The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

The River Cottage Cookbook
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Published by Collins
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Yet another first book from a prodigious writer. I suspect later collections are more fastidiously tested and benefit from bigger budgets and more time, but there’s something about author’s early work which feels as though they’re giving their all.

There’s no doubt this is true here – so much information from someone who’d just set out as a small holder (albeit for TV). This is a huge, almost encyclopedic book, with copious notes on how to grow, nurture, catch, forage and cook vegetables, livestock, fish and things from the hedgerow, and many tempting recipes relating to those notes. As with his early programmes from Dorset, I find this book hugely pleasurable; a nod towards the good life.

Who should have it?

Suitable for all standards of home cook.

Recipes to look out for

Mussel and sea beet gratin; pigeon pittas; leg of mutton or lamb baked in hay.

If you’re already a fan

The much more recent River Cottage A-Z; and the River Cottage Handbook series of handbooks (charcuterie, fish, seashore and game particularly good).