Meat and Potatoes: Simple Recipes that Sizzle and Sear, promises to deliver “52 irresistible, simple meals,” along with knowledge (about meat and cast-iron cookery) “to help you upgrade your dishes.”
Each meal plan offers a meat (of course) main dish with 2 complimentary sides–one starch and one veggie. For example:
- Pastrami Flank Steak, Potato Pancakes and Gingered Red Cabbage Slaw;
- Pistachio-Crusted Pork Chop Milanese, Roast Fingerling Potatoes, Warm Arugula Salad;
- Asian Chicken Wings, Sesame Soba Noodles, Carrot-Apricot Slaw;
- Pan-Seared Lamb Loin, Horseradish potato Gratin, Spaghetti Squash with Basil and Almonds;
- Elk Loin with Port Thyme Butter; Jalapeño and Dried Cherry Spoon Bread, Honey-glazed Turnips.
The meals, especially the side dishes, are appetizing and sometimes even irresistible, but unfortunately…
This book is built entirely on a gimmick, “a trick or device intended to attract attention rather than fulfill a useful purpose” (Concise Oxford English Dictionary).
The Rustic Cast Iron Skillet is hyped as the most important piece of kitchen equipment, setting readers up to believe that all they need is that one chuck wagon essential to turn out 52 different meaty, gourmet meals.
Yes, a cast iron skillet is a great (and inexpensive) kitchen tool, but here’s what every real chef knows about cast iron–
- Don’t dump cups of liquid (broth, milk, wine, beer, juice) into your hot rustic skillet and cook it, unless you want to ruin the seasoning.
- Don’t add acidic ingredients (tomatoes, tomato juice, citrus) or alcohol to cast iron, unless you don’t mind an icky-metallic taste to your food.
- When braising (cooking with liquids), stewing or simmering, or when using acidic ingredients use enameled cast iron or aluminum clad steel.
But Fama fails to mention these annoying details (because they’d ruin the gimmick, wouldn’t they?) He describes how to season cast iron (a thin coat of oil, baked on), and why seasoning is important (creates a non-stick finish); then he gives more than a dozen recipes which will promptly ruin your seasoning efforts and he boldly tells you to be sure to use your skillet for recipes that will turn metallic when cooked in cast iron.
Who will like Meat and Potatoes?
- People who blindly and naively adore television chefs because hey, they’re, like ON TELEVISION, dude, which means they’re FAMOUS!;
- People who buy cookbooks so they can imagine themselves cooking beautiful, yummy meals, but who never actually cook any of those recipes (because virtual reality is satisfying enough);
- Experienced cooks who read cookbooks for inspiration, culling whatever is useful, ignoring bad advice, and supplementing shallow, insufficient instruction with their many years of knowledge and experience (there are some really good recipes, if you know which is the right pan to use).
Who won’t like Meat and Potatoes:
- Vegetarians, no doubt;
- Anyone hoping to gain in-depth schooling in the selection and preparation of meat (this book delves no deeper into meat than the beginner-basic rudiments);
- Die-hard “meat-and-potatoes” people like my brother, who insists sweet potatoes are NOT potatoes, who would never, ever put a mouthful of maple collard greens to his lips, despite the fact that they’re loaded with bacon.
Are you a meat-and-potatoes lover? And how do you feel about the prevailing notion that it’s impossible to market anything without a gimmick?
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.