The Hairy Bikers’ Meat Feasts, by Si King and Dave Myers (published August 2015)

This book is a marvel! I know that I tend to say that a lot when it comes to Si and Dave’s culinary publications, but it is always a justified assessment, especially here. Lavishly illustrated with delicious-looking photographs, as always, this book will get your digestive juices flowing before you even enter the kitchen!

As the title suggests, this is the perfect book for unapologetic carnivores like me. There are starters, salads, roasts (of course!), soups, many glorious ways to encase meat in pastry, curries… The possibilities are endless! I particularly liked the inclusion of a whole section on the uses of offal (liver, kidneys, pigs’ trotters, heart, tongue, bone marrow, and sweetbreads – the thymus glands of a calf or lamb). These parts of an animal tend to be overlooked, possibly out of a knee-jerk ‘Ew! Internal organs!’ response, or a cultural association of offal-eating with poverty/low social status[1]. This is an unjustified slight on parts of an animal that are flavoursome and full of nutrients; liver’n’onions and steak’n’kidney pie are classics for a reason!

There’s also a drool-worthy chapter on uses for leftovers – I really liked the look of the ‘croquetas’ recipe (good for using up leftover pork or ham), and the inclusion of a method for oven-baked pork scratchings made me smile. I have a weakness for these crunchy, tasty little morsels.

At the back of the book is a section on side dishes, pickles, and sauces to go with various different meat dishes. There are tips on stock and consommé, guacamole, herb jellies to use as condiments or extra bursts of flavour in a sauce, coleslaw, the many wonderful things that can be done with the humble potato… yum! This section should give you plenty of ideas for making your meat dishes that bit more special.

The final chapter contains some sage (ahaha…) information and advice from a farmer who rears animals for meat. Topic include the best places to buy meat, methods of curing, the differences between types of meat (especially differences caused by the age of the animal and how it was reared – this has very important effects on the flavour), what to look for when buying, and proper storage once you’ve brought your meat home. There are also annotated diagrams showing which parts of a cow, lamb, and pig different cuts come from, as well as which cuts work best in which dishes (as a general rule of thumb, the tougher the meat, the better it is for slow-cooked stews – this is not a guarantee, though, so always ask an experienced butcher for advice).

The only real gripe I have is the inclusion of salt in recipes where it is simply not necessary; this is a fairly minor point, as I can simply omit the salt without adversely affecting the final product.

All in all, I can safely say that this book is well worth investing in, especially if you make meat dishes on a regular basis.

[1] This was certainly the case in medieval times – this is where the expression ‘to eat humble pie’ comes from. ‘Umble’ pie was made with offal, so if someone of high status had to eat this, rather than the cuts enjoyed by their erstwhile peers, then they had taken a serious social tumble and been ‘knocked off their perch’, so to speak.

Advertisements

Erica’s Casserole

Hi, folks! While I’m busy moving house, enjoy this little recipe! The method came down to me through my mother’s family, so far as I can remember, and I have absolutely no idea where the name came from. In any case, this is a good winter warmer dish that’s fairly quick and easy to make.

Continue reading

Moving house

I will be moving house next week. Consequently, my availability for proofreading work will be erratic for a time. My projected ability to take on proofreading work is as follows:

  • Week beginning 19th October: unavailable
  • Week beginning 26th October: contactable by email in the mornings, from around 10.00 to 13.00 or thereabouts. Able to work on projects offline.
  • Week beginning 2nd November: I should have an internet connection completely set up during this week, so I hope to be back to business as usual by Friday 6th November or thereabouts.

I will update this blog appropriately with any relevant and significant developments. I will also schedule a series of posts to cover three weeks’ worth of updates.

Some thoughts on the preparation of pork and gammon

A few random musings, since meat has been on my mind a lot recently…

  • Gammon is basically pork from a pig’s hind leg, cured in a particular way.
  • General heuristic (rule of thumb) for roasting or oven-baking cuts of meat from any part of a pig is 30 mins/lb (imperial pound) of meat and 30 mins over, all at 180 Celsius, plus 20-30 mins resting time (for joints rather than steaks or chops) once you’ve taken it out of the oven, to allow the meat to re-tenderise and the juices to redistribute themselves through the meat. Ask a good butcher for advice on specific types of joint.
  • Never, ever eat pig meat raw — like chicken, it’s best to make sure it’s done all the way through before serving.
  • If using a bacon or gammon joint (large lump of meat), place it in a saucepan with enough water to cover the meat completely and boil it for 30-60 minutes, depending on the size and saltiness of the joint. Skim off the grubby-looking froth at intervals; when this starts turning white, the meat should be ready for the next stage. This pre-boiling will help the tenderness and remove much of the salt in the joint, making it more palatable.
  • Honey-mustard (as a sauce or glaze), apples, pineapple — these are all good accompaniments to pork (though not all at the same time!). Honey-mustard goes best as a glaze on a roast, apples/apple sauce can accompany a roast or a casserole, and pineapple+oven baked gammon steak=gustatory heaven!
  • A good recipe for a special occasion:
    • Take a good-sized pork or gammon joint and trim off the skin with as much fat attached as you wish. Use what you trim off for pork scratchings (tips here: www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/food/2010/08/starting-from-scratch-how-do-y.shtml and here: www.bbc.co.uk/food/programmes/b00tcz94).
    • Pre-boil the trimmed joint, as described above.
    • Transfer the joint, fat-side uppermost, to a rack in a roasting tin and score it diagonally, going first in one direction and then the other. Press cloves into the points where the scored lines intersect. Cover this side of the meat in a thick layer of dark muscovado sugar.
    • Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius and cook your meat as described in the second bullet point, basting occasionally with a citrus fruit juice (orange is good). Once it’s finished in the oven, allow to rest and serve with potatoes — mashed, roasted or dauphinoise all work well.