Customer Review

14 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, 30 April 2011
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This review is from: The River Cottage Meat Book (Hardcover)
This is a good book, and why can be seen from the many previous reviews. The book well deserves three amazon stars. In response to the 5 star inflation (admittedly biased towards the negative):
Even though full of valuable information and thoughts, some seem a bit dated in 2011. This is not only true for the general background, but also modern cooking methods such sous vide are underrepresented. Science of meat cooking doesn't go deep enough for my liking. The presentation is very lengthy, and the tongue-in-cheek style - condescending at times- a bit tiresome after a while. As usual in cooking books originating from British TV series there is an abundance of pictures, including many of the author and his TV farm (admittedly, they are not as silly as the pictures in Jam. Oliver books). Showing dead animals is laudable, but more pictures of meat cuts than of eating people would have been helpful. The author is a strong proponent of buying British meat, and doesn't see much point of buying meat of other countries (for example NZ lamb). This opinion is not unusual and shared by many people of other countries, all praising their own produce. Of note, one of his first comments on BSE is pointing out the French government's use of the moment to ban British beef import. Unusual for a cooking book 'Meat' has several references to other authors, however, unfortunately mostly to authors which are not suited to advance one's cooking skills. Grip of the British media cook mafia?
Even though often introduced with useful background, the recipies itself I found somewhat uninspiring. Using uncommon cuts is laudable but clearly not enough. Over- and underseasoning are occurring, see cinnamon, apple and citrus sauces for various dishes. Sauces in general, not unimportant for meat cooking, are neglected. There is more possible than scratching the pan. Preparing schnitzels in olive-oil-butter is not a good idea, neither is preparing a stew with stout only (at least the author admits the latter in brackets), for example. Side-dishes are a bit dull.
A good advice is, however, to eat more mutton because the sheep then can enjoy jumping around longer.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Aug 2011 15:35:34 BDT
G. Walton says:
Don't confuse a "Meat book" to a "River Cottage Meat book".

Sous Vide is not going to be mentioned, as with all River Cottage titles, this is a rustic British cookbook for the home, not professional kitchen. Sous Vide is irrelevant to home cooks in Britain, most don't even know what it is, let alone own the expensive specialist equipment.
Science is never going to figure highly in any of Hugh's books, it is not his style, I'm not sure why you would think that this book could ever be from that angle, as many would expect, his shows and books run parallel, not perpendicular. It's always going to be cooking as a craft not a science.

It sounds to me that you are either in training or simply aspiring to be a professional grade chef. It would be a good idea to make that clear at the beginning of your review to target people coming from your position. Your points might be very helpful to guide them away from this book but leaving that caveat out makes it's context and usefulness blurry to others who aren't coming from your position.

Most of the people this book is aimed at won't own The French Laundry, The Fat Duck cookbook, Three Star Chef, etc etc and they won't have had any professional chef training. They are missing general background information and context from their Nigella/Jamie/Slater books and this can give them these basics in spades when it comes to meat, coupled with recipes different in style from the other books they own.

I recommend you don't buy any of his other books. His raison d'etre is considered a strength by many of his fans (and you have identified some of these as failings in your eyes). Expect all his books to be like this one.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2011 18:47:58 GMT
I completely agree with these comments; the strength of this book lies in it's rustic style. Many people are daunted by cooking meat because they think it has to involve intricate precision (so called 'modern' techniques). Humans have been cooking meat successfully for at least thousands of years. If you want to be successful with meat, follow the guidelines in this booking. Slow, long cooking of tougher, more flavourful cuts and gentle roasting of large joints will result in beautiful results without a water bath in sight. Also make the most of your meat with clever use of leftovers, stock making, etc. Lastly, I think this book was worth buying purely for one or two really wonderful recipes. We are having the pork belly hot pot for dinner tonight and it has become one of my standby comforting winter dishes.
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