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Have you ever borrowed a book more than once from the library?
I admit I have done it.
No it wasn't with a novel that I couldn't finish.
It's a cookbook.
Well it's more than a cookbook. It's the guide to everything you want to ever know about meat. And it's written by a company that produces some of, if not the best meat on this plant - Niman Ranch.
I know I am being pretty bold with that title - best book ever written to meat. To me, with my experience reading books on the subject of meat this the one I have connected most with.
The best book is not always written by a Pulitzer prize winner author, been on the New York Times Best Seller List, or won a James Beard award. It's the book that makes a last impacting on your life. And that is why The Niman Ranch Cookbook is the BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN ON MEAT!
Who is Niman Ranch?
Who are these Niman Ranch people that I seem to be so fond of. They started with a ranch near San Francisco in the 1970s. They have expanded to include a network of independent family farmers and ranchers. They are dedicated to treating their animals humanely, practicing sustainability for future generations, and producing high quality, delicious meat.
Niman Ranch meat can be found in stores across the country. They have a lot of different products from different cuts of meat to your cured meats like bacon and ham. Everything I have ever tasted of theirs has not disappointed.
Why the Niman Ranch Cookbook is So Good
When I buy a cookbook, I want a book that is more just recipes. You can find recipes anywhere. I want stories. I want good content. I want to learn. This book fulfills all those wants.
Here are my reasons to get the Niman Ranch Cookbook on your bookshelf.
Beef Cut Pictures
Ever been to in the meat department, looking over all the choices of beef cuts to buy, and find yourself extremely confused? What is a flank steak? Or a London broil? Can I grill a flat iron steak? What cut is best for pot roast? It all starts with knowing where the cut of beef is coming from on the cow.
The book contains brightly colored photos of where each cut comes from on the cow. Study that chart and you'll know what cooking method goes best with each cut, depending on where it comes from on the animal.
The Underappreciated Cuts
I like that the book highlights some of the cuts of meat that go underappreciated like the flat iron steak. The butcher has options on how he carves up the meat, thus can create different cuts based on the way the butcher slices through the meat.
The Photos Rock
The photography in this book will bring you right to the farm. So many good photos. It's fun to just flip through the book and appreciate them. The photography gives you a real sense on how the animals are taken care of. It helps get those nightmarish overcrowded and dirty feed lot images out of my head.
Breeding for Taste
The book talks about how they are breeding for taste. This goes against the trend that we have seen with meat in the last several decades to try and produce it as fast and cheap as possible, without ever considering flavor.
Family Way of Life
Instead of seeing our food as coming from huge companies that resemble more of factory than a farmer, this book helps capture the family life and how meat should be produced.
How the Animals are Raised
The book goes through how all the animals are raised by Niman Ranch farmers and ranchers. See the extra steps they take to raise their animals humanely. And in the end see how it produces a better product.
I felt that after reading this book, I have a better idea of how to shop for meat, even meat that isn't Niman Ranch.
Of Course the Recipes
Here I am talking about a cookbook I haven't even got to the recipes yet. They don't get to them until page 132. The first recipe is for a pastrami sandwich, and it's taken from Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I may be biased since I live near Ann Arbor, and have worked for other Zingerman's businesses during the holiday season, but their sandwiches are among the best in the world. It's worth your money to buy the book just for this recipe alone.
Many of the recipes in the book are taken from delis, magazines, and restaurants. They are all really good recipes, not like the ones you find on those generic recipe websites, that have thousands of recipes on them. Some of my favorite recipes from the book include Danish Pork Burgers with Saltine Crackers, Carna Asada, Pork and Squash Potpie with Cornbread crust, and Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops.
Each Recipe Has a Story
I love my food having a story. I share little stories about food all the time. It's why I created a separate website - Fruits of Their Labor just for that purpose. I appreciate that each recipe comes with a little story. A little background on where it come from.
I also enjoy the little stories that are included throughout the book.
The Cooking Methods
Any cookbook will teach you how to cook. This one does as well. Learn different methods and techniques on how to cook any type of meat. As well as the all important how to carve the meat when done.
You got plenty of reasons to buy this book. I try to not overwhelm my house with books (I got kids so that is hard). Got to limit the number of books I have on my shelves. I can tell you that the Niman Ranch cookbook will always have a spot.
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