Disclaimer: This book was given to me courtesy of Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
If you have been interest in learning how to cure and smoke your own meats, then The River Cottage Curing & Smoking is loaded with information to take you from novice to expert in no time. You will learn the history of curing and smoking, and from there build on the fundamentals with various illustrations, how-tos, and recipes to reinforce the information.
One thing this books does not lack is an in-depth knowledge of smoking and curing a wide variety of meats. The principles section gives you a thorough breakdown of salt and other necessary components and ingredients to successfully cure and smoke meats at home, and the many options available to you in your own cabinets and at the store.
From the basic principles, the book then transitions to the most interesting parts which include ingredients, methods, and recipes. In the three sections, you learn how to properly combine the ingredients to make a brine and the method to use for the particular cut of meat you are using, and easy to follow recipes in which you can use your meat. One thing I did notice about the recipes is that not all of them are based on cured or smoked meat, but a lot of them do included some one or more of the methods used to cure and smoke meat.
This book is not for the faint of hearts—those who like to rush through a book within a day. To really understand and take in the knowledge you have to spend a couple of days really absorbing the information, and more time than that to really execute the methods used. There are a lot of visual guides to help you along in the book which I really enjoyed having because it helped me identify the cuts of meat in the different animals listed in the book. I also like how the information was organized because after reading the book I felt more confident to cure and brine my own meats at home, particularly bacon, and to conquer my fear of preserving which is in a different category but some of the techniques and methods still apply. A great book for the any meat lover.