This is a sizeable tome for those committed carnivores who are truly interested in their food. Leith’s Meat Bible is a one-stop book for the meat-eater who cooks, or for anyone else who cooks for people with a love of delicious protein. It’s not a cheap meal option so you’ll want to make the best choices when selecting meat, and match that particular cut with the most appropriate recipe.
This truly is the size of an old-fashioned family bible. It boasts over 450 recipes and 545 pages in total. There is an abundance of information on cooking techniques and meat storage. Each type of meat is considered, and recommended cooking methods and temperatures are given. There are also lots of line drawings offering step-by-step instructions on removing bones and trimming.
Leith’s School of Food and Wine was established in 1975 to provide training for those wishing to enter the professional culinary arena. The school also provided shorter courses for those who were enthusiastic home cooks. This book is an instruction manual for both the professional and those who just want to shine in their own kitchen.
The recipes here are an eclectic bunch. The Exotic Meats chapter offers all manner of meaty treats in the guise of alligator, crocodile, impala, llama and many more. Nice to know that you can eat well next time you run over a muskox. There are also plenty of recipes for the more common meat-counter items, so this book will still be useful even if you have no intention of poaching a python.
The authors do not assume any prior knowledge of meat preparation. There is a recipe for an English roast chicken with a classic stuffing. The French roast chicken is slightly different in that it is cooked with a little stock to prevent dryness. The Greek chicken makes full use of lemon and will transport you back to the Aegean …for at least a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon.
Buying a whole chicken can often save money over buying portions. Each full chicken will garner 8 pieces ready for use in any casserole recipe. The step-by-step sketches will show you exactly how to cut up the poultry, and for the more adventurous there are instructions for boning a whole bird – a marvellous technique to master. Carving a boned and stuffed bird is simple and there is no waste.
I was surprised and pleased to see a chapter on sausages – recipes for making one’s own but also for using store-bought black pudding, chorizo, pork sausages and the like. This is a volume full of real food: mince, pies and puddings add to the showcase of meat in all its flavourful glory.
Leith’s Meat Bible is for serious cooks or those who want to be. The recipes are sensible (well, apart from the python) and well written. There is everything here you will ever need to know about meat cookery.
Leith’s Meat Bible
Authors: Max Clark and Susan Spaull
Published by: Bloomsbury
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018