A 12-week course at Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School in East Cork, Ireland, costs more than $13,000. What a treat if you can swing it, but those who plunk down $40 for her beautiful new book will be treated to much of what’s covered.

Deserved praise has been heaped upon Allen, who founded the school 27 years ago, and on her many cookbooks. The 60-year-old grew up in an environment where butter was churned, fat was rendered from geese, and ciders were put up. “Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways Are the Best — Over 700 Recipes Show You Why” (Kyle, $40) reconnects with that past, not for nostalgia’s sake but for more practical reasons. “The path of life doesn’t always run smoothly,” Allen writes, “and so many confident young people who were riding the crest of a wave are suddenly forced to face the reality that they are virtually helpless in a changed situation. With oil supplies diminishing and energy prices rising, we are likely to need these skills even more in the future.”

Whether or not circumstances will force a widespread return to living off the land, Allen says foods that are in season are what our bodies need at that particular time of year. So in comprehensive fashion she dispatches how-tos that cover winter to fall. Even if you never planned to butter an egg (not what you’d imagine), cure pork, hang game, skin a flatfish, keep chickens or forage for wild nuts, greens, fruit and flowers, her descriptions and patient instruction will keep you entertained.

The dishes Allen makes at Ballymaloe might produce more smashing results because she works with ingredients from her 100-acre organic farm. Still, the book might inspire cooks elsewhere to use the freshest, most sustainable foodstuffs they can find. At the very least, she urges us to reconsider our disposable society: Scrape the mold from a piece of cheese or the surface of a pot of jam. We can eat what’s underneath and survive.

Speaking of survival, here’s John Torode’s take, from “Chicken & Other Fowl” (Firefly, 2010; $24.95): “I’ve always believed that if you can roast a chicken you will survive. It’s a simple skill that will give you freedom.”

The London restaurateur, born in Australia, isn’t the first chef to make such a statement. But it’s how well he follows through in this, his latest effort after “Beef and Other Bovine Matters” (Taunton, 2009), that is worth the investment in a single-subject cookbook.

“Chicken” has the same clean design and graphic treatment as “Beef,” which makes this collection of 150 recipes just as easy to flip through. He covers turkey, goose, quail and birds less popular in the United States than in Britain: guinea fowl, squab and partridge, plus several sets of “go-withs” such as stuffings, including a pork-with-pear recipe I’ll be sure to revisit in the fall.

Torode describes this as “not a restaurant cookbook,” presumably because the recipes are not demanding. But I found his portions on the generous (restaurant-like) side. His creamy curry pasta with chicken meatballs is killer good and provides a nice answer to a weeknight poser: What, chicken again? Yet the number of meatballs can be cut in half and still satisfy.

His relaxed approach suggests we cook a recipe three or four times, kind of like breaking in a pair of shoes. Tips from even a first pass through the book yield sound strategies. He soaks chicken pieces in salted water before using them to make stock; it helps produce a clear, golden broth. He prefers to grill chicken breasts and saute duck breasts with the skin on because the meat benefits from the self-basting fat and flavor. He treats fried chicken to the classic French treatment of frites, twice-frying for extra crispness.

And, in addition to his best recipe for roast chicken, the author offers non-daunting ways to make confit, terrine, pate and pastrami. Finally, he lists organic poultry and game dealers by country.


4 to 6 appetizer servings

Remember fried chicken livers? They make easy and inexpensive hors d’oeuvres. A squeeze of lime brightens them. Adapted from “Forgotten Skills of Cooking,” by Darina Allen (Kyle, 2010).

12 ounces chicken livers, preferably organic

Whole milk, for soaking

Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying


Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Lime wedges, for serving

Trim away any connective sinew and fat from the chicken livers, then rinse the livers. Divide any large pieces of liver into 3 or 4 pieces. Place in a bowl and cover with the milk. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a few inches of oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Combine the flour and a generous amount of salt and pepper in a resealable plastic food storage bag. Drain the chicken livers and discard the milk. Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels.

Add half of the chicken livers to the bag and toss to coat evenly. Use tongs to drop the livers into the hot oil, which should bubble furiously around each piece. Fry just until deep golden brown and crisp on the outside; use tongs to transfer to the paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken livers.

Serve immediately, with lime wedges for sprinkling.

Per serving (based on 6): 70 calories, 10 g protein, 0 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 195 mg cholesterol, 85 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar


4 servings

We found that the original recipe stipulates more meatballs per serving than one might like, so we suggest you form all the balls (38 to 40), then freeze half of them, uncooked, on a baking sheet until firm. Transfer to a resealable plastic food storage bag and freeze for up to 3 months. That way, the next time you make the dish, you’ll have the chicken part all ready to go.

Adapted from “Chicken & Other Fowl,” by John Torode (Firefly, 2010).

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 large onion, finely chopped (11/2 to 2 cups)

Freshly ground black pepper


1/4 cup whole or low-fat milk

1 2/3 cups fresh plain bread crumbs (from about 3 pieces of bread)

2 1/4 pounds ground chicken

Leaves from 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus other tender herbs if you like

12 ounces dried spaghetti

1 1/4 cups heavy cream (may substitute half-and-half)

Combine 2 tablespoons of the oil, the curry powder and onion in a large skillet, preferably nonstick or cast-iron. Add a grind of pepper and salt to taste. Cook over medium heat for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft but not browned. Remove from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onion to a bowl, leaving the oil in the skillet.

Combine half of the sauteed onion, the milk and the bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground chicken, lots of salt and pepper to taste and the parsley. Mix thoroughly until it becomes a paste rather than lumpy. Use your hands to form the mixture into balls a little smaller than a ping-pong ball (38 to 40 of them).

Place the skillet over medium-high heat, then add as many balls as will fit in a single layer; they can be fairly close together. Working in batches, cook for 10 to 12 minutes, turning, until the chicken meatballs are well-browned all over. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil as needed. (Transfer the cooked balls to a plate while you cook subsequent batches; they do not have to be cooked through.)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package directions. Drain and hold in a colander.

Add the reserved sauteed onion and the cream to the skillet with the last batch of chicken meatballs and bring to a boil (still over medium-high heat). Taste and season, if necessary. Add any reserved balls to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and cook for 15 minutes; the sauce will have thickened and should coat all of the meatballs.

Transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the drained spaghetti, and mix gently to coat evenly. Serve warm.

Per serving (with half the meatballs): 920 calories, 37 g protein, 75 g carbohydrates, 52 g fat, 19 g saturated fat, 210 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar



8 servings

Make ahead: The just-formed patties need to rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Adapted from “Chicken & Other Fowl,” by John Torode (Firefly, 2010).

1 medium onion, cut into chunks

Leaves from a large handful of flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 1/4 pounds fresh pork sausage (casings removed)

1 1/4 pounds ground chicken

1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup water

8 slices bacon, for serving

8 eggs, for serving (optional)

8 burger buns, for serving

8 slices (8 ounces) good melting cheese, for serving

Salted butter, for serving

Tomato relish, for serving (optional)

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.

Combine the onion, parsley, ketchup and oyster sauce in a food processor; blend to a paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, then add the sausage, ground chicken, whole egg and egg yolk and the water. Use a sturdy wooden spoon to mix until well- incorporated (for several minutes; the texture should be a bit like cooked oatmeal). Divide into 8 equal portions, rolling each into a large ball. Place on the lined baking sheet and flatten each of them slightly. Cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 1 day.

Prepare the grill for direct and indirect heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them so a portion of the grill does not have coals. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.

Place the burgers on the grill and cook for about 2 minutes, until the edges start to color. Turn them over and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn them again and move them to the indirect-heat side of the grill. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes; they should be well done.

(Alternatively, the burgers can be cooked in a large grill pan on the stove top, in batches as needed. Heat the pan over high heat; add the burgers and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 6 minutes on the first side until browned on the bottom, then turn them over and cook for 6 minutes on the second side, or until cooked through.)

Meanwhile, fry the bacon and the eggs, if desired (separately), as you normally would. Toast the buns’ cut sides.

Stack the burgers and bacon on the bases of the buns. Top each with a slice of cheese, which should start to soften and melt. Spread the toasted side of the bun tops with butter. Add tomato relish, if desired. Set a fried egg, if using, on top of the cheese and cover with the bun tops. Insert a wooden skewer through the center of each assembled burger to hold it all together. Serve warm.

Per serving (with bun and topings): 830 calories, 52 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 56 g fat, 19 g saturated fat, 220 mg cholesterol, 2290 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar


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