From the Introduction
First let us say what this book is not about. It is not a fast food book aimed at the soccer mom who needs to throw a meal on the table in half an hour (although a few recipes do serve that purpose). It is not a low-calorie, low-fat, "heart-healthy" cookbook (though efforts have been made to reduce fat, salt, and sugar content because that's just the smart thing to do). It is not an organic cookbook (though if you want to spend your money on organics it will not ruin any recipe).
This book is a compilation of hearty, time-tested, family-pleasing recipes that go well in a rustic environment but can still grace your formal city-home dining room. Most ingredients are commonly found at your local grocery store or in the fields, forest, and streams close by. A few more exotic ingredients, such as Sap Sago cheese or Mexican chocolate, etc., add such a distinctive flavor edge that they are worth acquiring from a specialty shop or from the online sources cited in Resources.
Most of the recipes in this book we have either created ourselves or significantly adapted from their traditional versions. The few that we have presented as we encountered them, we have attributed to their authors, where known.
This book is for the experienced family cook. We assume that you are familiar with the basic cooking methods; consequently, we do not explain in detail such processes as braising, sauteing, and the like. However, we do go into considerable detail discussing such processes as aging red meat and making stocks, which can provide that flavor edge that lifts a dish from the salubrious into the sublime.
Some of these recipes require four days from start to finish (thereby giving a new meaning to "slow food"); however, with the exception of making stock, no recipe requires more than one hour of total hands-on time.
All recipes that require long preparation times can be made more quickly, but there will be some significant loss of flavor. You can go to the supermarket, buy a cut of beef, and make, the very same day, a pot roast that will satisfy and nourish your family and guests. But it will not bear the inimitably dusky, intensely carnal flavor of the pot roast made from aged beef and homemade stock, the one we designate as Noble Pot Roast. You just have to taste this dish to believe it, and having tasted it, we guarantee the flavor will linger in your memory.
With the exception of the salads (which have been included for their flavor and texture contrast and because they're what we set on our own table), all these recipes can be made using cast iron cookware-indeed, the flavor of most dishes is enhanced thereby...