Leiths Meat Bible
By Max Clarke & Susan Spaull
ISBN 978 0 7475 9047 7
This 500-page tome, containing more than 450 recipes, is a real tour de force of meat, game and poultry cookery. Knowing that it comes from the Leiths School of Food and Wine stable, which has been producing highly skilled chefs and home cooks for a quarter of a century, you can be sure that it is thorough, reliable and informative.
The first part of Leiths Meat Bible - which is the latest in a series of useful books that include Leiths Vegetable Bible, Leiths Cookery Bible and Leiths Baking Bible - provides the basic techniques for choosing, preparing and cooking meat, including a fascinating chapter on understanding meat. There is also an illustrated guide to the different cuts, advice on how to handle and store raw meat, and easy to follow instructions on every kind of cooking method you will need.
The rest of the book is divided up into each type of meat and includes a wide range of recipes, from the classics, such as a basic beef stew, shepherd's pie and slow-roast pork belly, to dishes that show more flair, including fillet of lamb with artichoke hearts, peas and pistou, duck breasts with whole baked caramelised oranges, and Thai basil pork.
Beyond beef, lamb, pork and chicken, there is a section on a wide range of game dishes, as well as a chapter on exotic meats. So if you are looking for something a little different for your menu, you can dip into recipes for the likes of pan-fried alligator tail steak with lime butter, camel fillet with Châteauneuf-du-Pape and butter jus, or kangaroo, pomegranate and macadamia nut stir-fry.
Particularly useful is the wine suggestion for every dish and tips on what to do when a dish goes wrong. So, if your puff pastry is too tough, leaks fat or has risen poorly, Clarke and Spaull will tell you why.
This comprehensive book is rounded off with useful advice on menu planning, catering quantities and kitchen French.
Leiths Meat Bible is not a pretty, artily produced cookery book, which has become the norm for publishing houses today, but it is a valuable addition to the chef's bookshelf, accurately described by Nigel Slater as "the best friend you can have in the kitchen."