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Meet the chefs: comparing Joe Beef and Odd Bits

In the December 2011 issue of Q&Q, Sue Carter Flinn examines two cookbooks offering distinctive approaches to preparing contemporary carnivore-centric cuisine.

The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts
by Frédéric Morin, David McMillan, and Meredith Erickson (Ten Speed Press)

Author’s background: Co-owners of three trendy Montreal restaurants, McKiernan Luncheonette, Liverpool House, and Joe Beef, known for their irreverent adaptations of French market cuisine
Celebrity chef endorsement: Foreword by Momofuku chef David Chang, who calls Joe Beef his favourite restaurant in the world
Decadent details: Foie gras makes unlikely appearances in a breakfast sandwich (right) and an Éclair Velveeta
Snout-to-tail talk: Subscribes to the whole-animal philosophy, but embraces traditional cuts. Refers to the popular tenderloin cut as postmodern offal
Special features: Chapters dedicated to Montreal history, building a smoker, and recipes inspired by or meant for train travel, such as Dining Car Calf Liver, a modern take on an old Canadian National Railway menu item
Meaty libations and desserts: Sausage Martini, made with vodka, white vermouth, Tabasco sauce, and a dash of canned Vienna sausage juice, garnished with a sausage
Vegetarian’s biggest nightmare: Filet de cheval à cheval: The French do two things that Anglophones find disgusting: eat frogs and eat horse

Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal
by Jennifer McLagan (HarperCollins Canada)

Author’s background: Australian-born chef and food writer who, before moving to Toronto, cut her teeth in U.K. kitchens working for restauranteur/author Prue Leith and a U.S. ambassador
Celebrity chef endorsement: McLagan’s other books, Bones and Fat, won James Beard Foundation awards for best single-subject cookbook
Decadent details: Roast Suckling Pig, prepared in duck fat
Snout-to-tail talk: I’ll admit that not all odd bits are delectable, and some are more about texture than taste, but that doesn’t mean any of them should be thrown away
Special features: Detailed descriptions of each part of the animal, from brains to udders to tails. Recipes such as Headcheese for the Unconvinced offer newcomers an entry into snout-to-tail cooking
Meaty libations and desserts: Chocolate Blood Ice Cream, created with cocoa, ginger, orange, sugar, milk, and a half-cup of pork blood
Vegetarian’s biggest nightmare: Crispy Testicle appetizers: if cooked properly these odd bits are tasty, tender,  and, surprisingly, very mild in flavour