Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating
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Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating

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by Fergus Henderson

The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating is a certified "foodie" classic. In it, Fergus Henderson — whose London restaurant, St. John, is a world-renowned destination for people who love to eat "on the wild side" — presents the recipes that have marked him out as one of the most innovative, yet traditional, chefs. Here are recipes that hark back to


The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating is a certified "foodie" classic. In it, Fergus Henderson — whose London restaurant, St. John, is a world-renowned destination for people who love to eat "on the wild side" — presents the recipes that have marked him out as one of the most innovative, yet traditional, chefs. Here are recipes that hark back to a strong rural tradition of delicious thrift, and that literally represent Henderson's motto, "Nose to Tail Eating" — be they Pig's Trotter Stuffed with Potato, Rabbit Wrapped in Fennel and Bacon, or his signature dish of Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad. For those of a less carnivorous bent, there are also splendid dishes such as Deviled Crab; Smoked Haddock, Mustard, and Saffron; Green Beans, Shallots, Garlic, and Anchovies; and to keep the sweetest tooth happy, there are gloriously satisfying puddings, notably the St. John Eccles Cakes, and a very nearly perfect Chocolate Ice Cream.

Editorial Reviews

Dwight Garner
The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating, by the English chef Fergus Henderson, is a terrifically dour, Edward Gorey-ish guide to cooking with offal: everything from pig's trotters and lamb's kidneys to brains, tripe, spleen, heart and tongue.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
An audacious chef whose St. John restaurant in London draws legions of fans, Henderson is a staunch proponent of using virtually the entirety of any plant or animal being served up. Harking back to the days when very little went to waste, he practices what he preaches with such victuals as Rolled Pig's Spleen, Duck's Neck Terrine and Roast Woodcock, which is cooked with innards and head intact, the latter providing a bit of "delicious brains." Henderson recommends the use of a disposable Bic razor for depilating the primary ingredient in Crispy Pig Tails. And then there's Warm Pig's Head, which extreme chef Anthony Bourdain describes in his introduction as "so Goddamn amazing that it borders on religious epiphany." Here, too, are four recipes for lamb's brains, a commodity that Henderson admits is illegal in both the U.S. and England. Home chefs will encounter difficulties in obtaining other ingredients as well. Blood Cake and Fried Eggs calls for a quart of fresh pig's blood, and Soft Roes on Toast requires delicate white sacs of herring semen. Sprinkled among these challenging dishes, however, are more accessible fare: Kid and Fennel, Mussels Grilled on a Barbecue, and Radishes to Accompany Duck or Goose, wherein both the radish and its leaves are added to the bird's jus. Desserts include Treacle Tart and Carragheen Pudding made with red seaweed. (Apr.) Forecast: While much of its food is well beyond what most American home chefs will choose to cook for friends and families, this book is certain to generate a good deal of publicity because of its subject matter, prompting a large number of browsers, if not necessarily buyers. Admiring blurbs by Jim Harrison and Rose Gray will also help. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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First Edition
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7.37(w) x 9.12(h) x 0.56(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating

Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad

To Serve Four

This is the one dish that does not change on the menu at St. John. The marrowbone comes from a calf's leg; ask your butcher to keep some for you. You will need tea-spoons or long thin implements to scrape your marrow out of the bone at the table.

Do you recall eating Raisin Bran for breakfast? The raisin to bran-flake ratio was always a huge anxiety, to a point, sometimes, that one was tempted to add extra raisins, which inevitably resulted in too many raisins, and one lost that pleasure of discovering the occasional sweet chewiness in contrast to the branny crunch. When administering such things as capers, it is very good to remember Raisin Bran.

twelve 3-inch pieces of 1 middle veal marrowbone
a healthy bunch of flatleaf parsley leaves picked from its stems
2 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 modest handful of capers (extra-fine if possible)

juice of 1 lemon
extra-virgin olive oil
a pinch of sea salt and black pepper
a good supply of toast
coarse sea salt

Put the marrowbone pieces in an ovenproof frying pan and place in a hot 450°F. oven. The roasting process should take about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the bone. You are looking for the marrow to be loose and giving, but not melted away, which it will do if left too long (traditionally the ends would be covered to prevent any seepage, but I like the coloring and crispness at the ends).

Meanwhile lightly chop your parsley, just enough to discipline it, mix it with the shallots and capers, and at the last moment, dress the salad.

Here is a dish that should not be completely seasoned before leaving the kitchen, rendering a last-minute seasoning unnecessary by the actual eater; this, especially in the case of coarse sea salt, gives texture and uplift at the moment of eating. My approach is to scrape the marrow from the bone onto the toast and season with coarse sea salt. Then a pinch of parsley salad on top of this and eat. Of course once you have your pile of bones, salad, toast, and salt it is "liberty hall."

Pot Roast Brisket

Both this and the following brisket recipe provide very good leftovers for your hash, or are excellent in sandwiches, or simply cold, thinly sliced, with Green Sauce or Horseradish Sauce. You can salt the brisket yourself for 5 days in a brine or if you don't want to make it yourself, you can buy salted brisket from the butcher.

2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 onions, peeled and chopped
2 leeks cleaned, peeled and chopped
2 whole heads of garlic, skin on
a bundle of fresh herbs tied together
10 black peppercorns
4 1/4 to 4 1/2 pound piece of brisket of beef
1 quart unsalted chicken stock
2 cups red wine (about 16 ounces)

In a deep roasting pan, just a bit bigger than your beef, lay your chopped vegetables, garlic, herbs, and peppercorns onto which nestle your brisket. Pour the stock and wine over it. You are looking for an iceberg effect: part of the beef is not covered but we know there is a lot more submerged in the stock. Cover with aluminum foil. Put into a medium oven for 3 hours, until thoroughly giving but not collapsing (keep an eye on it; do not let it cook too fast, and turn the oven down if this is the case).

Then slice and eat it, ladling a little of the juice over the meat (keep the remaining juice, which makes a very good base for soup). Serve with Horseradish Sauce.

The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. Copyright © by Fergus Henderson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Fergus Henderson trained as an architect before becoming a chef, opening the French House Dining Room in 1992 and St. John in 1995, which has won numerous awards and accolades, including Best British and Best Overall London Restaurant at the 2001 Moët & Chandon Restaurant Awards. The Whole Beast won the 2000 Andre Simon Award.

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Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
OrchidMR More than 1 year ago
What a pleasure to come across a cookbook on which bestows traditional recipes (meaning communicated from ancestors to descendants); recipes attached to old customs; old-fashioned. So, this is a delicious array of many organ recipes: warm pig’s head, ox tongue, roast bone marrow, calf’s heart, brawn (headcheese), jellied tripe, rolled pig’s spleen, duck neck terrine, duck hearts on toast, many recipes for lamb’s brain, sweet breads, blood cake (made with 1 quart of pig’s blood), pig’s cheek and tongue, gratin of tripe, haggis, deviled kidneys, lamb’s kidneys and giblet stew. It seems precariously easy to slip into a cycle where the choices are only chop, steak or breast. My working plan is to explore new cuts of meat and offal, also explore nose to tail eating and try to integrate it into everyday life. And so far, the liver recipes are delicious. The recipes a simple (I very much appreciate standard fare for Britons... or once was) and yet exotic. Here's what I mean by simple: marrowbone, parsley, shallots and capers, with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil. And, I am glad to see recipes about preserving meats; even pig's liver! Even more mouth-drooling: a variety of animal parts preserved in rendered fat. Although Henderson does not discuss the health benefits of the foods he serves, since white sugar is used in a few dessert recipes and white bread crumbs in a few soups recipes, The Whole Beast is the quintessential food cookbook; its principles confers more beauty, strength, and happiness on mankind than the thousands of fatuous lowfat tomes that bemoan about the evils of rich diets and promise the mecca of disease-freeness on a diet of skinless chicken breasts, soy milk, lowfat milk. “Nearly anyone–after a few tries–can grill a fillet mignon or a sirloin steak. A trained chimp can steam a lobster. But it takes love, and time, and respect for one’s ingredients to properly deal with a pig’s ear or a kidney.”