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Meat, Poultry and Game

Salumi

This cookbook was reviewed by Carol a staff member of The Daring Kitchen. Carol also interviewed Chef Brian Polcyn. The interview can be found directly following the book review.

The food culture in America is undergoing a remarkable transformation. Consumers are demanding a better selection of fresh, pesticide free, organic, free-range, grass fed natural products. Farmers’ markets and community supported agricultural organizations (CSAs) have grown dramatically over the last decade as more Americans seek to engage with farmers for the foodstuffs to feed their families. The push may have started with restaurant chefs and local 100-Mile Clubs, groups that seek to prepare meals using ingredients sourced “locally” within 100 miles, but it is slowly moving into the mainstream. The growing online internet food blogger phenomena has contributed to this as has the recession, which sent home chefs returning to managing food budgets with cheaper cuts of meat and a return to comfort foods such as homey stews with local meats and vegetables.

It is against this backdrop, that Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn realized that American households were one generation away from losing their ability to preserve meat as their fathers did and as a result decided to collaborate and write about how to do exactly that – Charcuterie: The Salting, Smoking and Curing of Meat published in 2005 by W.W. Norton. I had an opportunity to interview Brian Polcyn, one of the co-authors. Polcyn told me that originally the book was turned down by five publishers as being too niche until it was finally accepted by Norton Publishers– the fair turnaround is that the book continues to be in print today with over 120,000 copies sold.

Entertain Like a Texas Gentleman

This cookbook was reviewed by David and Karen of Twenty-Fingered Cooking.

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I opened up the package from the Daring Kitchen crew to find the stars-and-stripes-and-beer-studded cover of Entertain Like a Texas Gentleman by David Harap staring back at me. Full disclosure: I am not from Texas. I do not want to be from Texas. And, while I do try to generally be nice and respectful of people, being called a “gentleman” just makes me feel old. So, in short, I’m definitely not this book’s target audience.

That being said, however, I can’t argue with good food, and to use a bit of Texas slang I just found on the internet, the food in this cookbook is larrupin’! Harap’s recipes look and taste out of this world. He has a knack for taking ingredients that you can’t possibly picture being on the same plate together, and making the most scrumptiously delicious meal out of them that you can imagine.

First, a bit on the overall organization and design of the cookbook. Each chapter is designed as a full-course meal or spread of food for all occasions, from the “Scotch Tasting Affair” with the guys, to a long, detailed “Romantic Dinner” with the woman of your dreams. Each chapter includes a bit of advice for the meal at the beginning, and gives you lots of space at the end of the chapter to scribble down your own notes on the meal. The back of the book gives complete shopping lists for every chapter, so you can just cut them out and run to the store.

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