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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 6 July 2004
This is not just a cookbook, but an almost poetic expression of a passionately-held philosophy about food.
First the bit you would expect: tons of great recipes, covering both the more familiar cuts of meat (roasts, pies, casseroles) and weirder ones (innovative ways with liver, sweetbreads, brains and more). So far so good: a really solid meat cook-books
But now comes the good bit: the book is also a sensitive and educational exploration of why we should eat meat, how farm animals should be treated, and how to select meat so that it tastes good. The author argues passionately that it is both our moral and our culinary duty to buy good meat: animals that have been well treated taste better. He also includes a very well thought-out section on the ethics of meat-eating, which far from being the standard diatribe against vegetarians is subtle, educated and immensely convincing.
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on 21 June 2004
The man with the most appealing sounding lifestyle in Britain, carries on his real-food campaign with panache in this immensely usable and useful volume. I often scour stacks of cook-books looking for a recipe or instructions for a particular cut and type of meat, now there's a single volume to answer that need. He's always going to make enemies in the Vegan sector, but who could fail to be moved by his passion for quality and standards in food and especially meat. It's also a clarion call to us as consumers to think before we buy and to act on our ethics. He makes you believe you can contribute to ending the stranglehold of intensive chicken rearing for instance.
To top it all, the book is well written, beautifully designed and lvishly illustrated. What more could you ask from a cook book - oh, yes recipes! Well, those are excellent, reliable and oh-so tasty. He make's me re-think my hostility to TV-based food programmes. Hugh, you are a good thing indeed.
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on 24 May 2004
It seems a little ironic that a pilgrimage to Manchester to see arch-vegetarian Morrissey's home-coming show should give me the opportunity to notice this book but a cursory flick through the pages confirmed my hope that it would take me to the next rung on the hobbyist cook ladder.
Most cookery books answer the "how?" questions with varying degrees of success but I suspect that after the third or fourth Recipe Collection Christmas Stocking-Filler, many people would like to have a few basic "why?" questions answered to satisfy the need to be able to improvise when ingredients (or even equipment) aren't available or simply to satisfy their creative urges.
The book is therefore split into two so that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall can first deal with what you should know about meat before he deals with how you can best cook it. HF-W's combination of concise facts about the meat industry and cutting - sometimes very comedic - observations will give any reader the armoury and terminology to be more intelligent about what they buy (how many people really have more than a rudimentary knowledge about which part of an animal provides which kind of meat and what it's good for?) but as he appears to agree himself, this book is only a starting point and you'll have to establish a good relationship with a good butcher to really get the best ingredients and the best use of what you do buy.
Once you do all this, the rewards are the recipes in the second half of the book. HF-W runs through a number of well-known meat dishes and as usual, some are more adventurous than others. His easy going style and his refreshing honesty about when "the right way" is simply his own opinion makes you realise how accessible good cooking and good ingredients actually are.
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on 12 January 2007
I have always had a huge respect for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. His cookery programmes have been amazing as they are more than just programmes. They are all about understanding food and its nature. He has effortlessly translated this into a beautiful and highly readable book.

I was engrossed in it from the start. His introduction about meat is amazing. By understanding the nature of meat, its production, slaughter, hanging and packaging, you can go a long way to understanding the nature of meat itself and how best to buy and raise it.

In fact, it is all about really basic details in preparation - from how to make hams to how to buy the best kidneys and why. Hugh seems to be on a mission to make popular old favourites such as tripe and liver - I don't knwo how much success he will have in that area, but his explanation on why it doesn't necessarily taste too good now is definitely indisputable.

I really enjoy his easy readable style, his disucssion on best raising techniques of pigs for instance was fascinating. He has practised what he writes about, he raises his own meat, slaughters it and then prepares it himself. It is a bit disconcerting having a dead pig head starting a chapter, but then Hugh talks about using all thebits of a beast in his chapter entitled 'thrifty'.

Fro those who don't want to raise and slaughter their own beasts, you will gain much from his other chapters - which meats make the best to fast cook (and why) and which are the best to slow cook. Both have why and how. There are chapters on slow cooking, cooking in wood fired ovens, and much more.

The recipes are delicious and the stories about them interesting reading and all provide depth of background to the recipes themselves. This is one book which will be remaining on my shelf for years to come, It is easy to use, interesting, and provides fundamental knowledge. It has my highest recommendation!
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on 24 August 2005
I have never been so impressed by a food book before; it's so good, I gave a copy of it to my butcher. The writing is lucid, humorous and informative. A wide range of realistic recipes as well as thought-provoking chapters on sourcing the best meat and the principles of cooking make "Meat" ridiculously good value at its reduced price. You finish each chapter inspired to cook according to some simple tenets relevant to the particular type of meat under discussion. The book is also beautifully designed and produced.
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on 22 July 2004
This is just an amazing resource for anyone who is serious about their meat. It gives a balanced overview of the animal rights issues surrounding the different types of meat, what to look for in a good cut of meat and how to make it go further. I found it immensely helpful.
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on 28 November 2006
I have to admit going into this book with a fond regard for the author, however I had not expected the book to have such a profound effect on how I view and eat meat. As a result of this wonderful book, we eat less meat a week, at a far higher quality than we ever did before. This is clearly the authors aim, and for this he should be applauded. His introduction alone is a very balanced and non-judgemental look at man as a natural carnivore, followed by a very thought provoking discussion on modern farming methods, good and bad. Don't let this put you off, what follows is a masterclass in learning more about the process of buying and choosing meat, and finally some fantastic recipes with the quirky humour you would expect. Anyone who refuses to call gravy a jus or reduction because its GRAVY gets my vote.
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on 23 August 2006
At last: a book about meat that makes it clear that eating meat can be an ethical and honest activity. Sympathetic to vegetarianism, although clearly not an advocate himself, Hugh is always open and frank about where our food comes from, how it is reared, and how it ought to be respected both before and after it is killed for our consumption. The cooking advice is pretty good, too: 'The sizzle' has completely transformed the way I cook roast meats, and as for Mrs Wheeler's Irish Stew: divine!
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on 29 January 2006
I have a shelf of cook books that stretches 6ft wide, one of those enormous cube things you get flat packed from Ikea that takes 3 men and a donkey with a degree in tessellation to get in the car and Herculean strength to get it out at the other end and then you still have to put it together. That said, it holds a vast array of superb cook books including; Nigel, Nigella, Jamie, Gordon, Rick, Anthony (Bourdain), Anton (Mossiman) and Delia just to mention but a few.

Hugh, yes after this book I feel that we are on first name terms, does something the others don't seem to manage. Don't get me wrong I love Appetite by Mr Slater - his recipes are simply awesome. Try the mushroom pie in puff pastry - WOW. But Hugh, he lets you into his world and tells you his thoughts and ideas, nothing is held back, it's like he did not mean to create such a massive tome, he just got carried away and had to tell the whole story or else you would be missing out.

Take Cassoulet as an example, It's not just a recipe it's a conversation piece, you get to know about the deep politics behind what could, should or might go in it. Render the fat, crush the garlic, pick the bay leaves, make the confit, soak the beans, dice the pork rind, cube the belly pork, brown the meat each step is easy to do and no longer is it unachievable.

These recipes are not dumbed-down.
They are not patronising.
They are not precious.
They are just real and straight forward.

Follow them as your guide on a journey of culinary experience and you will create some meals that you would not have dared to contemplate. He just arouses so much curiosity that rather than just read the text and looking at the pictures he motivates you to be a better cook and probably a more conscientious carnivore.

It seems sad to call this a favourite cook book when this is so much more. Perhaps this is the Hitch Hikers guide to the galaxy of meat, I'm not sure but I just love this book and don't want to know anyone that disagrees.
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on 14 May 2005
I've always thought that the most respect you can give an animal that has given its life for us humans to scoff was to, at least, eat most of it. Unfortunately, most people seen only to want the choice cuts.
Here's a book that redresses the balance and not only presents a fantastic rationale for meat-eating but also respects the animal by giving us fantastic recipes for all the parts, from sirloins to ribs, livers, hearts, tongues and pancreas.
Simply the best book on meat around.
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