Prime is the newest and fourth book by Richard H. Turner. You’ve seen reviews here for Hog and Pitt Cue Co, the latter covering one of his superior restaurants. That fourth book, Hawksmoor at Home, was published in 2011 and I’ve got a copy on my way. You, too, may want them all. These are smart books that provide both recipes and insight.
Richard is renowned for his knowledge of meat. A true meat guru. He’s earned his reputation, with training by the Roux brothers, Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White. He’s a hands-on butcher, chef, restaurateur, and author. As a consultant, he has helped to launch over 20 restaurants. You’ll find beef and pork dishes everywhere in that portfolio.
This book has two elements, recipes organized by the style of cooking and interludes that give you a “beef” education. The style chapters include:
- Raw and Cured
The interludes are fascinating. You’ll learn all about beef breeds, how the cattle are reared and fed, their impact on the environment, how to buy beef, how to store it, and, yes, how to butcher a cow. There actually is a difference in the style and names of beef cuts between Britain and the US. Turner’s knowledge is that detailed and his presentation is intelligent and happily surprising.
Turner is based in Britain and this is a British book with very British recipes:
Charcoal-grilled Bone Marrow with Horseradish Snow and Toast
Grilled Calf’s Heart
Spiced Potted Beef
Beefsteak and Kidney Pudding
Turner is also an extensive world-traveler and researcher, perhaps a bit-obsessed about how beef is prepared around the world. So Prime is stocked with recipes from everywhere:
West African Suya
Thai Beef Salad
Pot au Feu
Chili con Carne
My favorite recipe in the book isn’t a piece of meat at all. It’s something called Gentleman’s Relish from Victorian England. An anchovy-flavored butter — lots of anchovy — dotted with cayenne, nutmeg, and cinnamon. A dab goes on top of your burger or steak. I’m headed to my food processor now.
This book is a signal work from an intelligent and surely passionate writer. It’s fun to just turn the pages and walk through the book. You see all these familiar recipe names, from all over the world. And suddenly you realize how central beef is to cooking around the world and how inventive mankind has been in finding ways to cook and serve beef. Prime is a perfect guide to beef from Britain to all the rest of the world.