Chelsea Green Publishing

The Gourmet Butcher's Guide to Meat

Pages:336 pages
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781603584685
Pub. Date January 31, 2014

The Gourmet Butcher's Guide to Meat

How to Source it Ethically, Cut it Professionally, and Prepare it Properly (with CD)

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
January 31, 2014


Vermont-based master butcher Cole Ward delivers a comprehensive guide to whole-animal butchery that goes beyond conventional “do-it-yourself” books and takes readers inside the world of truly sustainable meat production. The Gourmet Butcher's Guide to Meat demystifies the process of getting meat to the table, and its wide scope will be welcome to those who not only wish to learn the rudiments of butchery, but also want to understand how meat animals are raised, slaughtered, and marketed in a holistic system that honors both animals and consumers.

Written in Cole’s unique voice of humor and simplicity, the book celebrates the traditional art of culinary butchery, introducing readers to stand-out butchers in America and Europe as well as a diverse group of farmers committed to raising the very best animals with respect.

The many methods of raising and finishing meat animals are clearly and thoroughly explained and compared, and sensitive issues like hormone and antibiotic use in meat production are assessed. Readers will learn all the terminology associated with meat and butchery, as well as the complexities of meat grading, carcass yield, marbling scores, and issues with inspection.

Also included are recipes, a detailed glossary, and more information on:

•    The real definition, work, and role of a culinary butcher;
•    The history and tradition of butchery;
•    Meat: selecting your breed, grading and aging, tenderness, storing; and reheating;
•    How meat gets to the table: farmers, slaughtering methods, stress, and animal welfare, the role of meat inspectors, cut sheets, what’s legally allowed/not allowed when purchasing meat for further processing, keeping integrity in the local meat movement;
•    Understanding the commercial meat food chain and recognizing deceptive practices;
•    Processing your own meat: what you’ll need, tools, safety, prep;
•    Beef: domestication, terminology, how cows work, raising methods (grass, grain, etc.), meat-safety issues, hormone growth implants, antibiotics and feed additives, carcass yield and marbling scores, and a partial list of beef breeds;
•    Cutting up a beef forequarter and hindquarter;
•    Pork: domestication, terminology, raising methods, grading and inspection, and a partial list of pork breeds;
•    Cutting up a side of pork;
•    Sheep: domestication, terminology, raising methods, and a partial list of meat breeds;
•    Cutting up a whole lamb;
•    Chicken: domestication, terminology, how to cut up a whole chicken;
•    How to make sausages;
•    Value-added products: what they are and how they can help increase your bottom line;
•    Your own butcher shop: size, equipment, display, marketing;
•    A better way of thinking about meat: a holistic overview and some conclusions.

History buffs will delight in the chapter that traces the roots of butchery from pre-history to modern times, and meat shoppers will welcome Cole’s description of what goes on behind the scenes at meat markets large and small. And, of course, new or aspiring butchers will find a well-illustrated slideshow on CD (included in the back of the book) with over 800 images on cutting up a side of beef, a side of pork, and whole lamb and chicken in more detail than is offered in any other book on the subject. Sure to be the ultimate resource on the subject of gourmet butchery, this book will change the conversation and help bring back a traditional art that is in jeopardy, but increasingly important in the local-food and ecological-agriculture movement.


Library Journal-

"For old-world experience of the art of butchery, look no further than master butcher and lecturer Ward. His deep knowledge shines as he delves into nearly every aspect of butchery—from its role in ancient Egypt to profiles of individual farmers and shops to the controversy around ritual slaughter—before ever addressing how to carve up a carcass. While parts of this background are compelling, especially Ward’s personal story, those looking for practical instructions will have a 100-page wait. Once there, however, readers are greeted with detailed, well-organized information on choosing and processing the best beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. A CD is included for most of the carving instruction. Sensitive readers be warned: like a well-seasoned piece of meat, Ward’s language is mildly salty. ­VERDICT With artisan meat and home butchery growing in popularity among DIYers and urban homesteaders, this book is on trend. However, its detailed emphasis on theory and history make it better suited to the serious gourmet than to the casual foodie.” 


"Resolutely carnivorous, Ward amasses evidence confirming that humans have been meat eaters from early in their history. He passionately defends humane animal husbandry, maintaining that properly slaughtered and processed animals produce superior meat. Ward has little use for high-volume, big-business meat packers. Addressing beef, pork, lamb, and chicken, he inventories some of currently popular animal breeds whose flesh offers exceptional flavors. Ward explains how to break down an animal’s primal cuts to produce roasts, steaks, and chops, and he offers some unique recipes for sausages. A bibliography gives sources for further exploration, and a CD supplements the book with step-by-step instructional photos.”

“Cole Ward has done an extraordinary job of balancing the widely diverse components of meat production, marketing, and quality in this comprehensive and uniquely informative book. The author has taken every effort to present even the most contentious issues surrounding meat production from a balanced and accurate perspective.  His thorough treatment of these issues provides the reader the opportunity to make a well-informed decision as a matter of personal choice, unencumbered by emotion or innuendo.

However, the real value of the book is in the articulate way Ward connects the reader to both the science and the artisanship of gourmet butchering. His comfortable style and incomparable knowledge of gourmet butchering make this a valuable resource for quality meat aficionados and a must read for chefs, butchers, and meat-lovers everywhere.”--Mark Boggess, PhD, animal scientist and meat industry expert

"This comprehensive book is far more than a guide to cutting meat—it’s for anyone who wants a better understanding of meat (and we all should). Engaging, informative, and, yes, fun!"--Nicolette Hahn Niman, rancher and author, Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms

"Is there a bible of meat? There is one now. Cole Ward's book demystifies the whole process of how animals are raised, slaughtered, and eventually make it to your plate. From learning about breeds to cutting up your own side of beef, you will be a more empowered meat eater once you read this book."--Rebecca Thistlethwaite, author, Farms with a Future

“After nearly forty years of concentrating, industrializing, and deskilling the livestock and meat industries, a few global meat companies have separated the eater from the farmer, land, communities, and animals that we depend on for food. Cole Ward helps restore the lost craftsmanship of meat production by sharing critical knowledge about where meat comes from and how it's produced, processed, and marketed. His book takes the reader on an important journey from animal husbandry through the fading art of butchery to recipes for preparing a healthy meal, all interwoven with explanatory pictures, notes, and interesting trivia.”--Mike Callicrate, owner, Callicrate Cattle Company and Ranch Foods Direct


  • Winner - The Best Food Books of 2014 -Corby Kummer, The Atlantic - 2014


Cole Ward

Cole Ward grew up in the tiny Vermont town of Sheldon Springs. At the age of fourteen he began working part-time for a local butcher, washing meat trays and stuffing sausages for 20 cents a hour. At fifteen, he became an apprentice meat cutter at the local IGA, and in very few years was a master butcher specializing in whole-animal culinary butchery. In his early twenties, wanderlust took him out west to a job at LaFrieda Prime Meats at Los Angeles’s celebrated farmers' market. The famous butcher shop was next to CBS studios, and Ward’s celebrity clients soon included Billy Crystal, Bernadette Peters, Perry Como, Edith Head, and Raymond Burr. He also did meat props and special set-ups for television sitcoms like Three’s Company.

In 1982, Cole returned to Vermont, where most of his large family lives. He worked in markets and supermarkets around the state, managed meat departments, and eventually began giving workshops and doing on-farm cutting. Now Cole mixes hands-on butchering with teaching; his encyclopedic knowledge of the meat sector makes him a sought-after lecturer and seminar leader at culinary academies, colleges, and agricultural and sustainable-living conferences. His full butchery course was recently released on the two DVD set The Gourmet Butcher. With the publication of this book, he is sharing the knowledge acquired over forty-five years of butchering. He is convinced that the more people know about where their meat comes from, the more control they will have over their own and their family’s health.

Karen Coshof

Karen Coshof began her career as a commercial photographer, shooting campaigns for Air Canada, Sheraton, Clairol, and other clients, as well as fashion spreads and magazine covers. She then joined Stonehaven Productions, a communications company that produces television as well as specialized projects for the Canadian government and international corporations. At Stonehaven, Karen worked as a scriptwriter, proposal writer, print broker, director, producer, and executive producer.

While at Stonehaven, she conceived and produced The Great Warming, a three-hour Discovery climate-change series narrated by Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette that was broadcast in fifteen countries. She also co-executive produced the one-hour national PBS special Global Warming: The Signs and the Science.

She has been a keynote speaker at the Pacific Islands Environmental Conference, the US Fuel Ethanol Workshop, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, and the Caribbean Society of Trust and Estate Planning. 


The Gourmet Butcher's Website



Seven Days: Filet on Fire

Beef Forequarter: Primal Cuts

Beef Hindquarter: Primal Cuts

Lamb: Primal Cuts

Filet on Fire


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A half-century ago, the world was trying to heal the wounds of global war. People were rushing to make up for lost time, grasping for material wealth. This was the era of "total electric living," a phrase beamed into living rooms by General Electric spokesman Ronald Reagan. Environmental awareness was barely a gleam in the eye of even Rachel Carson.

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