Thursday, November 11, 2010

Meat Cookbooks

Vegetarians, avert your eyes, now! This year there are several cookbooks dedicated to cooking meat. If you are like me, you are eating less meat, but being more particular about what you consume. I no longer buy meat at the supermarket. I am too haunted by images of factory farming. But I am still eating meat and while it makes up less of the plate, the few days a week I do cook it, I want it to be as deliciously satisfying as possible. Each of the following books are written by James Beard award-winners who know their stuff. Their recipes work, their writing is clear and their knowledge unassailable.

Meat by James Peterson James Peterson is an experienced cooking teacher, he not only knows how to cook, but knows how to explain it clearly to just about anyone. Meat, A Kitchen Education is his latest book. All kinds of cooking methods are covered in it and it's worth pointing out his book includes chicken, turkey and fowl. Step-by-step photos show how to carve, make dishes like salt pork and veal chops in papillote. The book focuses on classic dishes like Irish Stew, and Beef Wellington but also has more creative ones such as Oxtail Stew with Grapes, and Mostarda di Cremona. Particularly helpful are illustrations that show where each cut comes from on the animal. The book has 175 recipes.

Good MeatThe most massive tome out this season is Good Meat, subtitled the complete guide to sourcing and cooking sustainable meat, by Deborah Krasner. If you are concerned about sustainability, this is your book. It answers the questions you may have about grass-fed beef, Halal and Kosher meat, the flavor of pastured meat, "pink veal" and other modern meat issues that are not necessarily covered in other books. It is lovingly written, I don't know how else to describe it. The photos are stunning of both animals and dishes. There are recipes for using offal, pheasant, and pig's tail, in addition to much more accessible cuts and types of meat. Recipes I can't wait to try include Lamb Sausage, Eggplant and Orzo Salad, Pork Loin Chops with Ruby Port, Prunes, Cinnamon, Turmeric and Ginger and Beef Stew with Vermouth, Yam, and Mint (it included pomegranate molasses). The book has over 200 recipes.

Falling Off the BoneThe smallest format book is Falling Off the Bone by Jean Anderson. This is a straight-forward recipe book. Not all the recipes use meat on the bone, but all are for succulent style dishes that will make you swoon. It's a book of comfort food, plain and simple. It includes and braises, soups and stews. There are old fashioned dishes like Country-fried Steak and more out of the ordinary dishes like Aegean Lamb and Fennel Stew, Far East Spareribs on Sesame Sauerkraut and Danish Fricadeller in Onion Sauce. Unlike the other books, this one includes just beef, pork, lamb and veal, and no poultry or game. The book has 163 recipes.