Meat and seafood cookbooks

Time Out reviews the freshest books for carnivores and seafood lovers

John Torode’s Beef

John Torode, Quadrille, £25

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Australian-born chef John Torode has made British beef his business. His restaurant – Smith’s of Smithfield, near the famed meat market – is renowned for its well-presented good steaks, and this nicely-designed book follows suit. It starts out with the basics: a few words about sourcing beef, then a round-up of cattle breeds with cartoon-like drawings of each type before moving on to cuts of beef, with brief descriptions. Rather ingeniously, the book jacket can be unfolded into a full-size poster of a ‘meat map’ showing the part of the animal from which the various cuts come.

This is not a butchery manual: the focus is on cooking and recipes and the tone is much more light-hearted than, say, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Meat Book’. Recipe-wise, there are a few Asian-inspired ones such as grilled beef with Thai flavours in rice paper, beef rendang with lemongrass and ginger, and Japanese style beef with tobiko (flying-fish roe).

There are a few stocks, gravies and accompaniments too, but the recipes concentrate on hearty, meaty mains such as bollito misto, pies and pasties, and braised ox cheeks. And, of course, plenty on steaks, from clear instructions on how to fry, griddle or barbecue a steak properly, to recipes for carpet bag steak, the rarely seen double-cut porterhouse steak with béarnaise sauce, and T-bone steak as well as burgers and roasts.

‘Variety meats’ are not forgotten, as there’s a chapter on offal, as well as a section on veal with classic recipes including such Italian favourites as ossobuco, vitello tonnato and veal saltimbocca. The recipes are clear and easy to follow, making this one for the bovine buffs.

Susan Low, Time Out London Issue 1997: November 27-December 3 2008

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