The Borough Market in London is one of my favourite food foraging spots on this planet and also home to the Ginger Pig Butchery – a real butcher.
This is a carnivore’s paradise where meat and poultry are a religion and the provenance and husbandry of animals is decidedly organic, if not Celtic in its quest to bring back all the goodness and authenticity in butchery.
The Ginger Pig Meat Book brings all this to your kitchen and an invaluable resource, no matter where you are on this planet. As founder of Ginger Pig, Tim Wilson, says, “This book is a meat manual for the inquisitive cook. The word ‘provenance’ is thrown about a lot these days with regards to the food we eat, and with very good reason, as it means ‘to know the origin, source, birthplace, roots, pedigree and derivation’. All these things are vital for us to know about every piece of meat we buy.”
For me, this is the defining line between those who care about what they eat and what it tastes like, and the apathetic supermarket shopper who is completely nonchalant about where their meat or poultry comes from, and clearly do not care about all the chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics and modified and processed feeds in the food they eat, never mind the inhumane treatment these animals have inflicted upon them.
Wilson’s rationale is “Good farmers look after their stock well – it is their greatest asset – and give the butcher excellent meat.” He goes on to say, “I would like to see more businesses follow a model of animals being reared and sold by the one owner, who is then more responsible for the wellbeing of the stock”.
Profound logic and as with all produce, the answer lies in going back in time for the benefit of our future and sustainable farming will only be achieved by going back to the ancient methods of agriculture.
The Ginger Pig Meat Book has all the necessary if not fascinating facts on meat, poultry and game, how they are raised, the best breeds, the different cuts, strategically how to prepare different cuts for cooking and most importantly what is in season and best to be on your table with a month to month insight on what happens at the Ginger Pig farms.
Indeed, this approach sets this book apart from others; to go back to our roots and pragmatically cook what is seasonal and obviously what is in good supply and generally in sync with the weather, or seasons as it were.
There is brilliant ‘Farm’ recipes detailed month by month that have me yearning to live in a country with true seasons and great produce – “September: Braised Spanish pork with muscatel raisins, Peasant rabbit paella – October: Sausage and butterbean pot, Slow-roast shoulder of lamb – November: Boned and rolled fennel-stuffed chump of pork, Mutton shepherd’s pie – December: Braised oxtail, Citrus roast festive turkey – and many more dishes that are all perfect for the home cook; user-friendly simple in method yet wonderfully wholesome and tasty.
Each recipe is well-detailed in ingredients and method, and there is a very useful section on accompaniments and kitchen tips.
It is a beautifully bound, plain brown-covered book on recycled paper adding a butchers feel to it, along with great down on the farm pictures and precise step by step photo-instructions for preparations and the finished dishes.
Obviously the book has a more relevance to the United Kingdom and the Northern Hemisphere seasons, although this is easily adapted to the Southern Hemisphere. And yes, the Ginger Pig butcher has stores only in London (five of them now) although you can order online for delivery anywhere in the UK – their website is amazing with screeds of information http://www.thegingerpig.co.uk/
However, as a reference to meat, poultry and game and a recipe book, Ginger Pig Meat book is an invaluable addition to your cooking library, no matter where you live on this planet and an inspiration to all that enjoy good, wholesome food.
I am personally going to work through all the recipes and seasons, masquerading autumn and spring in the tropics here in Singapore.
(Mitchell Beazley – ISBN 978-1-84533-558-8)