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The River Cottage Meat Book Hardcover – 24 May 2004
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As you would expect from the quirky and strong-minded Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The River Cottage Meat Book is a quirky and strong-minded book. This arm-straining volume (weighing in at an impressive and well illustrated 543 pages) is quite the most ambitious volume yet by an author who absolutely refuses to be categorised. Is he a cookery writer? An expert on the sociology and history of food? An eccentric TV personality? Actually, of course, he's all three (and more); and all of his various skills find expression in this, his magnum opus.
The first intriguing question that The River Cottage Meat Book inspires is: what is the author's agenda? The book has so many aims it's difficult to know where to begin. First of all, this is a definitive guide to the preparation and cooking of meat, in all its various forms. Fearnley-Whittingstall deals (in assiduous detail) with such topics as roasting, grilling and preserving everything from turkey to trotters, in a variety of recipes that he obviously knows and loves. But there is far more to the book than this--fascinating sections on the many different types of meat (lamb, pork and so on) are crammed with information on the different cuts of meat and what they should be used for.
But as someone who raises and utilises his own livestock at the River Cottage, Fearnley-Whittingstall is clearly passionate about the welfare of animals bred for food, and provides some unpalatable information on widespread misdemeanours in these areas. If nothing else, this book will persuade you that it's a good idea to buy your meat from butchers who are equally passionate about these issues, or even direct from reputable farms. The concept makes sound ideological sense, but also ensures that your meat dishes will have an unrivalled depth of flavour. --Barry Forshaw
Unflinching respect for the animal and commitment to the truth sets Fearnley-Whittingstall apart from the rest of the food-writing mob. This is the most honest cookbook I have found, reeking with helpful, hands-on wisdom. It is everything it should be and more ... deliciously funny, well written and neither macho nor sanctimonious. If you eat meat, you will buy, prepare and cook it better having read this book. (Jill Dupleix, The Times)
Thumpingly enormous, extremely good, and manages to be at once a recipe collection, a series of tutorials on the principles of cooking, a directory of organic suppliers, a philosophical essay, a timely report on the state of intensive farming and a forceful polemic (Sam Leith, Daily Telegraph)
The sheer wealth of information is amazing and it is truly one of the most informative and passionate books you will ever read on the subject. It should be bought by every meat-eating household, as well as every butcher and supermarket manager throughout the land (Martin Koerner, Waterstones Books Quarterly)
I have been unable to put it down ... I urge all meat lovers to go and buy it. It is excellent (Mervyn Hancock, Western Daily Press)
Carefully researched, revelatory and powerful... The technical bits of the book are especially good and equip you with an understanding that is all too often absent from celebrity chef offerings ... delivered with lively writing and endearingly corny puns (Felicity Lawrence, Guardian)
A tome as heavy as a newborn piglet ... brave and deeply challenging stuff... a refreshing and triumphant antidote to dumbed-down recipe writing... positively incendiary (Joanna Blythman, Sunday Herald)
The solitary TV regular who can write a decent cookbook ... the enthusiastic carnivore will relish all 550 pages (Christopher Hirst, The Independent)
The best new book of the year without a shadow of a doubt, a serious treatise, a meat cookery bible and a supremely appetising recipe collection. Fearnley-Whittingstall is our most important and eloquent food writer today. His finger is always on the pulse. He tells it as it is without pulling punches and without wagging a moralising finger. This is the work of a thoughtful and caring omnivore. Everyone who eats meat should have a copy, and some who have stopped eating meat may find reasons in it to reconsider meat-eating in a fresh light (Philippa Davenport, Financial Times)
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This book is an absolute must for any keen cook and generally anyone who has any vague sort of interest in the different cuts of meat from various animals, and also the ethics behind various types of animal husbandry. The information concealed in this veritable tome will give you the knowledge and confidence to try new cuts of meat and to actually venture into a proper butchers and speak to them about what you want and about where the meat is sourced, and to be able to cook it correctly and do justice to the animal it came from. More and more this knowledge is being lost and a lot of the younger generation now know only the very basics about the cuts of meat. This book will inform and inspire and is my favourite cooking book I own, and I have quite a few! It will give you a most important foundation of knowledge by which to build your confidence and repertoir on.
I requested my brother buy it for me for my birthday a few years ago, and now he has his own house and is gaining in confidence in cooking he asked for it for xmas this year, and he has already read lots of it and loves it too, and is already talking about swapping from intensively reared meat to cheaper cuts of more welfare-conscious produce.
If you are lacking confident on your cuts of meat and really want to know what the crack is, you MUST buy this book. Every discerning cook should have this on their shelf, proudly displayed next to your Delia Smith Complete Cookery Course!
Buy this book, Hugh deserves your patronage for this, his grand opus!
Learn about the animals, the meat and what constitutes goo and not good meat. Genuinely lots to learn. I have always known a bit more than most as the son of a butcher and having worked on farms as a teenager, but I still learned a huge amount.
This is more a textbook on meat than a recipe book - though there are plenty of recipes, this is more a canon of knowledge and philosophy.
Chapters on each class of meat. Then, chapters on each type of cooking - Roasting, Slow-Cooking, Barbecueing, for example.
What really sets it apart is how much detail he goes into about each meat. The section on beef, for instance, covers everything from how it is hung, to a diagram of each cut (and how best to cook them), and what to look for when buying.
He does this for lamb & mutton, pork, poultry, venison, game and many other meats. The scope of the coverage makes any other book pale in comparison. Certainly it has changed in a nights reading my entire outlook on meat, and what i am buying. I now have a local butcher who is always happy to see me come into the shop with a new request for some obscure cut or joint for that weeks roast.
And this is even before you hit the recipes, which are as per usual delicious, hearty and you can really picture Hugh slaving over a joint of meat in his kitchen as you prepare the dishes.
This book is a must buy for any self respecting cook, the knowledge you will gain about your food is incredible. The only problem i have now is how am i going to fit all the meat joints that i want to cook into my fridge and freezer.
Brilliant through and through.