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.


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