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The Best Meat Cookbooks: Chefs Pick Their Favorites

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Welcome once again to the Eater Library, in which chefs and other culinary professionals recommend their favorite cookbooks from their particular specialty.


Today, chefs of meat-centric restaurants across the country recommend the best meat cookbooks out there, just in case you didn't get enough meat last week. Chefs including Spike Gjerde (Woodberry Kitchen, Baltimore), Seamus Mullen (Tertulia, NYC), Greg and Gabi Denton (Ox, Portland), and Chad Colby (Chi Spacca, LA) have recommended a smattering of books for casual and professional meat masters alike. (Vegetarian? Perhaps you'd care for some cocktails, or pastry?) Below, the Eater Library: Meat.

[Photo: Dusan Vuksanovic]

Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen, Baltimore

The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer by Joel Salatin

A book that I love and that has contributed to our approach at Woodberry Kitchen is Joel Salatin's The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer. Salatin's practices at [Virginia farm] Polyface remain the gold standard for the thoughtful production of meat and poultry in our region, and this book provides an account of how it's done in Salatin's inimitable voice.
Buy at Amazon

[Photo: Seamus Mullen / Facebook]

Seamus Mullen, Tertulia, New York City

River Cottage Meat by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli

Two books I love to reference when it comes to meat cooking are Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Meat and Paul Bertolli's Cooking by Hand. While River Cottage Meat is a terrific tome on ethical meat eating, pasture-rearing and butchery, and full of incredibly fascinating information, it's a little light on technique. Cooking by Hand more than makes up for the technique. While this is not a meat-specific book, there is so much wisdom when it comes to curing, brining and roasting meats that it's a must for any serious cook.
Buy River Cottage Meat on Amazon, Buy Cooking by Hand at Amazon

[Photo: Avila]

Gabrielle Quinonez Denton, Ox, Portland

Au Pied de Cochon: The Album by Martin Picard

One of my all time favorite meaty cookbooks is the original Au Pied De Cochon cookbook. It is unapologetic in its lack of restraint, and I dig that. The design is unique and fun, and the dishes featured are at once rustic and decadent. And while it showcases the great sense of humor of its author, the recipes are serious in their technique.
Buy at Amazon

[Photo: Avila]

Greg Denton, Ox, Portland

Charlie Trotter's Seafood by Charlie Trotter

Charlie Trotter's Seafood by the late and great chef Charlie Trotter. I know what you are thinking: "Really! I asked you to pick one, from millions of meat based books, and you choose a seafood book! Douche!" At least that's what I would say, but truly, it is one of the most influential books about meat that I have ever read. Let me explain.

The chapters are categorized by wines, starting with bubbles and ending with big, bold reds. The food recipes mirror that progression in the book by starting with light, fresh, raw and crisp, then moving towards heavy and rich. Somewhere in the middle of the book he starts to use meat as accompaniments to fish. This blew my mind! Not only did it open my mind to what you could do with a "Surf & Turf," but it showed me how even the richest meats could benefit from being balanced with textures, temperature, brininess and spice. One of the best cookbooks, hands down!


Chad Colby, Chi Spacca, Los Angeles

Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli

The entire book is brilliant, but the chapter on braising defines culturally how Italians extract flavor from a braise, a roast, and sauce, and how it differs form contemporary French cooking. I reference the book's recipes, but mostly I reference it for a philosophy on cooking.
Buy at Amazon

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