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What I’m Reading: The Farmer And The Grill

Posted Jun 24 2008 5:13am

Back in January, a friend sent me a copy ofThe Farmer and The Grill…A Guide to Grilling, Barbecuing and Spit-Roasting Grassfed Meat…and for saving the planet one bite at a timeby Shannon Hayes. It got packed up in the shuffle of moving and I finally remembered to get it out and read it.

The book starts off with a story of Shannon’s venture into grilling. She sold grass-fed steaks to a couple at her farmer’s market, but had no idea how they should grill it when they asked. The following week, the woman came back furious because the steaks tasted horrible. At that point Shannon realized she needed to know how to cook the cuts of meat she was selling so she could tell people how to enjoy them. That humiliating event started a journey to the southern United States, Spain, France, and Argentina for tips on all manner of meat cooking.

It’s basically a cookbook written with the beginner Grass-fed Gourmet (Shannon happens to have another book by that title) in mind. She explains at a high-level the differences between feedlot beef, lamb, pork, and chicken and properly-raised grass-fed beef and lamb and pastured pork and poultry. She helps the reader understand the various cuts and the best cooking methods for each cut. There is at least one recipe for most every cut of the animal. The recipes are simple rubs and marinades, bringing influences from the above countries, as well as China and others. There’s also the wonderful advice to ditch the high-fructose corn syrup-infused barbecue sauces and some recipes to make your own.

Shannon is very diligent in showing that you don’t have to have $1000 or more invested in an “outdoor kitchen” to pull off excellent grilling. She covers gas grilling, charcoal grilling, wood smoking in a charcoal or gas grill, smoking in a real smoker, and spit roasting. While she admits her love of her $50 remote meat thermometer, she makes it known that a $5 dial-face thermometer will work quite nicely. She even includes a couple tips on how to tell if the grill is at the right temperature by how long you can hold your hand over the flame.

This is a definite addition to your cooking library. If you’ve been around here for any length of time, the reasons for selecting properly-raised meats are unneeded. But the recipes sound amazing and seem pretty simple to pull off, with ingredients that you’ve actually heard of. The best part was that she urges women to get out of the kitchen and learn how to grill. Her odyssey was designed to dispel the notion that the grill is the man’s domain. I think she accomplished her goal quite well while giving the Y chromosomes something to be excited about as well (what man isn’t excited by the thought of grilled meat?)

Get this book. Get to grilling. Eat meat.

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