If you’re looking for that last minute, but perfect gift for the carnivore in your life, here are some of my favorites:

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Meat: Everything You Need to Know by Pat LaFrieda and Carolyn Carreno

Mike got me this one for my birthday and it’s fabulous! From America’s most celebrated butcher, Pat LaFrieda, it contains everything you ever wanted to know about where various cuts come from and guidance in selecting the best cuts for what you want to cook. There are step-by-step photographic instructions on butchering and breaking down–even how to French a rib rack. Delicious recipes illustrate how to cook and serve every sort of meat, including veal, lamb, poultry, pork, and beef, and even offal and odd bits. Don’t expect to find any veggies or sides here; this is a book dedicated to meat!

The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat by Joshua and Jessica Applestone and Alexandra Zissu

The subtitle tells it all: How to Buy, Cut, and Cook Great Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry and More. From the tools you need to do it to (including even how to make your own tools if you’ve a mind) the book gives clear instructions on the art of butchery, beginning with ‘how to hold a knife’ and moving on to tackle topics as diverse as how to do that clever butcher’s wrap to how to do a pig roast in a pit. The writing is entertaining and often humorous.


Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan

In a world of prime cuts, we too often overlook the more economical and perhaps less photogenic parts of the beast. This book will introduce you to them all — the bellies, brains, cheeks, combs, ears, gizzards, hearts, hocks, kidneys, lungs, marrow, necks, shanks, spleens, tongues, trotters, and even testicles! Back before offal became awful, these odd bits had a regular place on our plates and in our culinary repertoires. Ms. McLagan, chef and author, has made it her mission to restore respect to the lesser known and her recipes will make you confident handling them in your kitchen.


Beyond Bacon by Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry

Just from the tag line that reads ‘Paleo recipes that respect the whole hog’ you get the gist of this book, which its authors proclaim as ‘a love letter to pork’. In it, you’ll find information on how to source pastured pigs and techniques for rendering your own lard, making headcheese, and, of course, making bacon. And it’s filled with recipes aplenty for every conceivable sort of pork, as well as paleo offerings for the rest of the plate, including dessert!

Carnivore by Michael Symon


From the noted chef, restauranteur, and regular competitor on tv’s Iron Chef, who describes himself as a meat lover and his cuisine as ‘meat-centric,’ this book is a treatise on the various cuts of beef, pork, lamb, goat, poultry, game and game birds, including dozens of mouthwatering recipes for cooking each of them and sides to go with. Everything I’ve made from this book is flavorful and delicious!

Salumi by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

Like their previous book Charcuterie, which is also wonderful, this book offers a complete education on how to make (and best of all serve) each of Italy’s ‘big eight’ porky delights: guanciale, coppa, spalla, lardo, lonza, pancetta, proscuitto, and salami.  They even offer step by step instructions in how to butcher a hog American style or Italian style, if you want to take it a step further.  It’s a fascinating education, even if you don’t want to actually get into the salumi biz yourself!




Whatever your pleasure, or that of someone you love, these books will make a welcome addition to the library of any devoted meat lover!


  1. Thanks for this list MD! I have a question. I’m hearing more about the carcinogenic effects of red meat, and processed meat in particular: bacon, hot dogs seem to be the focus. Any thoughts?

    MDE replies: There’s pretty much always something in the news about the dangers of meat eating, especially processed foods, and most of it is epidemiological information, not controlled trials. Don’t know what, in specific, you’re asking about, but if it’s just the same ole major news media reporting ‘looks like there’s danger in eating bacon and processed meats’ I plan to give it the good ignoring it deserves and keep eating my bacon.

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