Customer Review

216 of 231 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "As-salt-ed" by Tom's lack of proof reading!, 19 Oct 2013
This review is from: Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food (Hardcover)
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.

[...]
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Oct 2013 16:04:21 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Oct 2013 16:05:20 BDT
Bush says:
I posted a similar comment.

I ruined about the cost of the book worth of belly pork with this daft typo, I am mad at myself for not working it out prior!

Tom has received a number of tweets from different people about this problem that have gone unanswered. In the very least he or his publisher should say something I feel.

Posted on 19 Oct 2013 20:48:08 BDT
tracy hodges says:
could not agree more with Mc Blades domestic god comments, have cooked the belly of pork and chicken leg recipes, so salty threw it all away also cooked the apple and toffee crumble found the toffee to hard and chewy to eat it is a shame, i love his cooking programme on the tv but his cook book is all wrong some one needs to try the recipes before it is published.sorry tom you seem really nice but your cook book is not right.

Posted on 20 Oct 2013 10:36:10 BDT
Absolutely fantastic review, one which has saved us from buying the book. Will probably check the book out more on the high street first. Thank you for posting such a great and useful review.

Posted on 24 Oct 2013 11:30:54 BDT
Kommando says:
From the Pork Belly receipe as on the BBC site

150g/5½oz demerara sugar
200g/7oz sea salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
sprig fresh thyme

Bring 1litre/1¾ pint of water and all of the brine ingredients to the boil. Make sure the sugar and salt have dissolved, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

So definitely an error in the book.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Oct 2013 09:17:07 GMT
Mc Blades says:
Yes, and the same error is propogated in the salt beef and fried chicken recipes. It really is sloppy proof reading.

It's not such a problem for the experienced cook, but many people will blindly follow these recipes and wonder why they are such a disappointment (not to mention toxic in the case of the salt beef!).

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Nov 2013 09:05:07 GMT
Bush says:
And not to mention the cost of the meat... my mistake cost me more than the book did!

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jan 2014 12:19:22 GMT
Tony Rome II says:
Thanks for taking the time to review this, very worthwhile. As a copy editor myself I must say - what were they playing at? Not Tom's fault I suppose, surely someone in the 'team' must have had the responsibility to check the detail on quantities etc. but bad form that he's not answering queries and concerns from genuine customers.

PS "Assuming you survive the Salt Beef Sandwich" made me laugh.

Posted on 26 Jan 2014 22:46:20 GMT
Check out the pease pudding recipe, boil dried split peas for 45 mins until super soft? 5 hours or more from dry, 2 hours after overnight soaking. Really annoyed about this as I knew it was wrong, but followed the Michelin star recipe. The levels of sugar and salt in many of the recipes are life threatening , 200g of honey glaze on 750g of bacon !

Posted on 23 Jun 2014 20:13:24 BDT
I concur with a lot of what has been said. I tried the pollack with chickpeas and chorizo, and it was so salty it was almost inedible. And yes, I did thoroughly wash the fish when it came out of the fridge. The only other recipe I've tried is the trout with fennel and lemon thyme, which tasted awful. I obediently used the amount of fennel seeds stated in the recipe, i.e., 1 tablespoon for two people, thinking 'this is surely too much', and, yes, the final dish was unpalatably bitter. Only when I scraped off all the dressing could I eat it. Maybe he really does mean the amounts that he states. After all, Tom Kerridge is very, very fat.
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