They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but that’s exactly what I did with The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook by Steven Lamb. When I first got a copy of the book in my hands my first thoughts were: textbook. The book is not only hardbound but a rugged, solid hard binding that is going to hold up over years and years of use. It goes without saying that if you are interested in curing and smoking, you will be utilizing this book for quite a long time to come.
Roughly the first half of The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook is informative. Lamb writes extensively about all of the basics. This includes but is not limited to bacteria, salt, the methods used in the book as well as the equipment required to complete the recipes. The recipes are varied. Pine-smoked mussels, duck confit, sauerkraut, smoked new potato salad in addition to classics like prosciutto, salami and, a new favorite, brined Christmas turkey. Every recipe has at least one photograph of the finished product. Many of the how-to sections (how to tie a butcher’s knot, butchering techniques, etc.) include helpful and clear illustrations and photos. The photographs are even in color. Lamb has a quirky sense of humor. His recipe for spalla and speck starts off with the acknowledgement that “this might sound like a sequel TV series starring the offspring of Mork and Mindy.”
If there is any criticism of The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook, it is the “conversion” between the original version of the book intended for British readers and this new version for the US market. There are little differences here and there. The author does include a note on some of the adaptations they have made…but it is quietly tucked away on the book’s final pages.
Lamb’s The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook is a must-have. For novices who have never tried their hand at smoking or curing, the instructions are clearly written. For those with some experience, there is enough to get you thinking outside the box and try some new techniques and recipes. Needless to say, executing a few of these recipes will certainly impress at your next dinner party.
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.