Cook the Book: 'The Great Meat Cookbook'

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There comes a time every December when my family begins to discuss The Big Holiday Meal. This usually begins in the days after Thanksgiving and continues in full force until one of us decides the menu and goes grocery shopping.

There are the usual debates between brussels sprouts and green beans ("green beans aren't seasonal"... "your little cousin won't eat brussels," etc.) and the great mashed potatoes vs. yams battle. But the real source of discourse hinges on the main event: the giant centerpiece roast. Should it be a crown roast of pork? Or standing rib roast? Or perhaps a retro-kitsch Beef Wellington? What about turkeys and hams?

This war of roasts will be better served this year with a copy of The Great Meat Cookbook by sausage maestro Bill Aidells in hand. This encyclopedia of all things meat was released earlier this fall (back in pre-Thanksgiving land), but there is no better time to marvel at its contents. Not only does Aidells provide a recipe for just about every cut of meat from just about every type of animal you can imagine, but he also includes copious notes on the cuts themselves (the best methods for cooking, price points, and helpful substitution hints). He also advocates for sourcing meat locally and responsibly; most of the recipes are written to work with grass-fed and heirloom cuts.

Throughout this week, we'll be sampling an array of holiday roasts, from a humble Pot Roast to an elegant Stuffed Flank Steak and everything in between. We'll braise pork shanks in an Italian manner to make Stinco and then bust out the pomegranate molasses for colorful Turkish Lamb Shoulder Chops. And if you've gone the baked ham route, we'll have a Deviled Ham recipe to use up all of the leftovers.

Win 'The Great Meat Cookbook'

Thanks to the generous folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, we have five (5) copies of The Great Meat Cookbook to give away this week. All you need to do is tell us about the most over-the-top holiday roast you've ever prepared (or eaten) in the comments below.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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