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The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  1,189 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
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 o ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 30th 2004 by Ecco (first published May 7th 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 30, 2014 Adam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
Fergus Henderson has done you a favour. He's captured much of what's great about British food and culture, and what the possibilities of building on the traditional foundations of British cuisine are, in one book. Further, he's written it in a charming, droll, wonderful style that's hard to describe very well but makes the best reading to be found in any cookbook, surely. It has become one of my favourite books of any kind.

Look, this thing's a cult food classic, maybe not even just an object of
Nicholas Aune
May 21, 2015 Nicholas Aune rated it really liked it
Fergus Henderson's Opus. This book is one of the most influential cookbooks of our time. Fergus embraces British classic country dishes that have fallen to the way side and approaches each dish with a respect towards the ingredient . Although they have become vogue now, originally, these recipes weren't restaurant-y. Just simple and delicious. That being said, you won't be able to find a lot of the ingredients at a Whole Foods. It's not a casual cookbook. Knowledge on techniques and how to appro ...more
May 05, 2011 Katie added it
Shelves: cookbooks
This book is already blowing my mind.
Mar 03, 2008 Mark rated it liked it
Recommends it for: thomas conner
Not sure how to rate a cookbook. That said, I adore Henderson's style of presenting these recipes, the simple directness of his language, the fact that he'd even compile such a book. Yet I'm sure he could do it in his sleep, given that he lives and breathes these findings every day in the kitchen. Of course, having Deep Brain Stimulation (a medical term of art, I reckon) to deal with his Parkinson's adds a bracing irony: A man so besotted with lambs' brains that he included four recipes for them ...more
Whilst I agree with the premise of this book [if you're going to eat meat, be respectful to the animal and make use of all parts of it] the actual recipes chosen to use odd cuts aren't very much to my taste. I think the recipes are (a) too meat heavy and (b) quite 'restaurant-y'.... Some of the ingredients are also quite hard to get hold of!

However, it's worth reading in part because it was such a seminal cookbook, and it's also interesting to compare 'traditional' british cooking to other Europ
Jan 07, 2016 Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food, non-fiction
Now this is an interesting cook book... Will I try everything in here? Highly unlikely, but I just might be encouraged to brave something a little new and different. This book routinely discusses pig's trotters, various organs, and does it with style. That is specifically why I looked it up. I am starting to very seriously consider meat shopping outside of the grocery store. If I'm going to work with a farmer and a butcher to get a whole or half animal, suddenly I'm faced with deciding what part ...more
Feb 16, 2014 Diana rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
Many wonderful recipes in here that have become household staples...and others I wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. I am not a real nose-to-tail eater, so there are certain recipes best left to my husband to make. Happy to eat the results, I just don't need to be involved!
Mar 15, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cook
I don't usually rave about cookbooks - they are useful tools and can be well-written, not works of art per se.

This is an AMAZING cookbook. It manages to be accessible and well-written despite its elevated and complex if uncomplicated recipes. And I love the combinations and (to me) craziness of the recipes. They are audacious in the best way possible. Never have I wanted to brine a piece of offal in my life, but now I cannot wait to try duck hearts on toast! I only wish I could make a trip to St
Mar 12, 2009 De rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly an experience in appreciating food which we Americans waste so much of. I posted pictures on my FB page when my husband and I brought home a pig's head and were surprised at the number of friends who eat everything a pig has to offer (unknowingly I suppose) but were distressed that an animal had to be killed. My husband and I definitely believe in showing respect to the animals that we eat by eating all of it, not just the steaks roasts and chops in that horrible cellophane packaging. Anyw ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Nathan rated it it was amazing
This is a pretty gnarly cookbook if ever there was one, but I like the Henderson's approach to food as far as championing putting "the whole beast" to use, instead of just scarfing down a lifetime of boneless chicken breasts and hamburgers. The biggest problem with this cookbook is being able to find its recipes ingredients, not to mention the fortitude required in order to actually eat the finished product. Thankfully I've located a couple butchers who sale some of this books key ingredients... ...more
Scott VanDerVelde
Jun 17, 2016 Scott VanDerVelde rated it it was amazing
A cult classic that can't be over-estimated. Everything I've made out of this has been crack. Fergus Henderson is the high wizard and anyone who says English cooking is dead or bland is a supreme bellend.
Jun 13, 2012 Cinnamon rated it it was amazing
Since I purchased a half pig and have some trotters, a couple of hearts, a kidney, half a head, and half a liver to turn into something delicious, I thought this would be the obvious place to go for inspiration. So far, it made excited to make spinach and mushroom lasagna, which isn't in the book, but I had the ingredients and felt like a slacker when I looked at the box of mac'n'cheese.

The thing I found surprising about this book are absolutely delicious-sounding vegetable recipes in this book.
Intriguing concept, to be sure, but not a book I would actually cook from. However, if you like to use uncommon cuts of meat or are interested in using a whole animal (say, if you just got a whole cow from a local farmer and need to know what the heck to do with the odd pieces), then this book would be a fantastic reference.
Mar 03, 2012 Problemchild rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is no surprise that Anthony Bourdain wrote the preface to the "Whole Hog" edition as this small white volume deals with the delicacy of those parts of the pigs that some would say were never meant to see the light of day.

It is more than a cookbook, it is philosophy, it explores the fundamentals of the pig, the it is the discovery of Henderson's passion for his subject and he guides us with wit and very unique way of walking the reader through the recipes. A warning though, these recipes take
Garrett May
Dec 20, 2015 Garrett May rated it it was amazing
Part of the foodie bible. Must read.
Diane Ramirez
Aug 04, 2008 Diane Ramirez rated it really liked it
The Whole Beast is wonderfully written and as a former vegetarian of the "based on moral reasons" camp, the idea of using all of an animal appeals strongly to me. In the spirit of full disclosure, however, I will have to admit that the book must have disturbed me down deep because I had a nightmare that I'm still trying to shake off -- more than a week later. A well-written cookbook that's provocative? That doesn't happen too often. And I didn't even WANT to make any of the recipes...
Jul 31, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it
Yes, I am a vegetarian, but I still found this book absolutely fascinating. I am a huge fan of "waste not want not" and this chef has some really interesting ideas for using every bit. I loved the descriptions and ingredients--trotters, welsh rarebit, crispy pigs tails, treacle tart. Some are gross but fascinating. There is a very tasty recipe for brown bread at the end that I think I am going to try to make tonight!
Aug 14, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing
Although I have always eaten offal, or ' variety meat ' as our American friends often coyly refer, Fergus is sometimes attributed as the man who put it on restaurant plates.
Not that this is the only subject of this lovely book. It is said that the only part of a pig you cannot use is its grunt, Fergus sets out to prove it!
Jul 23, 2012 Patty rated it really liked it
I'm on page 153 of 224 of The Whole Beast: I am absolutely loving this cookbook so far. The author has written like a cook, not a chef. No pretension or stodginess. Just easygoing, charming, and often humorous instructions. Rarely do I laugh out loud at a cookbook!
Apr 26, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it
A recipe book on how to use the whole animal. The title pretty much tells you all you need to know.

Bourdain gives an intro and does nothing short of worshiping this chef.

I can't wait to try some of these recipes, now to find a supplier of pig blood...
J. Ryan Horan
Oct 19, 2007 J. Ryan Horan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading if for Henderson's palyful language alone. The recipes are a little daunting (Eel, bacon and prune pie, anyone?) but it provides a window into the modern re-assertion of traditional British cooking and one of the true figureheads of that movement.
Mar 20, 2012 Kathie rated it it was amazing
This is a foodies dream come true!! I had a lot of fun making the recipes in this book and passed several copies on to my friends. If you love food and love to adventure with your food this is a must have! All true foodies have this book. Its like our Bible!
Feb 20, 2008 Ben rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food-books
Scary and intriguing. It features simple and unintimidating recipes alongside terrifying concoctions I can only hope were born long, long ago in the deepest of Anglo-Saxon starvation. I never thought I'd find myself longing for crispy pig's tails.
Feb 17, 2011 Rigzin rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
This book was delicious to read. I could almost hear Fergus Henderson narrate the instructions to me. Definitely the most handsomely written cook book. Can't wait to prepare some Tripe and Onions for my friends and St. John's Eccles cake for me.
Aug 11, 2011 Erika added it
An interesting cookery book, and very well written to boot. I'll be the first to admit I've approached it with trepidation so far.. but soon, I promise! Marrow bones ... mmmm
Sep 14, 2009 Dale rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking-food
This is hard core cooking. Not for the weak of heart, or palate. Ever wonder what to do with pigs feet? How about lambs tongue? This masterpiece has all the answers.
May 18, 2011 Matthew rated it really liked it
Not necessarily the right book for my kitchen. But if I raised my own animals, I would definitely consult this masterpiece to make the most of their lives.
Jan 11, 2008 stew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Minimal recipes for honest food that benefit from Chef Henderson's dry and comic tone as well as the book's no bullshit photography. A modern classic.
Cannonhistory Potter
Apr 11, 2012 Cannonhistory Potter rated it it was amazing
Awesome Christmas gift...especially if the recipient (in this case ME!) is willing to try some unique cuts and some interesting recipes.

Oct 23, 2012 Juha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just something essential to give you the basics of using the whole animal, a way to think outside the overproduced modern day food.
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