Meat, meat, meat, meat!

Is cooking meat the first great hurdle of any omnivorous cook?  I think it's between that and baking.  I think my progression was pretty typical: first boneless chicken breast, then ground beef, then pork chops, then whole chickens and chicken parts, then ground pork, then the rest.  I didn't get round to beef cuts until a few years in.  (And I'm still not great at game, organ meats, and off cuts.)

This month it seems that America's Test Kitchen (Cook's Illustrated Meat Book), DK Publishing (The Meat Cookbook), and Atria Books (Meat: Everything You Need to Know) are all angling for readers at just that culinary developmental stage - let's call it the Borderline Beef stage.  Because they all feature BEEF on their covers: I see what looks like an eye round roast, a grilled skirt steak (yum!), and a porterhouse steak. All are heavy reference tomes in the 3-4-pound range (about the weight of a center-cut rib roast. Coincidence?  I think not.)

It's a little strange given that the price of beef is at historic highs thanks to climate change.  We can speculate on the reasons - the ascension of the Paleo diet? the ostracization of carbs?  But when it comes right down to it, I suspect that what these books are all banking on is that moment of insecurity when you first face the high heat with a joint of red, red meat, which, in itself, cost as much as all the breakfasts you were going to eat all week.

How did you first learn to cook meat? and would you have wanted to have one of these Big Books by your side?  Would you want one now?

3 Comments

  • warner  on  10/28/2014 at 2:09 PM

    I have the third and will be looking at the other two. Ruhlman's How to Roast will be first though; and then The Meat Cookbook.

  • wester  on  10/29/2014 at 2:58 AM

    Cooking meat was certainly not my first hurdle. I think I did not even bother with anything beyond chops before I was 40 or so, although I did know how to roast a chicken when I was a child. Then I became vegetarian, and after that vegetables stayed the center of the meal for quite a while. But then the larger cuts of meat did start to beckon (and yes, it helped that I went low-carb). At the moment I am working on those (roasted my first duck 2 days ago) and on organ meat. I do have a few big meat books such as the River Cottage Meat Book, but I find I usually turn to others for introductions - Zuni Café for the roast chicken, Jennifer McLagan for pork belly and organ meat.

  • Rinshin  on  10/29/2014 at 11:59 PM

    I really look at beef very differently now. I was never a big meat eater, but now much less so and what I want is the quality over quantity. I search for prime and wagyu to have every few months. I also no longer buy ground beef and we grind chuck on sale. Between all the protein, we probably eat more fish and seafood followed by pork.

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