Meat and seafood cookbooks

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Time Out reviews the freshest books for carnivores and seafood lovers

Leiths Meat Bible

Max Clark & Susan Spaull, Bloomsbury, £20

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Leiths Cookery School, founded by Prue Leith in 1975, published its first comprehensive ‘Cookery Bible’ in 1991. Ever since, they have been expanding sections of it into new publications that detail techniques, vegetables, fish and now, meat.

At Leiths Cookery School, now in Shepherd’s Bush, amateurs and professionals alike are taught how to become technically adept cooks. Recipes are therefore rigorously tested and honed by a legion of students, bent on perfection. Authors Susan Spaull and Max Clark are part of Leiths’s stable of skilled teachers and writers, each of them contributing to or editing past publications.

This is cooking with facts, not sentiments, as in many of the other meat tomes now available. Where you choose to buy your meat is left to your own discretion. What is covered, in thorough detail, is the breeds that are bred for the table, which cuts are used, and the whys and hows of best to prepare them.

There are tips on what might go wrong, and how to deal with problems. Diagrams throughout illustrate how to tackle jointing and carving, with clear instructions. There are tables giving cooking times and pointers, like the ‘rule of thumb’ for testing done-ness. Many quick recipes are interspersed with longer, more elaborate dishes. Recipes from cuisines all over the world are drawn for inspiration.

The book is split into chapters on each animal, with an extra chapter featuring exotics – ostrich and crocodile, but also specific breeds of antelope and snake. Not everyday fare, but interesting nonetheless, to know that elk is considered to be the sweetest of the deer species.

We tried a recipe for brined chicken breasts – the antiquated method of brining did indeed make the meat more tender and flavourful (when compared to the unbrined breast we also tested). The paprika grilled flesh contrasted beautifully with the suggested peach and mint salsa.

This is a reference book for those who know their parson's nose from their pinions – and if you don’t, you’ll learn a lot.

Zoe Kamen, Time Out London Issue 2088: August 26-September 1 2010

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