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The Art of Charcuterie by the CIA


Chris Hennes
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I just got an e-mail from the Culinary Institute of America announcing their new charcuterie textbook, The Art of Charcuterie:

A comprehensive, professional-level guide to the making of sausages and cured meats

The art of charcuterie has been practiced since the 15th century, but in recent years interest has escalated in this artisanal specialty. Pâtés, cured meats, terrines, and gourmet sausages are staples at upscale restaurants as well as cocktail and dinner parties. Modern charcutiers have introduced new and exciting techniques and flavors for delicious (and even healthy) charcuterie.

Brought to you by the experts at The Culinary Institute of America, The Art of Charcuterie covers every aspect of this rediscovered culinary art: curing and brining, smoking, terrines, pâtés, sausages, herbs and seasonings, sauces and relishes, and kitchen sanitation.

  • Features in-depth explanations of tools of the trade, kitchen equipment, and ingredients
  • Includes technical and nutritional explanations of all the meats used in the charcuterie kitchen and how to best prepare them
  • Heavily illustrated with 200 full-color photographs, including techniques and finished items

The Art of Charcuterie is the ultimate companion for professionals and dedicated home cooks who want to master both traditional and contemporary techniques.

Anyone know anything more about this book? Planning on buying it?

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I did NOT know about this book but I find their books to be excellent references and also they have many very good recipes to use as guides (though I nearly always make adjustments). I own their Garde Manger books which covers some charcuterie in a very useful a number of recipes with left out steps or ingredients throughout their books (I also have Baking and Pastry and Cooking. I will definitely buy this book!

I've got one body and one life, I'm going to take care of them.

I'm blogging as the Fabulous Food Fanatic here.

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I agree—I've made several of the charcuterie recipes from Garde Manger and had very good luck with them. This e-mail was the first I'd heard of the new book, but based on the table of contents and index on Amazon.com I went ahead and ordered myself a Christmas present.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I got my copy yesterday and have thumbed through it: I must admit to being quite disappointed so far, both with the choice of content, and with the way it is presented. There are many examples of areas where I think the content is unnecessary in a book written to the audience of potential charcuteriers. For example, most of chapter two is dedicated to describing the flavor of various herbs and spices. It even includes a "helpful" chart on which sausages they are used in: apparently paprika is only used in Italian Sausage... who knew? Much of the book feels like it was laid out first, and then information was added to fill in sections that the designer thought would look good on that page.

The book contains a large amount of food safety information, some useful and some not. The extensive listing and description of the various possible bacterial infections is interesting in an academic sense, but contains little practical information other than "prevent cross-contamination," "cook everything to death," and "chill quickly." It treats trichnosis as a very serious threat, although it is now exceedingly rare in the US. And there, at the very end, is a single paragraph on "harmful molds in sausages." It contains no actual useful information, simply instructing you to use a mold inhibitor to prevent its growth. The remainder of the chapter is a copy-and-paste job from every other Food Production Safety 101 textbook on the planet. I would think that at a culinary school a course like that would be a prerequisite for entry into a charcuterie class: no need for it here.

The chapter on forcemeats is large and well-illustrated, and covers exactly the same material as the Garde Manger book.The CIA seems to have a real fascination with terrines. The chapter on sausages contains some useful checklists for sausage production, and a nice discussion of the various types of casing. The recipes included are uninspiring, however, and there is virtually no coverage of dry- and semi-dry sausages: a few recipes and a few cursory comments, but no useful, practical advice. They follow up with a quite extensive chapter on condiments. Finally, they include a number of completely superfluous conversion tables.

This book is nearly completely replaceable by Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie; add the CIA's Garde Manger if you want to make terrines, and definitely pick up the Marianski's The Art of Making Fermented Sausages if you are interested in dry- and semi-dry sausages.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I guess I better look at this book first, thanks for the review!

As for canceling an order with amazon, you can do that any time before it enters the packing/shipping process, just go to your account and cancel it. You can also call them, the number is somewhere in the contact info or just call 18005551212 and ask for amazon customer service, that should still work.

Seems like a very odd selection of topics, I'd not expect to find info on the flavor of herbs and such. Totaly useless filler IMO.

Maybe they left the slow and dry aged ones out as it's a book for culinary school, where they probably don't have time to wait a month or 6 for something to ripen? But then the title is misleading.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Oliver, I don't think it's a textbook. Rather, I think it's trying to capitalize on the Ruhlman/Polcyn popularity and aim for that "professional home cook" readership CIA sometimes targets. The inclusion of oddly rudimentary charts like those bizarre herb/spice pages Chris Hennes mentions; several pages dominated by diagrams indicating the different parts of a grinder in a poor imitation of the Dorling Kindersley design; and recipes that are hard to fathom (buffalo wing sausages?!?): it doesn't add up to a textbook. Not sure what it does add up to.... More as I explore.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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THANK-YOU CHRIS!!

You've saved me (and many of us I suspect) from wasting our time and money on this book. I like Amazon's "look inside" feature for books but I don't use it as often as I should, especially with professional/trade-type publications, especially from reputable sources. I assume they will be exactly as advertised and of uniformly high caliber. Thanks to your reservations I did use it and was quite disappointed. Your observation of "cut and paste" publishing is dead-on and despite the lush illustrations, way too much of the book seems to be filled with standard-issue charts, graphs and food safety caveats (inspired by lawyers rather than chefs, I'll bet).

You da man. Thanks for taking one for the team.

(any upsides from your purchase since your initial observations? had a chance to try anything practical from it?)

Edited by xxchef (log)

The Big Cheese

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(any upsides from your purchase since your initial observations? had a chance to try anything practical from it?)

Well, the chapter on terrines is quite lovely: its real flaw is that it duplicates the content from the Garde Manger book, which I already owned. If you don't own Garde Manger and are primarily interested in terrines, this books will probably serve you just fine. While I love to eat (some) terrines, I don't make many of them, so that isn't much value to me. I bought the book for the sausage chapter: after all, it has dry-cured sausages on its cover! You know what they say about judging a book by its cover...

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'll be interesting to see what people think about it after having it a while. I used their salmon-smoking recipe to good effect over the holidays, and I liked both method and seasoning. However, the method produces about four times more seasoned curing salt than you need. Makes me wonder if the conversion from industrial/professional production recipes to smaller ones will have similar flaws.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'll be interesting to see what people think about it after having it a while. I used their salmon-smoking recipe to good effect over the holidays, and I liked both method and seasoning. However, the method produces about four times more seasoned curing salt than you need. Makes me wonder if the conversion from industrial/professional production recipes to smaller ones will have similar flaws.

I have this book and three others in the CIA professional series, including Baking & Pastry, Garde Manger and The Professional Chef. I have found editing problems like this in all of these books including incomplete recipe conversion, ingredients left out and steps in recipes omitted. I wrote to the publisher and received no response. I still like the books, especially Garde Manger, but they are a bit frustrating to use because of this. You just have to review all recipes carefully before following them and if you suspect an issue, trust yourself! I would love it if we could find someone at the CIA to respond to these issues, too.

By the way, I don't know about the Charcuterie book but the other three books are, in fact, used as text books at the CIA.

I've got one body and one life, I'm going to take care of them.

I'm blogging as the Fabulous Food Fanatic here.

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Well, thanks Chris for the useful review of this text. I will now probably remove it from must-have wish list. For terrines, I use "Charcuterie" and/or Life's "Terrines, Pates and Galantines" and was hoping this one would be a more in depth ref about charcuterie, esp. aged and dry-cured meats and sausages. I'll just wait for the upcoming Ruhlman/Polcyn book about that subject then.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I'll just wait for the upcoming Ruhlman/Polcyn book about that subject then.

Which upcoming Ruhlman/Polcyn book ?

I believe it's coming out this fall. It's a followup to Charcuterie, but the focus seems to be on cured and dry-aged products if I am not mistaken. He talked about it on his blog a couple of times like in this post here: Salume in Northern Italy.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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