As a food lover, home cook, restaurant reviewer and food writer, I cannot get enough red meat.
So much so that sometimes I'll even have it for breakfast.
And often times, at dinner too.
So when my eyes fell upon Beef and Other Bovine Matters by John Torode, I knew that it had the potential to be one of my go-to books that I use throughout the week to comprise my menus.
But you can't judge it by name alone. After all, how many times have I had to tell people that the restaurant that they've deemed "great," simply based on the menu and look of the place, does not live up to the hype.
So I took some time and read it from front to back. I adore the size and the simple layout. I love that nothing has a gazillion ingredients and that the instructions are straight ahead and easy to follow, but friendly and personable as well. The line drawings and short descriptions of various breeds near the beginning is a great introduction to these remarkable creatures. And there are some "basics" that John wants you to know, such as the difference between a bull, steer, heifer, cow and veal. Actually, I think I'll pose this question at my next dinner party and see how many answer correctly. It's not as easy as you might think...
But here's where it gets good - the recipes. John's got a 100 of 'em and covers everything from stocks, soups and gravy to pies, stews and braises. There are chapters for the hardcore lovers like Offal and Sweets, but I think that no matter where you are in your culinary adventure, you are bound to find some gems that you can't help but make time and again.
Recently I took my 4 food book clubs to a French restaurant where people debated over the French Onion soup. Theirs was way better. It was the best they'd ever had. Well, I vote that John's French Onion Soup with Gruyere Croute would please all of their palates. It's rich, but not heavy and extremely satisfying. Especially in this cooler weather we're experiencing still.
I love Beef Carpaccio and John offers 8 different ways to prepare it. I also love the recipe here for Steak Tartate. You'd better believe that these are making their way into my dinner party menu rotation!
I've only made Corned Beef from scratch once, so this is a good opportunity to try it again. The simplicity of the ingredients and instructions helps keep this from being an overwhelming task. And if you've found the idea of making Sweetbreads too intimidating in the past, John walks you through it with great ease. You'll wonder why you waited so long, and you'll be presenting platters of Fried Sweetbreads, Peas & Pancetta and Sweetbread Wellingtons in no time!
If you're looking for lunch or dinner options that you can whip up quickly, there are plenty here - Quick & Easy Thai Beef Salad, Cevapcici (Yugoslavian Sausage), Cornish Pasties and of course Steak can be done in a jiff too (just take a sec to read John's "How to Cook a Great Steak," p. 126-127 and you'll be all set!).