The Kosher Carnivore: The Ultimate Meat and Poultry Cookbook, by June Hersh, is an extensive collection of recipes using kosher meats. Additional recipes for soups, side dishes, sauces and chutneys are also included that use creative substitutions in order to keep kosher. Hersh has conferred with a cast of expert butchers from across the United States to create an insightful guide for all things involving the selection, preparation, and seasoning of kosher meats. Recipes range from traditional kosher dishes such as Matzo Ball Soup and Chicken with Prunes Tsimmes to more contemporary recipes like Korean Kalbi Ribs and Beer Basted Chicken.
We decided to try two Romanian dishes from the Kosher Carnivore, the Spicy Grilled Mititei and the Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Salad along with the traditional Martha’s Excellent Matzo Ball Soup Recipe. The Mititei reminded me of simple street food that you might find served late night on the streets of Bucharest. The seasoned pieces of skewered ground beef, grilled over charcoal flame and served with a tangy dipping sauce were delicious. Many of the recipes in this book include ”Behind the Counter” sections where Hersh provides vital information about buying the cut of meat in the recipe as well as how to make comparable substitutions if it is not available. “Side Notes” is another useful section included in many of the recipes where the author makes other helpful suggestions. In fact, the side note to the Mititei recipe suggested that we serve it with the Eggplant and Tomato Salad so that is exactly what we did. This recipe also turned out great and was indeed a perfect paring with the Mititei. The tomato, eggplant, olive oil, and fresh basil in this salad, together made a great tasting, healthy Mediterranean style dish.
The next day, we tried Martha’s Excellent Matzo Ball Soup. This recipe called for us to first make the broth from scratch, add the garnish of carrots and fresh dill, followed by hand-made matzo balls. We used the excess chicken to make chicken salad sandwiches (not kosher but they did go really well with the soup). Anyway, this matzo ball soup was a good base recipe and the matzo balls turned out perfect. However, the broth was little light on flavor so I added some celery and some poultry seasoning along with the recommended kosher salt and pepper to enhance the flavor.
We believe that the Kosher Carnivore will appeal to most cooks, regardless of their faith. The kosher methods used for selecting, preparing, and seasoning meats and avoiding the mixture of meat and dairy products are consistent with safer, healthier cooking in general. The book’s chapters on cooking methods for meats and building flavor were very informative. The discussion of which types of animals and which cuts of meat are kosher was also very interesting. Until reading this book, we had no idea that wine could be kosher or non-kosher, but it can. Hersh provides a useful reference in the Kosher Wine Society's website where you can pair wine with food or vice versa. The Kosher Carnivore’s collection of recipes is its main strength, however. The book includes many upgrades of classic dishes as well as a wealth of contemporary favorites to explore. June Hersh was very inventive in her creation of healthier, kosher versions of entrees and side dishes alike. For example, her recipe for creamed spinach uses olive oil instead of cream and butter to deliver the same great tasting dish without all of the fat. Indeed, wholesome, healthy ingredients are a prevailing theme throughout most of Hersh’s recipes. Any cook will find some favorite recipes in this book. We give the Kosher Carnivore four out of five stars.
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