The Austin Chronicle


Gift guide

By Mick Vann, December 17, 2004, Food

Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork: A Guide to Buying, Storing, and Cooking the World's Favorite Meat

by Bruce Aidells with Lisa Weiss

HarperCollins, 338 pp., $29.95

Bruce Aidells has earned his title as the American master of meat, crafting nine previous cookbooks on the subject as owner/chef of the famous Aidells Sausage Company. With his latest, Aidells explores all things porcine in a style that is accessible to the amateur, yet still appealing for the professional. He uses his past travels and experiences to put together a collection of robust recipes that span the globe, using every cut of pork imaginable. Each method of cooking (braising, roasting, grilling, sautéing, etc.) comes with a master recipe that encourages individual creativity while teaching the basics. He explores the chemistry of brining, the art of the rub and the marinade, and takes care to match the cut of meat perfectly with the technique involved. Aidells is an ardent fan of the old breeds that have true flavor and retain their marbling (free-range Berkshires are the best). He dispels the fear of trichinosis that was caused in the old days by poor husbandry (eight single known cases in the U.S. since 1997), a fear that still causes us to grossly overcook our pork (165 degrees is what most think is correct; 145 degrees is perfect). The sum of the content provides the reader dishes packed with old-world flavor while avoiding pedestrian taste. On top of the tantalizing recipes that are clear and simple and loaded with supplementary headnote information, there is a whole section on preserving. If you've ever wanted to make your own sausages, pâtés, terrines, rillettes, bacon, and hams, you'll find all you need to know.

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