This book has been around for a good many years and that’s a good indication that it’s a worthwhile read. You can bet that any book that is reprinted as many times as Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery is a winner with the public. I have been looking forward to delving into the pages and it has not disappointed.
The name Grigson will be familiar to any cookbook-reading, food TV-watching gastronaut but most will have Sophie in mind. Jane was Sophie’s mum and has still a reputation that is right up there with the likes of the great Marguerite Patten, Elizabeth David and Gordon Ramsay… OK, so I put that last one in to check if you are paying attention!
Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery has, as the name suggests, a French slant. Written in the 60s, it offered a glimpse into what seemed at that time the strange and exotic world of “foreign” food and memories of holidays daringly taken on the wrong side of the Channel. Attitudes have changed and we now delight in the prospect of eating and hopefully cooking items that we have marvelled at – noses pressed up against the windows of charcuteries all over the Gallic world.
If you are a lover of pies, patés, sausages, hams with a few nice sauces then this is the book for you. This isn’t a book stuffed with colour photos but it’s solid writing with recipes that are surprisingly simple and easy to follow. Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery is probably even more relevant now than when originally published.
The recipe for Sausage Meat (Chaire à Saucisse) has several delicious variations with advice on turning the sausage into paté or stuffing. There are country sausages, Toulouse sausages, Alsace sausages and boiled sausages.
White pudding, as opposed to black pudding, is seldom seen in the UK. Admittedly it isn’t a thing of beauty but it can be tasty comfort food when made with a recipe that includes enough spice. Jane Grigson has Boudins Blancs de Paris that will take you right back to that little bistro just between the metro and the bike shop.
You don’t need to be an expert in the kitchen to find Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery of value. There are plenty of tips on sauces. I think all the classics are here including mayonnaise, parsley sauce and mustard sauce. None of these are over-taxing and a home-made sauce will elevate an ordinary roast bird or pork chop into something special with very little effort.
Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery is an essential volume for any serious cookbook collector, any lover of fine food, all those who seek out the ready-prepared dishes in French Charcuteries and any of us who want to make those dishes ourselves. Yes, we can do it. Read the book!
Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery
Author: Jane Grigson
Published by: Grub Street
ISBN 1 902304 88 8
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018