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Charcuterie: Grigson vs Ruhlman/Polcyn

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Hi all,

What are your thoughts on the relative merits of these two books? I want to try my hand at some charcuterie, and both of these books come highly recommended.

I am interested in curing without nitrates, if that's even possible. I know Ruhlman, et al make liberal use of them. Does Grigson?

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  1. In the ingredients chapter at the beginning of Grigson's book, she says, "Saltpeter...is important in the making of brine because it gives meat...an attractive rosy appearance, when otherwise it would be a murky grayish-brown. It has no value whatsoever as a preservative, and should be used in tiny quantities as it will harden the meat, a tendency which is counteracted by the addition of sugar to the brine." In other words, if you don't mind gray meat, leave out the nitrates, since color is the only thing they preserve.

    I've not read the other book you mentioned, but Jane has been at least as much help to me over the years as Julia. Her tastes and prejudices are as clear as her writing, and her delighted fascination with her subject obvious. I just have to find another copy in hardback, since my paperback edition has broken its back in several places from being forced to lie flat while I follow a recipe...and I am not a cook who habitually follows recipes.