 -49)
♦ Salads & Snacks (pg 52-77)
♦ Pasta & Rice (pg 80-95)
♦ Pies, Stews & Braises (pg 98-123)
♦ Steaks & Big Hunks (pg 126-163)
♦ Salt Beef: Bresaola & Pastrami (pg 166-185)
♦ Veal (pg 188-211)
* Offal (pg 214-233)
* Sweet (pg 236-249)
sandwiched between an introduction, a short list of recommended butchers and a full index.
The introduction includes snippets of information including a note about John's restaurant at the heart of London's, Smithfield meat market, called, simply - 'Smiths'.
His aim is to bring beef home...put simply - 'any cut to anyone'.
And he delivers.
Overall, it is a passionate and well-written book with some Aussie influences, which you can pick up and dip into any time and have the confidence to tweak if so desired. Of course, if you are familiar with his TV appearances, his voice is there as you read along, offering that little bit more encouragement to try something you might not otherwise try!
John, of course, is not one to mince his words, if you'll pardon the pun!
He often says exactly what he thinks in his familiar banter e.g.:
From 'Mushroom Soup with Mushroom Toast', on page 30.
'I really (bleep) hate thin, tasteless soups that are for diet purposes only and not for taste. This soup has few calories, but has true beefy mushroom flavour from the dried mushrooms and beef stock...
From 'Carpaccio' intro:
'...The beef fillet you use for carpaccio should be fresh, fresh, fresh and not hung for a long period. Unlike most cuts, fillet benefits very little from time on the bone (with one exception - read on!) and it shrinks so it costs a (bleep) fortune. Other things to remember: don't buy fillet in a plastic wrap or it will taste gross - and don't freeze it, or it will turn to mush.
Each chapter opens with a double page with the title in white and relevant narrative all on the right-hand page.
Each recipe has the title, a relevant opening comment, the amount of servings, the list of ingredients and a clearly laid out method. Some are contained on one page, some spill over on to a second, sometimes eight appear across a double page spread. Peppered throughout is photography at its very best, as usual, by Jason Lowe, with a few of the recipes or ingredients and some 'on location' shots.
Some recipes carry 'Tips' and/or 'Variation' boxes.
'How to cook a Great Steak' is a feature of the chapter entitled 'Steaks & Big Hunks' with advice to use fillet and young sirloin for frying and grilling the 'bigger, tastier, fattier ones like the rump, rib or naything on the bone'.
The following 8 recipe spread covers the most popular accompaniments, including good old 'Onion Rings' and 'Béarnaise Sauce'. Later on in the same chapter, twixt pages 144 & 145, is a double page fold out entitled 'Beef for 100' (spit-roasting).
A small taste of the other recipes contained within:
* Beef Stock (Shin bone based and a basic for other recipes)
* Truffle soup with Pastry Tops
* Rich Beef and Barley Broth
* Basic Recipe for Carpaccio
* Grilled Radicchio
* Cold Beef Salad with Horseradish, Beetroot and Watercress
* Fresh Goats' Cheese & Beetroot
* Nam Jim
* Fragrant Satay with Peanut & Coconut Sauce
* Oxtail Ravioli with Soy & Ginger Broth
* Risotto with Wild Garlic
* Potato-topped Beef Pie
* Cornish Pasties
* Braised Oxtail & Celeriac Mash
* Daube à la JDT
* Bollito misto
* Beef Stroganoff
* Cote de Boeuf with Caramelised Shallots
* Surf & Turf
* Gratin Dauphinoise
* Classic Châteaubriand
* The Roast (inc Yorkshire Puddings)
* Beef Wellington
* Salt Beef Sandwich, Pickles & Mustard Mayonnaise
* John's Big Tasty Pastrami Sandwich
* Ginger Spiced Chickpeas
* Crumbed Veal Escalopes
* Ox Tongue
* Tripe Roman Style
* Baked Apples & Custard
* Jam Roly Poly
...and...with Christmas just around the corner (at the time of writing):
* Christmas Roast Beef with Mustard Crust
* Mincemeat & Mince Pies
* Christmas Pudding & Clootie Pudding
My favourite recipes to date are already mentioned but the one I have cooked the most times is:
'Spaghetti and Meatballs', from pages 90/91. I have also used the variation tip of 'Veal & Spinach Meatballs'. Either way the dish does need to:
'slop,drip and splatter. It has to be piping hot and soaked with sauce, and sprinkled with fresh parmesan...a 500g pack of spaghetti will be fine for 4-6 people as long as you have lots of meatballs. Now look: everybody loves meatballs so make LOADS. That is my best advice, my friend.'
And that is the overwhelming feeling left at the end of the book - a gem of a book written by a good friend.
Of course the other main ingredient you really need is a butcher you can trust!