I think Ruhlman's book is the best and safest tutorial.
But some of the recipes are hardly authentic.
However, I think its unquestionably the best starting point.
Jane Grigson's book is great, but, wow, she was very heavy-handed (by modern standards) with the saltpetre (nitrate).
Excellent for background reading, recipe inspiration and putting things in a historical (and geographic) context though.
I really like Bertolli's book, but I regret to admit that as yet, I haven't used it much
"Preserved" covers lots of things (beyond meat), and consequently nothing gets covered in great detail. No really major horrors though. Could be all the non-geek needs to get started - and hooked.
I was a bit disappointed with Kutas' Sausage Recipes - which is grossly unfair because it is actually just that, a book of recipes (or formulas) for sausages, written for an american audience. But that's about all
I was even more disappointed when I saw Peacock's "The Sausage Book"
because of the frankly sloppy approach that it advocates, and the amount of padding that can be inserted to turn a few pages of real content into a book-product. No thanks!
Admirable as many of Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall's aims might be, his charcuterie stuff is very hit or miss. Many of his cures seem to be based on traditional cures for preservation, rendering things terribly salty. What makes it an issue is that this extreme saltiness isn't remarked upon in the text. One brine even listed a salt concentration that is actually beyond saturation!
And then there is the DRIED RAW chorizo recipe which includes no
nitrate/nitrite and no
starter culture either. I remain convinced that this is a potentially dangerous mistake - which I think probably results from confusion with a recipe for a FRESH chorizo, which would be cooked before eating.
Interestingly, the exact same 'confusion' with Chorizo (no starter or cure in a sausage for drying and eating raw) is repeated in Darina Allen's new "Forgotten Skills of Cooking"
which unsurprisingly lists HFW's "Meat" in the Bibliography. Forgotten Skills has some nice recipes for using the various products, but needs other books for support on the basics. For example, the Foraging section discusses various attractive recipes for using Alexanders, but has precious little on distinguishing them from other, rather similar looking but poisonous
I'm still a bit ambivalent about Walker's "Practical Food Smoking"
. The 'trade-qualification-textbook' style is ghastly. I doubt it is up to date on regulations, but it certainly indicates how commercial smoking operations have to work. Again small, cheap and quite a lot of real content.
A little book that I really do like is Erlandson's "Home Cooking & Curing"
which is actually about smoking rather than US "BBQ" cooking.
Its short (not padded with waffle), cheap and authoritative. What's not to like?
I'm still a bit ambivalent about . The 'trade-qualification-textbook' style is ghastly. I doubt it is up to date on regulations, but it certainly indicates how commercial smoking operations have to work. Again small, cheap and quite a lot of real content.
My preferred recipe for Merguez has its origin in one of the Moro
books by Sam & Sam Clark (just checked - it was in Casa Moro). Highly recommended beyond the few bits of charcuterie.
There are all sorts of odd snippets that one gleans online, but outstanding must be the USDA Meat Processing Inspectors Handbook - and its discussion of the calculations of allowable Nitrate and Nitrite levels in cured products. Quite apart from what a safe actual level in food might turn out to be, its eye-opening to look at some of the simplistic assumptions underlying the formal calculations of what the content is to be declared
to be. PDF for free download: http://www.fsis.usda...ives/7620-3.pdf
If nitrate is used in conjunction with nitrite, the limits of the two compounds
are calculated separately and the permitted maximum of each may be used.
To appreciate the full wisdom of this, you have to recognise that nitrate doesn't actively cure the meat at all until it has itself been degraded to nitrite ... And that they are not talking about the residues after curing (which is what you eat), but instead they are referring to the amount permitted to be added to the meat at the start of the cure!
Oh, and this is what I should have asked for for Christmas: "Manual of a Traditional Bacon Curer"
I'll just have to get it for myself now ...
Edited by heidih, 14 August 2010 - 04:08 PM.
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan