Monday, May 25, 2015

The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook by Steven Lamb

book cover
The River Cottage
Curing and Smoking Handbook
by Steven Lamb

ISBN-13: 9781607747871
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: April 14, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Inside Cover:
This accessible, compact guide is bursting with essential information for sourcing, butchering, smoking, and curing the whole hog, cow, chicken, fish, and vegetable. Steven Lamb, a respected charcuterie authority, breaks down the traditional methods of curing and smoking to their most simple procedures, with abundant visual resources and 50 recipes.

This thorough, timely handbook begins with a detailed breakdown of tools (from sharp knives to sausage stuffers, for the gadget-loving cook) and an explanation of the preservation process, including a section on which cuts are best for various methods of curing and smoking. Lamb then dives into each method--from dry-curing to fermentation, brining to smoking--in a straightforward, comprehensive manner. And for each technique, there are many delicious recipes, including chorizo Scotch eggs, hot smoked mackerel, prosciutto, and dry-cured bacon.

My Review:
The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook is a "how-to" book on curing and smoking your own meat. The author spent 133 pages on the how-to aspects and 113 pages on the recipes (which contained further how-to information), so this isn't just a cook book in disguise. I appreciated that he described ways to cure and smoke meat using equipment we may already have rather than sending us off to buy a lot of expensive tools. He did provide information on buying if you prefer to buy specialized, ready-to-use equipment.

The information was presented in a way that made me feel like I understood what would be going on during the process and that it was something I could do--and do safely. The author lives in England, but the book has been modified so that Americans can use it without having to convert everything. However, Americans will have to find a locally available brand of no-additives salt and so on rather than just use the exact same things that he does.

The book contained some step-by-step pictures with the recipes and in the section on butchering. There were also pictures of different types of cured and smoked meats, of the equipment, and to illustrate the curing and smoking methods. Many of the recipes focused on pork, but there were some for other meats, fish, and a few for vegetables and for cheese.

I have some minor experience with butchering and have seen some of these things done in person or on video. Overall, I'd say this was a good book for someone like me--someone familiar with these ideas but who needed the details before trying it for themselves.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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