By Pat LaFrieda
Simon & Schuster; $39.99
Pat LaFrieda’s book had me at the prologue. It begins with New York City’s lauded butcher being driven home from a night out on the town with his wife. His cell phone rings. The organizer of a huge meat-heavy Brooklyn food event desperately needs his help. The event’s vendors ran out of meat and rioting ensued. If the organizer can’t guarantee that there will be enough food the next day, the police won’t let it open. LaFrieda immediately makes some calls, and after an all-night cutting and packing session with a few loyal staff, he saves the day-and loves every minute doing it.
LaFrieda’s book is many things: It’s a comprehensive guide to all things meat with color photographs of just about every cut known to man, plus the pros and cons of each. There are step-by-step directions for techniques like tying a crown roast and making chicken lollipops. There are 75 beautifully photographed recipes, treasures from his family and from the restaurants whose chefs serve as his second family. But what stands out most is LaFrieda’s voice. Helped by writer Carolynn Carreño, LaFrieda tells the story of his family’s meat empire (started by his great-grandfather in 1922), engagingly mixing in business wisdom (he often counters the family’s “traditional” ways of doing things) with his vast knowledge of the restaurant industry. All that, plus his detailed guide to the perfect burger, delivers on the book’s subtitle: “Everything You Need to Know.”
Five-Minute Marinated Skirt Steak, p. 201 A marinade of brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce on LaFrieda’s favorite cut of meat will become an instant favorite.
Pork Meatballs with Toasted Pignoli and Golden Raisins, p. 102 Based on his grandfather’s braciole, these meatballs are meaty and cheesy with a touch of sweetness. People go crazy for them.
Photos by Evan Sung