Book List

Gourmet Butcher's Guide to Meat

Vermont butcher Cole Ward has written a much-needed guide for meat lovers.

By Robb Walsh January 30, 2014

Devoted carnivores will appreciate the The Gourmet Butcher's Guide to Meat: How to Source it Ethically, Cut it Professionally and Prepare it Properly. This new hardcover includes one of the most comprehensive discussions of cattle breeds and beef quality I have seen in print. It also provides an excellent explanation of the USDA grading system and how Wagyu beef has changed the game. 

Celebrity master butcher Cole Ward, who once cut meat in Hollywood, now works in his home state of Vermont. While he makes a strong case for humane treatment of animals and praises lots of small family farms, he also debunks buzzwords like "grass-fed" that don't really mean anything. While his sympathies lie with heritage breeders and old-fashioned craft butchers, his coverage of the conventional meat industry, hormones and additives, and the industrial approach to meat cutting is straightforward and honest. 

The section on home butchery is extensive, addressing such issues as when to use a knife and when to use a saw, meat grinding, sausage making, how to wrap meat like a butcher, and meat storage tips. There are eight pages on how to select, sharpen and hold a knife. The book also comes with a 2-CD Butchery Course insert that I look forward to viewing soon. 

The Gourmet Butcher's book was recently released by Chelsea Green Press of White River Junction, Vermont–a tiny press that also published last year's blockbuster food book, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, a James Beard Cookbook award winner.


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