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Book review: Low and Slow, How to cook meat, by Neil Rankin

28 June 2016
Book review: Low and Slow, How to cook meat, by Neil Rankin

Low and Slow: How to Cook Meat

By Neil Rankin

Ebury Press, £25

The title says it all, really. This is an interesting and usable book on cooking meat. The ‘low and slow' gives a clue to the method except, intriguingly, the slow cooking comes first and the high temperature to colour and cause

The only piece of advice that I found controversial was that Rankin doesn't rate resting meat after it's cooked, which is correct for his method, but not for mine. This said, his instructions not only work, but are also wellexplained and completely doable.

The advice on meat quality, such as rare breeds and corn feeding versus grass feeding, show a real knowledge of the subject. And the chapter on steaks has some seriously well-informed tips and explanations.

The recipes tend to be generic with a little twist, so expect beef dripping Yorkshires, bolognaise sauce/ragu, and twice-cooked pork belly, rather than fancy variations on these. I really appreciated this, for it gives the opportunity to absorb the base method, and we can then tinker with the result if we feel the need. I rarely feel the need myself, for when a dish works well, most alterations will detract rather than enhance.

The other focus is barbecueing, something for which the author has quite a reputation. Outdoor cookery has been traduced by crappy bought-in burgers and sausages cooked on gas grills that may as well be indoors for all the

difference they make to flavour.

But Rankin shows how it should be done, including how to light the barbecue, what fuel to use - not just charcoal, but a whole range of woods - and explains how the smoke and heat interact to produce something completely different from what you make in the kitchen. This is a first-rate book written by someone who knows his stuff, and I have a queue of cooks ready to read it. It's a manual, rather than a promotional tool for a wellknown chef, and it is, in fact, the most useful cookbook I have read for some time.

One for the kitchen shelf, not the coffee table.

By Shaun Hill, chef-proprietor, the Walnut Tree, Llanddewi Skirrid, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

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