This is the second book in the new Apple Press series of Cooks Guides, which it has been my pleasure to review, the first being The Cook’s Guide to Fish. The Cook’s Guide to Meat has the same hand-book-size and leatherette finish as the fish guide and also enjoys the benefits of the same illustrator, Jane Laurie. I feel she deserves as much acclaim as the writer, as her work is so much a part of the success of the book.
The author, Jennie Milsom, was trained in French Culinary Arts and Wines and Spirits, and has been a chef as well as a writer of features and recipes for several magazines. In 2004 she became deputy cookery editor of Good Housekeeping Magazine. This is her first book.
If you are at all interested in food, and meat in particular, then I would recommend this book. It’s rare to find a book of such beauty and detail, and containing so much practical advice. Meat is expensive and few of us have money to burn, undercook, ruin or waste. You want to present meals that are tasty and tender and to do that in the most cost-effective way.
There have been a host of health scares over the last decade or two. Many of us are concerned about animal welfare and we need to know that the meat on the plate came from healthy and content animals which were dispatched with the minimum of stress. Best advice is to find yourself a good butcher and ask questions. The Cook’s Guide to Meat shepherds you (this book considers sheep, cows and pigs) through choosing the best meat and enables you to talk to the nice man behind the counter in a fashion that will convince him of your knowledge of the subject.
There are hundreds of cookbooks which will offer recipes for meat dishes and list “diced pork” or “slices of beef”. If you know the cooking method to be employed then you will be able to buy the most appropriate cuts of meat for the dish. You wouldn’t want to use silverside for a stir-fry as it demands long slow cooking. Fillet on the other hand is tender but will cost more. It’s horses (a rich, lean meat prized by the French) for courses!
The Cook’s Guide to Meat offers advice on cooking each cut, describes its flavour and where on the carcass the meat might be found. If the particular cut has aliases then these too are noted – one person’s tenderloin might be another’s pork fillet. There is a list of useful utensils for cooking meat. I’d say a meat thermometer is indispensible if you intend to prepare joints of meat. Such a gadget gives a novice cook a bit of confidence and has saved this experienced cook from more than one disaster. Buy one that has a probe that is inserted into the meat before it reaches the oven. Set the temperature and then the alarm will tell you when your joint has reached juicy perfection.
The Cook’s Guide to Meat is part of a soon-to-be classic series. A book that is lovely to look at and packed with information that will save you money. A marvellous gift.
The Cook’s Guide to Meat
Author: Jennie Milsom
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018