Lobel’s Meat Bible: All you need to know about meat and poultry from America’s master butchers
by Stanley Lobel, Evan, Mark and David Lobel
Publisher: Chronicle Books, Country: US
ISBN: 9780811858267, Year: 2009
Link to publisher’s page or site
This review is the personal opinion of the reviewer.

Overview

Lobel’s Meat Bible from the eponymous butchery in New York promises “All you need to know about meat and poultry”. It’s a bold promise and the book doesn’t deliver. This visually attractive “bible” is both very informative and incredibly disappointing.

Full review

The authors have produced a book that contains strong information about types and cuts of meat, from beef to game birds and variety meats (offal). Following the introduction, there are chapters for Beef, Veal, Pork, Lamb, Poultry & Rabbit, Game Birds & Game, Variety Meats, and Sauces, Chutneys, Condiments & Stocks.

Each section starts with an explanation of meats and their cuts, with useful descriptions of how cuts are related. What a pity that there isn’t a single diagram or picture of a piece of meat, a cut of meat, or even a carcass. Not one. The only somewhat helpful images are a small number of line drawings showing you how to prepare a piece of meat in a few recipes, and how to cut up a chicken. The lack of diagrams makes the authors’ text about the location and relationship between cuts unfathomable for anyone who isn’t already familiar with the cuts. For instance, being told that the sirloin is cut from the short loin nearest the rump is useless if “rump” and “loin” are never defined. The index is weak, giving no help in trying to find recipes for specific cuts.

The target audience is USAmerican and there’s only limited information showing an awareness of other markets (including some terminological or descriptive errors). There are clear gaps in information, such as the focus on calves’ brains as the best and most common brains eaten, or that pig’s and lamb’s kidneys are the same size — neither of these hold true in the markets where these variety meats are eaten far more commonly.

The book also fails as a “bible” of how to cook meat. Although there is very useful info about preparation, storage and cooking temperatures, the basics of how to cook a good steak or how to roast a chicken to perfection are completely absent. The selection of recipes is broad but seems rather arbitrary, just presenting interesting dishes with a particularly USAmerican character. The first few recipes in the beef section include Steak Tartare (some purists might dislike it), True Texas Chili, Corned Beef, Corned Beef Hash, and Reuben Sandwich. For chicken, the first few include Buffalo Wings, Baby Chickens with Apple Cream, Chicken with Sausage and Sweet and Pickled Peppers, and Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya.

Lobel’s Meat Bible is a good, attractive recipe book, with quite a lot of useful ancillary information. Contrary to its title, it is not, however, anything like a reference work. If it hadn’t been for the quality of the information presented in the book, I would have given this only two stars, but it scrapes in as a three star book (Recommended – some flaws).

This is an original review for The Gastronomer’s Bookshelf.
Main rating: 3. Recommended – some flaws
Visual appeal: Attractive
Suitability as a gift: Quite nice
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