“Meat: A Kitchen Education” by James Petersen
Review by Dappered Arts and Culture Correspondent Ben Madeska. Above pic sourced from the photo, “Boneless Chuck Roast” also by Ben Madeska. You can see more of his work here.
You should know how to cook, and learning to cook meat well is a good place to start.
It’s not hard to cook meat at home, but not all cuts of meat are the same and different cuts call for different methods. If your cooking begins and ends with throwing a t-bone on the grill, it’s time to expand your repertoire.
Some recent books about meat seem more interested in trying to teach people home-butchery more than giving you simple, practical advice. “Meat: A Kitchen Education” by James Peterson won’t teach you how to gut a hog, but it will teach you how to carve a turkey, cut up a rabbit, and will walk you through some solid recipes for pretty much any cut you’ll find at your grocery store or famers market.
There are books that cover more ground and go more in-depth (like “how to prepare a pancreas” in-depth) but this is one of the best basic meat cookbooks you’ll find. And in all fairness, it does tell you how to prepare calf brains too (they are “hard to dislike,” apparently).
This book covers basic cooking techniques such as sauteing, braising, and roasting with straightforward tips – the meat turns gray while roasting because the broiler isn’t hot enough, for instance. Petersen explains why certain techniques work better for certain meats. He also gets into slightly more advanced techniques such as larding, preparing a confit, and making your own sausage, giving simple to follow instructions.
The best advice? Buy cheaper meat from an expensive butcher rather than expensive meat from a supermarket.
The best way I’ve found to cook steak: Don’t grill. Rub the steak with salt and cracked pepper and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450. Heat a cast iron skillet until it starts to smoke. Throw on the steak and let it sear for about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the skillet with the steak into the preheated oven for about 4 minutes. Transfer the steak to a plate and let sit for 10 minutes before cutting. Try it with a squeeze of lime.