167 internautes sur 175 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
J. V. Lewis
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Jane Grigson wrote the fundamental overview of charcuterie, and, under her influence, Fergus Henderson shared a handful of incredibly delicious recipes out of the charcuterie tradition. Filling the gap between them, as I see it, is Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie, an excellent, balanced, enthusiastic cookbook that steers home cooks into the fundamentals of meat preparations. The book is encouraging evidence that a significant number of Americans have awakened to the pleasures of well-prepared meat. This isn't a fringe publication: it is a beautifully-designed, well-written, premium production. And it's about time.
This book does something fundamentally right: it completely eschews the Joy of Cooking model of everything-under-one-roof cookbooks. It assumes that the reader has focused interests and is dedicated to food. It acknowledges that the food trades were [and sometimes still are] highly technical, and best performed by specialists. Though we might as well give up the possibility of becoming first-class charcutiers unless we're willing to give up our careers and pursue it full-time, we can find some real satisfaction in a book like this. It presents, in a clear, well-organized, concise format, the wisdom of a great charcutier, explained by a great writer. That wisdom, those years of experience, is evident in the clearest way once you begin using this book: the recipes are easy to follow, well-suited to the home kitchen, and, happily, result in meat products that are better than anything you can buy in an American supermarket. Far better. Even the more daunting preparations, the ones involving aging and cold-smoking, for example, prove to be remarkably accessible and easy. Some will take more space than you or I have in the kitchen, but there are many recipes that produce amazing food with surprisingly little effort. The beef Chicago-style hot dogs are pretty quick once you have everything lined up, and they are so much better than store-bought dogs that you will hardly believe the difference. Some other recipes require more elaborate set-ups, even dedicated smokers and dedicated meat grinders, but there is plenty here that's accessible to the average home cook with the average kitchen. The biggest challenge, as usual, is finding the right cuts of meat to do these recipes justice. Count on making substitutions, and hope that some young person finds this book in time to begin his apprenticeship to the likes of Brian Polcyn, and returns to open shop in your neighborhood. Have the cardiologist over to dinner. Live a little.
If you order this book, be sure to consider Jane Grigson's Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery and Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast, both of which I have reviewed for Amazon.
159 internautes sur 183 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
`Charcuterie' by leading culinary journalist Michael Ruhlman and Charcuterie expert and chef, Brian Poleyn is the sort of book foodies should really be buying instead of the long parade of celebrity chef cookbooks to which we have been treated for the last several years. This joins on my shelf some other recent books on specialized cooking techniques such as Beth Hensperger's `Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook' and James Peterson's classic work on `Sauces'.
Before we go any further, you may want to get permission from your cardiologist to even open this book, as it is dedicated almost exclusively to techniques which make heavy use of both salt and fat. But even if both of these things are `streng verboten' from your diet, you will still get great pleasure from learning about this very, very old technique for food preservation and flavoring.
It struck me that the range of mastery with this technique seems to be almost the same as that of leavened bread. More exactly, it's greatest range lies in a band running through the center of Europe, sandwiched between the northern dominance of butter and the southern realm of king olive. One can almost plot a line from Spanish hams (Serrano) to Bayonne hams and other Charcuterie of southwestern France (see Paula Wolfert's great book on the subject) to the procuitto of Parma and San Daniele and the great Salume techniques of northern Italy to the sausages of Germany and their Westphalian hams. I hypothesize that this all arose out of the conjunction of the European hog raising tradition with the availability of salt from the Mediterranean. All this is pure conjecture, but it certainly frames the issue neatly, as the primacy of pork stops dead at the borders of Islam with their prohibitions against eating pork and their access to less abundant salt sources (The Mediterranean happens to be a lot saltier than the broader oceans beyond Europe).
One of the more interesting facts I discovered in this book is that pig husbandry originated with the Celts who taught it to the Romans. While other meats such as poultry and fatty fish have been traditionally raw material of Charcuterie techniques, it is the pig that rules in this world. This is because lard is much lighter (less saturated) than suet (beef fat) and there is a greater variety of flavor in the meat from one cut of the pig to the next. One aspect of the difference between lard and suet is that the former is really healthier since it is less highly saturated, but don't quote me as an authority on this to your doctor.
The heart and soul of Charcuterie is in the preparation of fresh and cured sausages, cured ham, terrines, pates, and confits. The stars are the pig and the duck. The lingua franca is fat, salt, and smoke. I will not argue with these experts on the sense of the word `Charcuterie', but I suspect they bring in a lot more material than many other authorities would include. The Larousse Gastronomique, for example, defines `Charcuterie' as techniques applied to products based on pork meat of offal. The authors choose to extend the term to include virtually all preservation techniques based on fat, salt, and smoke such as smoked and salted fish. They even take it so far as to include some products based on fermentation such as pickles and sauerkraut. None of this diminishes the value of the book. In fact, it makes the book more interesting, albeit just a tad less true to tradition. This drawing outside the lines also includes a very good essay on the techniques of brining that not only involves non-piggy meats; they also involve techniques that have nothing to do with preservation.
In other ways the authors, especially wordsmith Ruhlman, also show that they are relying heavily on the writings of others rather than having become an expert in the field themselves. For example, much of the chapter on salt is taken, with full credit being given, from Mark Kurlansky's excellent books on `Salt' and `Cod'. I was especially tickled when Ruhlman described salt as an especially concentrated form of the elements sodium and chloride. Chloride is not an element, but the ionized form of chlorine. And, aside from health concerns, the fact that salt is composed of sodium and chlorine is virtually irrelevant to culinary discussions. Salt, from a culinary point of view, is a basic ingredient.
I was positively tickled when Ruhlman stated that the methods of Charcuterie are NOT meant for quick cooking. He makes no bones about the fact that almost all Charcuterie techniques take a lot of time and a lot of attention to detail. This reinforces my analogy between Charcuterie and yeast baking.
The authors make a great case for the important answer to the question on why Charcuterie techniques are still used today in the age of freezing, vacuum packing, and refrigeration. The long and the short of it is the fact that sausages and ham and bacon and terrines and pates and confits taste so darn good. One may also ask the question of the survival of this technique an environment where fat and salt are tools of the devil. Like caffinated coffee, chocolate, and wine, deep research would probably show that Charcuterie products in moderation are also good for you. The only aspect of the Charcuterie technique that may have real health concerns is the substance hiding behind the innocent name `yellow salt'. This is not sodium chloride, but a combination of nitrates and nitrites, added to maintain color in preserved meats.
As I said at the outset, this book is probably more valuable to the dedicated foodie than two Nobu cookbooks and the collected works of Brillat-Savarin. The recipes for terrines and pates and the great technique illustrations are worth the price of admission. Both will become immediately more familiar if you realize that a meat loaf is merely an example of these techniques.
Excellent reading, too!