The Butcher’s Guide – Book Review

February 3, 2014 26 Comments

The Butcher's Guide An Insider's View to buy the best meat and save money

The Butcher’s Guide An Insider’s View to Buy the Best Meat and Save Money

Jimmy Kerstein is an “Insider to the Meat Business”. What makes him an insider? Forty years of working in the meat industry where he managed local meat markets, big volume retail chain stores and then got involved in the corporate side of the business. If you want to know about meat – how to buy it, how to handle it, how to store it and how to cook it – Jimmy’s new book, The Butcher’s Guide – An Insider’s View to Buy the Best Meat and Save Money is a great place to start.

What’s In The Butcher’s Guide

I love learning how markets work especially if they have something to do with food and the ingredients I’m buying, cooking and feeding to my family. I like to know how everything works and why things are called this and cost that. I not only want to know the difference between a Flat Iron Steak and Skirt Steak, I want to know exactly where these cuts come from on the cow and how they should be prepared. Throw in a recipe and I’m even more happy.

This is what you’ll find in Mr. Kerstein’s Butcher’s Guide plus much, much more. He starts his book with A Brief Overview of the Meat Business where you’ll learn about “boxed beef”, “subprimals”, “sell-by-dates”, “shrink” and a whole lot more. What does it mean when a grocery store offers a great sale and offers its meat at “markdown” prices? Should you be buying or avoiding?

Cooking Tips & Methods

Not only does Mr. Kerstein describe various methods for cooking meat, he offers gems like “Rubbing the meat with a thin layer of oil will help seasoning stick to the meat.” Then he talks about Seasoning Meats and offers some different herbs and spices that work well with meats and how to use them.

Buying the Best Meat

Here’s where the book really peaks my interest. Besides all the various cuts you can buy, there are different grades of beef, branded beef, grass-fed beef, organic beef, dry-aged beef and the list goes on. You’ll learn how you can save money by buying quarters of beef and butchering it yourself plus how to package it for the freezer so you’re not throwing it out a couple of months later.

Who doesn’t like a nice beef roast? Do you want to buy it from the round or from the chuck? And then what are the best beef cuts to buy for soups and stews? The most popular beef of all is ground beef, but do you really know what you’re buying?  And why is that ground beef can be nice and red on the outside but brown on the inside?

The Other White Meat

The Butcher’s Guide includes a lot of information about beef but it doesn’t stop there. Mr. Kerstein gets into pork, lamb, veal, and poultry including chicken and turkey. Did you know, “When shopping for whole fryers or chicken parts choose the largest chickens available. The bone structure of all of the chickens is a similar size. The meat-to-bone ratio is higher in the larger birds. There is better value in buying larger chickens and chicken parts. The larger chickens are just as tender as the smaller ones.”

Then There Are the Recipes

Besides being loaded with useful information about buying, handling and cooking different meats, Mr. Kerstein includes dozens of recipes that I can’t wait to try out. We’re talking about classic recipes like Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Fried Steak, Pot Roast, Buttermilk Panko Rib Pork Chops, Butterflied Grilled Leg of Lamb, Veal Marsala and Roast Chicken with Lemon.

I haven’t tried any of these recipes but they all look very accessible for home cooks. These are meals you can throw together on a weeknight for the family with little or no fuss. There’s even a recipe for Mary’s Famous Potato Salad that looks delightful, but as Mr. Kerstin says, “Every family seems to have someone who makes the best potato salad.”

In Conclusion

Jimmy Kerstein’s The Butcher’s Guide is very accessible. It’s written for the home cook who’s inquisitive and interested in learning more about the meat products they are cooking and serving their families. The information is from an “insider,” someone who knows the business and isn’t afraid to tell you like it is. I like this and would have liked to have seen more insider’s tips, not so much on what to buy but what to stay away from.

I get frustrated when I search the Internet for information on buying meat and am overwhelmed with some of the terms and language thrown at me. Mr. Kerstein recognizes this and dumbs it down so it is easier to understand but is still informative. In general, there’s a lot of information in this book but not so much that you will feel overwhelmed.


The Butcher’s Guide – An Insider’s View to Buy the Best Meat and Save Money Book Giveaway – CLOSED – Thanks For Your Comments

How to Enter – To have a chance to win a copy of Jimmy Kerstein’s new book, The Butcher’s Guide, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me your favorite cut of beef, pork or chicken. If you don’t eat meat, tell me your favorite vegetable. It’s that easy.

Open to US readers only. Giveaway is open through Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3pm, EST. At that time, I’ll choose a winner using Please make sure you provide a valid email address with your comment so I can contact you. Inkwater Press will be sending you your new cookbook! Winner has 48 hours to get in touch or I will draw an alternate winner.

If you eat meat, I know you’ll enjoy Jimmy’s new book and learn some interesting facts so please leave a comment and tell your friends to come over and leave a comment too.

Disclosure: Inkwater Press did provide me with a review copy of The Butcher’s Guide – An Insider’s View to Buy the Best Meat and Save Money and offered to send a copy to one of my readers. Also, all links to The Butcher’s Guide will take you to where I am part of their affiliate program. 

Last modified on Mon 7 April 2014 10:27 am

Comments (26)

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  1. Bill Jordan says:

    Sounds like a great book,god knows I need all the tips I can get.It is very important what goes on behind the scene at the butcher shop

  2. stephen keene says:

    I enjoy prime rib

  3. Sarah Pitcher says:

    I love meat! The tip about rubbing it with oil before seasoning it is a good one. I stopped putting oil on steak because,one time, I used too much and the steak caught on fire under the broiler in the oven!

  4. Tom Stefanson says:

    We love ribeyes at my house. I have experimented with different ways to prepare them. It’s a toss up between searing in a cast iron pan and finishing them in the oven and hardwood charcoal grilling after using my father in laws marinade recipe.

  5. Christine Dias says:

    This sounds like a very interesting book. I just have to say that I LOVE BEEF! I crave steak several times a week; preferably grassfed 🙂 My favorite cut is the ribeye.

  6. Barbara Boissonnas says:

    Would love to know the answers to all those selection and buying questions! What a great book. We usually cook rib-eye steaks here but the taste of flat iron steaks is outstanding. Can’t wait till we can grill outside again…

  7. tom redmond says:

    We are now in our 70s and love cooking but can no longer afford to buy cookbooks. Would simply love to have this one.

  8. Bill Smith says:

    This sounds like a very interesting book and would be a great reference book, for any cook book library.

  9. Pinktlb says:

    I love good steaks, ground sirloin and the whole meat lot.. but I am very skeptical in this day and age and all the stories on the meat processing plants and how by the time the meat gets to us and are they telling the truth – PINK SLIME — oh no. So this last year I bought some meat from a company in Omaha and even though it was pricey, the meat was so superior to the store bought meat and was well worth the expense. BUT– I know there are good cuts of meat (cheaper) and better ways to cook and season, but I am clueless and do really think that this book is all about an alternative to better cooking and tasting the meat and how good it can be. Even with cuts of meat from a good grocery store. Would love to read this and share. Thanks PINKTLB

  10. jonatha hill says:

    I am always unsure what to buy and how to cook it so this book would be most helpful.

  11. Peggy says:

    oh, my! I would so love to have a copy (free would be best!) of this book. I’ve always wanted to know about different types of meat – and how to save money buying it.

  12. Ken says:

    My favorite cut is the rib eye

  13. Alice Manning says:

    I have just started using a lot of spices and cutting down the fats that I add. I do like meat rubs but was not using oil before hand. Learn something already

  14. mack says:


  15. Geoffrey Norton says:

    Of all the information offered, where to buy meats and why which type is most appealing to me.

  16. Jason says:

    teres majors on the grill

  17. Barbara Whitesell says:

    After 40 years of cooking, we’re only now expanding our meat options. By far, our favorite cut is the rib eye. I’m learning about braising and roasting and also enjoy outdoor cooking with the ceramic egg or the hibachi. We’d love to win this book!

  18. Wendell Smith says:

    My favorite cut of beef is a good filet. When it comes to pork it’s hard to beat the tenderloin.

  19. Jim Kleeman says:

    I love to cook and smoke all kinds of meats

  20. Howard Hoffman says:

    I was reared on a Midwestern farm eating lots of good fresh meats and vegetables. I am now retired and far from the farm and those “good tastes” and would love to try to create some good memories with this cookbook.

  21. Jason S says:

    My favorite cut of meat is the T Bone

  22. Laurie says:

    we make 95% of our meals on the grill, filets & ribeyes being out favs. my husband is always looking to try new cuts of beef. thx for sharing this book (& if not the free one; we’ll go and get our own)!

  23. Bjorn F says:

    I am particular to the butterflied boneless leg of lamb, which is great on the grill for a party.

  24. Alexandria Martinez says:

    I want to look into using a butcher service and learn more about the ways this works. I have not used very many butchers and any tips will help me greatly. It was helpful to read that whatever recipe that you are going to use will give you the name of the meat that you need to buy.

  25. Mariah Seagle says:

    My mom wants to cook perfect steak cuts this weekend. It was explained here that we can save money by buying quarters of beef and butchering it at home. Moreover, it’s best to only get meat products from trusted suppliers.

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