Ginger Pig Meat Book Hardcover – 2 May 2011
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'I care too much about what I eat not to buy meat from The Ginger Pig. There are many great butchers in Britain but no single company which covers the whole process from the happy animal in the field, to the terrific cut of meat in my kitchen in the way they do. When I shop at The Ginger Pig I know I'm going to eat well.' - Jay Rayner The Observer
This book is packed with expert information on every aspect of buying, preparing and cooking meat.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
The recipes are clear and easy to follow, without many difficult to find ingredients. I'm pleased to say all the recipes I have tried turned out great, and I've picked up some great tips to improve my best cooking in general.
This would be a great gift for someone who likes to know all about the food they cook, and where it comes from.
The second part is a collection of delicious-looking recipes arranged seasonally covering a vast range of meat dishes, from old favourites such as slow roast lamb to original combinations such as pork and rhubarb. The emphasis here is very much on starting up a dialogue with one's butcher, for example the recipe for olive-stuffed chicken leg requires caul fat, which 'if you really can't find it' can be replaced with Parma ham. However, for those who, for whatever reason, are more used to Tesco, the book still has applicable recipes, such as meatballs in tomato sauce and poached chicken and noodle pot.
The recipes are well laid out with most containing a small number of good quality ingredients. I have already made the rabbit paella, which was very easy and met with much approval! Inspired by this book, I am now looking forward to making future frequent visits to the butcher.
Well, me, as it happens. There's some excellent information about breeds of animal and the cuts taken from them - just the job if you've ever wondered about the difference between collar bacon and picnic ham - but these and the rather twee 'on the farm' anecdotes seem too focused on promoting the authors' own wares, excellent as they undoubtedly are. The recipes are nice enough - some of them very nice indeed - but the only thread running through the book concerns life on the farm through the year, when it should be all about the meat.
The high-quality production is let down in places by some sloppy proof-reading, and the occasional piece of bad cooking advice - most heinously to stuff a turkey and then to cook it in foil, which will lead to soggy skin and overcooked breast meat by the time the stuffing is starting to get warm. There are also sloppy, obsolete usages like 'seal the meat', which have no place in a book that seeks to improve understanding.
I'd be probably far more sympathetic to this book if it weren't up against a modern kitchen classic, The River Cottage Meat Book. I don't underestimate HFW's gifts as a self-publicist but he's also a mighty fine educator: his book takes the time to explain the physics and chemistry of good meat and how to cook it, and it's a life-changing experience. Under his influence I do my roasting now with a meat thermometer and scarcely look at the clock, but Wilson and Warde rely on an old-fashioned minutes-per-kg table and don't mention internal temperature at all. It's symptomatic of the Ginger Pig book's lack of substance - an impressive-looking volume but disappointingly superficial.
UPDATE Nov 2011: I've decided to award this book a third star simply because it offers the best set of instructions I've yet seen in how to tie a butcher's knot - the slip knot that holds together long enough for you to fix it before the meat unrolls. It works, and my rolled, stuffed joints look much neater as a result.
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