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Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery Hardcover – 31 Oct 2001
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The influence of Elizabeth David's approach is evident in this classic book on the history and art of charcuterie by Jane Grigson (1928-1990). Beginning with a 'picnic guide to the charcutier's shop, Grigson introduces the riches of French cooked meat to the English cooks and travellers of 1967, with recipes for every part of the pig, sauces and relishes and a variety of terrines and pates.
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From this we move to "Charcuterie Equipment", taking us from buying in the shop to creating at home. While some of the equipment can be improvised easily, other items are likely to be expensive and the days of picking them up on junk stalls at rural markets for a few pence are long gone.
Now equipped, and braced by a section on spices, herbs and sauces, we are plunged into the world of nose-to-tail eating. Many of the recipes, such as those for pates and sausages, are suitable for the ordinary enterprising cook, although at first reading they appear daunting. Others are for the more adventurous, happy to source the ingredients. If you are the Fearnley-Whittingstall type who is killing their own pig, no problem; but in rural areas buying half a pig isn't too tricky. If you don't keep pigs, much of the offal, ironically, will be more easily sourced in the conservative North than in the affluent South of the UK.
Curing your own bacon and ham is usually considered a specialist job, and personally I am a bit daunted by the prospect of attempting something so redolent of the risks of food poisoning. It would also be difficult, even for the smallholder, to get some of the ingredients (5 pints of blood?) unless the chap slaughtering your pig is very co-operative; butchers will often hang onto some of the offal unless you specifically ask for it. On the other hand, the reassurance of those who have commented on this review makes me keener to give it a go.
When this book was written (1967), charcuterie wasn't really available to the ordinary shopper, and day trips to France on the Eurostar mere pipe dreams. On the other hand, local pork butchers and small slaughterhouses were still routine. Even so, I wonder how many cooks actually attempted many of the recipes in those days. While it is charmingly written and very thought-provoking, it is no longer the only practical book for the ordinary cook. Up-to-date, well illustrated alternatives are available; however friends have had problems with the recipes in some. It would seem that this book still earns its place on the shelf, ahead of some of its flashier modern counterparts.
There are recipes here for using all the pig - and, once you get over our pre-conceived ideas about what is edible, you will find a wide range of flavours opening up to you.
gave me the most dreadful time once upon a very long time ago!) Jane Grigson's
'Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery' was first published in 1967 but remains one
of the finest tributes to the execution and preparation of every part of this fine beast.
(Fergus Henderson's 2012 'The Complete Nose To Tail : A Kind Of British Cooking', is
another wonderful contribution to the genre should you wish to cultivate an obsession).
Mrs Grigson's narrative is lucid, informative and entertaining in equal measure.
Here was a cook who wasn't at all timid to roll up her sleeves and dive into her
subject well above the elbows! The recipes are economical and easy to follow,
even if some of the cuts would certainly not be the easiest to find in this country.
Terrines; sausages; boudins; hams; offal; "the extremities" (joy of joys!) - they're
all here for the taking and making. Cured; roasted; braised; smoked; grilled; fried
and stuffed - pork in all its abundant, pink, fatty, glory has never had it so good!
Secondly things have moved on in the use of salpetre and cure mixtures that are better covered in e.g. "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing", particularly because we now recognise health implications in their use.
This book is good for reference but there are better books (see above) for the uninitiated
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