Admit it. You’re a little bit in love with farmers these days. Aren’t we all? This “growing” passion is well earned and long overdue.
But for omnivores who also happen to like our beef, pork, fowl, game and more, thank you very much, there are other talented food professionals that have carved a vital place for themselves at farmers’ markets, in restaurants and retail shops: butchers, especially those men and women “inspired by a locally-driven, nose to tail approach” featured in “PRIMAL CUTS: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers” by Marissa Guggiana.
Vegetarians are warned to avert their eyes even from the cover of this substantial book, its title stencil cut over what looks like butcher paper wrapping well-marbled animal flesh. Open it, and you’ll discover that your guides inside “Primal Cuts” are “righteous” and respectful masters of an ancient craft, currently enjoying their own renaissance of respect.
In “PRIMAL CUTS,” Guggiana profiles over fifty free-range farmers, progressive butchers and gifted chefs, sharing their stories and philosophies along with one hundred meat recipes, including step-by-step instructions and hundreds of diagrams, illustrations and full-color photos. Some of the people profiled will be familiar faces and names – “As Seen on TV!” – and others may be only neighborhood legends to locavores … until now.
Author Marissa Guggiana takes her wealth of experience as a 4th generation meat purveyor, food activist and writer for publications like Saveur and Meatpaper and presents an enlightening perspective on how today’s best think and work, sharing many of their signature dishes and family heirloom creations. And she is upfront with the mission they all share: “To make food that is meaningful and that respects the earth and nourishes its inhabitants.”
Otto von Bismarck famously said, “Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.” Ah, but what if we learned to make them ourselves? “PRIMAL CUTS” covers basics, tools and “trade-secret” techniques for making sausage, cooking conventional and unconventional cuts of meat, making great stock, curing meat, de-boning a chicken, stirring up nice sauces, and more, plus advice on what to do with leftovers (if any.)
Guggiana believes that it requires “moral dignity” to eat meat “in good faith, with a full heart.” “Eating is a daily prayer,” she writes, “an act of care that passes from the earth into our every cell.” Nose to tail, stem to root, can I hear an “Amen?”
With family roots in the fertile Red River Valley of North Dakota, Lynn Torrance Redlin has been part of the Cooking Up a Story team for a number of years. An avid gardener and home cook, Redlin is also a voracious reader, and enjoys exploring new information and ideas about our food system.