June Hersh: The Kosher Carnivore

Just in time for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are new kosher cookbooks to help cooks prepare special holiday meals. June Hersh‘s exuberant The Kosher Carnivore: The Ultimate Meat and Poultry Cookbook (St Martin’s Press 2011) is a fine guide to classic and adventurous meaty meals.

This is a book for those raised in a kosher household, and for those who have chosen to keep kosher for other reasons, including many who find kosher chickens taste better. June starts with what kosher rules:

Kosher butchering is also guided by very explicit rules. When it comes to butchering, kosher literally kicks butt. Kosher law dictates that certain nerves, fat, and arteries, which are mainly found in the back half of the animal, cannot be eaten. In America, it’s difficult and costly to remove those elements as it takes a highly skilled butcher and a time-consuming process, leaving only the front half of the animal deemed kosher. (pp. 2-3)

She goes over kosher rules in the kitchen, and then lists kosher butchers across the US. These include Venison expert: Norman Schlaff of Musicon Farm and Bison expert Carl Garber of Naoh’s Ark. She also lists other experts for the kitchen like Knife skills expert Norman Weinstein (pp. 4-5).

There are chapters on beef, lamb, chicken, etc, as well as chapters on soups, “Good Carbs,” Dough, Veggies, and Chutneys, Salsas, and Relish. The Beef chapter starts with a good introduction to cuts of beef. The first recipe is for Standing Rib Roast (p. 23) with a photo by Ben Fink on page 81. This is a serious cut for a special occasion, needing no more then kosher salt, olive oil, black pepper and fresh or dried herbs. There is a Classic Brisket (p. 49) or you could make New England Boiled Dinner (p. 51) with corned beef and cabbage and feast on Corned Beef Hash (p. 53) the next morning. The recipes are clear with plenty of helpful hints on exactly what the cut of meat should look like and how to buy it.

June also includes less classic recipes like Spicy Grilled Mititei (p. 58) that are Romanian meatballs or kofte, grilled and served with a spicy dipping sauce. Matzo Meat Cakes (p. 60) is a Sephardic meat pie:

My great grandmother’s version, with its roots from the Isle of Rhodes, is a slow-simmered ground beef, sandwiched between soften matzo, and baked to a crisp golden brown.

It is a humble, filling dish, perfect for a cool evening meal.

June Hersh is an able guide with a sense of humor and thoughtfulness to her writing. The Kosher Carnivore is a good addition to a kosher library.

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