Cole Ward Book: The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat

Hope with her copy of Cole Ward’s new book on Meat Cutting

Master butcher Cole Ward’s new book “The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat” arrived in the mail today!

Cole Ward is the master butcher that we spent eighteen months training with to learn the art and craft of traditional commercial style meat cutting in 2008 through 2010. Cole has nearly five decades of experience in the trade and was joy to work with and to learn from. His book was a great refresher and I’ve already used two tidbits out of the book as I’m working on the final stages of setting up things in the initial cutter room of our USDA/State inspected on-farm butcher shop for our family’s pastured pig farm.

Our ten year old daughter Hope who was too young to do the training course with us has watched Cole’s 2011 instructional meat cutting DVD video series literally dozens of times and knows them by heart. I think she’s going to really enjoy the book as she is looking forward to learning the art of the knife when Cole gives us a refresher course just before we open our butcher shop.

Cole’s new book is packed with practical information about the tools, techniques, cuts, animals and other aspects of sourcing meat locally. This is a must have book for anyone wanting to eat ethically, locally and especially if they want to learn to cut their own meat.

My recommendation is to get both the 2011 DVD which is available directly from Cole Ward and also get the new book by published by Chelsea Green. They cover somewhat overlapping information from different angles but there is a lot that each covers that you don’t really get in the other.

For example, the book talks more about the tools, livestock breeds and has a lot of little insights and asides from Cole’s decades of experience and covers ethical and cultural issues. The book contains step-by-step instructions for making sausage, setting up for cutting and other stuff. The hardcover part of the book’s focus is really the background of meat that so many books have missed when they just focus on what are the cuts.

On the other hand 2011 DVD two-disk set by Cole Ward and Karen Coshof “The Gourmet Butcher …from Farm to Table” is better for actual knife techniques for meat cutting because it shows Cole in motion, how his hands are moving, how the meat cleaves, the way he rotates, twists and turns the primals as he works. With the video you can pause, rewind and watch it all again in slow-mo. The 2011 video series lacks all the background stuff in the book since the video series just focuses on the cutting beef, lamb and pork. (Note: the book includes a DVD of thousands of more still images and more text, not to be confused with the video series.)

A paper book can’t do what the video series does and the video can’t cover the depth that the book does. Think of them as a set. If you’re serious about meat, get both.

On Amazon: “The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat”

If you sweet talk Cole ( you might be able to get a signed copy directly from him. Ask for the DVD too and maybe he’ll sign the case that as well!

Outdoors: 14°F/-10°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 63°F/55°F

Daily Spark: I saw an advertisements: Train to be a nurse. Train to be an engineer. Train to be a butcher. “Wow,” I thought, “that is one talented train!”

Disclaimer: I get absolutely no benefit from this post other than the good feeling of letting you know about a great book by a great butcher. That Amazon link does not give me any points, rewards or money. It’s just there for your ease of use. Enjoy!.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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8 Responses to Cole Ward Book: The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat

  1. Patrick says:

    Disclaimer: I get absolutely no benefit from this post other than the good feeling of letting you know about a great book by a great butcher. That Amazon link does not give me any points, rewards or money. It’s just there for your ease of use.

    Your disclaimer should be, “use the Amazon link I gave you and I get a small credit from Amazon for some of the things we use around here. Not required…but it won’t cost you a thing and every little bit helps!”

    Your time and advice are worth something. Short of writing a book, you have this blog. Were I you, I’d set up an Amazon affiliate program right away and just let everyone know that the links might garner you a few pennies here and there. It’s just a small slice of the Amazon pie.

    And for the record, I’d gladly send a subscription check over to you for this site. I learned more here than I did from the series of books I bought (from Amazon, ironically).

    • You’re right, there is an Amazon referral program I could join and probably should but haven’t had time to look into doing. I’ve been busy with other things… If you would please go to my Change.Org petition for a 48 hour day and a 500 day year then I might have time to get everything done. Or maybe not. The more time I have the more ideas I come up with of what I want to do… Maybe I’ll just have to live to 1,000 to get them all done. :)

      As to your thought of a subscription check, there actually are some people who’ve done that, sending a small donation monthly or yearly to help with the blog costs. The server costs $350 to $500 a year depending on how much bandwidth it uses. If you want to do that, a check in the mail is better than PayPal since they take 5% or so but PayPalling to my email address does work. Our address is on the Contact page. I very much appreciate those who have offered to help.

  2. L. Zell says:

    Started reading this on Tuesday. Absolutely wonderful so far, and I’m just barely into the chapter on tools. Picked it up based on your praises of the videos.

  3. Larry AJ says:

    Walter, have you heard about the pig virus in the midwest. It seems that it is especially fatal for young piglets. Here is a link to an article on it.

    • Yes, we’re watching it carefully. This and other diseases that could threaten our breeder and feeder herds is a very large part of why we don’t do tours, agri-tourism, etc. There are people who mistakenly think that only factory farms are affected by this. Viruses don’t care about politics. They are equal opportunity killers. Let us hope that this virus learns to coexist with its hosts like the common cold or even more mild ones rather than being a deadly killer like Ebola or HIV. It is important for viruses to learn to play nice so they don’t kill their prey.

  4. Jeremy Loucks says:

    What happened to the Facebook link? I’d really like to share this page with some friends!

    • Hmm… The FaceBook link shows below the Daily Spark when I load the page in my web browser. Try again. It is provided by a WordPress Plugin called Shareaholic and maybe they had a brief server problem. If that isn’t working for you then you can copy the web link from your browser address bar and paste it into FaceBook. Cheers, -Walter

  5. Chiral says:

    :D I already had this in my cart at amazon. Can’t quite afford it yet, but next time I order, I’ll be getting it. I have experience slaughtering and butchering rabbits and chickens, but the larger creatures are a bit intimidating. I’m looking to add pigs and sheep to my pastures (and my diet) over the next few years, and it’ll be nice to have a reference.

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