One-animal books

It used to be that if you wanted to find that familiar diagram of a bovine, carved up with dotted lines into "rump," "loin," "plate," "brisket", you'd find yourself heading back to the Joy of Cooking, which was the last word in pretty much everything.  Nowadays, the Joy of Cooking--for all its many virtues--isn't the last word in anything, and primal-cut books abound.

Although many of us are fascinated by whole-animal, nose-to-tail preparation, not all that many of us are actually doing it.  Yet somehow the bar has been raised, and knowing a good deal more detail about your meat and where it comes from (and what does "round" mean anyway?) seems to matter more than it did before.

Chickens, of course, have been commanding their own cookbooks for decades.  They've been evolving, though.  The older ones offer endless variations on what you can do with boneless breast.  The most recent ones start with incubating the egg, and what sort of feed you should be using in your homemade chicken coop.

The pig may have the most devoted following, with every year bringing another offering or two:  Pork and Sons, Bruce Aidell's Complete Book of Pork, The Whole Hog, Lard, and if you want to stretch it, A Girl and her Pig.  And that's not even counting the many barbecue books that are essential odes to the pig too.

Perhaps the clearest indication that the single-animal cookbook has arrived is Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese, by mainstream cookbook team Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein.  And while many, including myself, may not have access to goat meat or milk, it seemed perfectly natural for somebody to devote an entire book to the subject.

How about you?  What's your favorite animal, on the table or in the book?  And while we're at it, what's your favorite way to serve it forth?


  • ellabee  on  4/3/2012 at 3:12 PM

    Lamb! Buying a half lamb yearly from a farmer friend has taught me quite a bit about cuts and nose-to-tail.

  • tsusan  on  4/4/2012 at 10:57 AM

    I know what you mean! The first year I went in on a beefer I took the heart and was totally at a loss. Same problem with lamb tongues and livers. (story here:

  • Harvestmoon  on  4/4/2012 at 7:21 PM

    Wow, we have a lot of PET goats...they are super intelligent and sweet. They know their names....have to stick with goat cheese, can't eat them!

  • Queezle_Sister  on  4/10/2012 at 9:16 AM

    I'm on the edge here... a vegetarian who has accepted meat as a locavore. But when the pozole I wanted to cook called for half a cow head, the "ew" factor made me close the book.

  • tsusan  on  4/10/2012 at 3:49 PM

    Harvestmoon, I sympathize. I'm getting my first chickens this year, and since they are probably going to get nicknames, they are probably not going to get eaten. And queezle-sister, I could not eat a half a cow head either! I'm an omnivore, not a hemi-bovo-cephalovore...!

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