My vegan and vegetarian readers will want to skip this post, I'm afraid. The book I'm reviewing was written by an extreme carnivore!
Le Charcutier Anglais: Tales and Recipes from a Gamekeeper Turned Charcutier is more than a cookbook. Though it has lots of recipes, for everything from terrines and verrines to pizza and pastry, it is actually a crash course in butchery and charcuterie (the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés and confit, primarily from pork). Marc travels widely, in Europe as well as throughout Britain, spreading the word and teaching others what is becoming a lost art.
It is also filled with humour. I had the privilege of reading a draft of the book long before it was published, and I remember laughing out loud and then having to read bits to my husband because he wanted to know what I was laughing at. Must warn the sensitive: the humour can be a little indelicate at times, but what can I say. Marc-Frederic (his French name) is a Lancashire lad, and when he asks you to read part of a story in a Lancashire accent, it's hilarious!
I must say there is one chapter I just skimmed with one eye (offal) and one chapter I skipped entirely (blood). Those who have religious, squeamish or other reasons for avoiding one or both of those chapters will still have a lot of reading. The first chapter gives close attention to, and important specifics about, the equipment you'll need for tackling various tasks.
The recipe I chose to make first, sausage rolls, is a classic British snack, perfect for picnics and parties. The recipe is on page 142 and calls for a few simple sausage ingredients and either homemade puff pastry (recipe on page 180) or frozen puff pastry. Next I'm going to make the pork pie with the traditional hot water pastry, something I've never done. But the book isn't all pork. There's beef, other meats, game, fish and fowl. Of course, the pastry chapter is my favourite.
Adapted from Le Charcutier Anglais. Recipe in the book says salt and pepper to taste and mixed herbs; my adaptation lists the specific seasonings and amounts I used, which you may change to suit yourself. If you cook with grams and litres and Celsius, see my Brit Conversions page for measurements and temperatures.
2 pounds ground pork
1 onion, finely chopped (I cooked it)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1 17.25-ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1 In large bowl, combine ground pork, chopped onion and seasonings. Cover and refrigerate to chill and allow flavors to come together.
2 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unfold the two pastry sheets, and cut each lengthwise into two strips. In small bowl, beat the egg and water to make an egg wash.
3 Divide the sausage into four portions and roll each into a log the length of the pastry strips. Place a sausage on each pastry strip. Brush the long pastry edge farthest from you with egg wash, roll the pastry around the sausage and crimp the edge to seal. Turn the roll over so that the seam is underneath. Kind of roll it around a bit, to a length of 12 inches.
4 Brush the rolls with egg wash. Cut each roll into eight 1.5-inch lengths. Cut 2 small slashes in top of each roll.
5 Place sausage rolls on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. If you're paranoid about the doneness of pork, as I am, you might want to give it an extra 10 or 15 minutes at 325 degrees.
One winner will receive a copy of Le Charcutier Anglais: Tales and Recipes from a Gamekeeper Turned Charcutier. All readers anywhere in the world who enter before 11:59 pm Eastern time Wednesday January 23 will be put into a random drawing. Winner will be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday January 24. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by 11:59 am Eastern time Sunday January 27, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).
Buy It Now Le Charcutier Anglais is available online at Amazon.
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Disclosure: The book for this giveaway is being provided by the author. I was given a copy of Le Charcutier Anglais for review, and all opinions shared are my own.