In the first installment of our cookbook and gift pairings, we focused on The Art of Fermentation. We move on to the notable protein-themed cookbooks released this year, with a little something to go along with your latest Great Meat Cookbook gift endeavors.

Because if you bought it on Amazon for 40% off (or even if you didn't), a cookbook today really always benefits from a little added gift inflation. A gift certificate to Lindy & Grundy, a really good pair of Oxo tongs, or actually, a slab of Black Pig's heritage bacon tied on top. What could be more eco-friendly than an edible bow? Tell your (lucky) recipients they can go on that vegan cleanse in January while you polish of what's left of their salami. Get our favorite 2012 books after the jump.

Bruce Aidells + Cava Under The Kitchen Tree; Credit: jgarbee

Bruce Aidells + Cava Under The Kitchen Tree; Credit: jgarbee

The Great Meat Cookbook + Pink Bubbly:

Our meat times have changed. This 600+ page manual is a must for anyone with aspirations to taste their way through the vast number of meat cuts and types of meat on the market today (Heritage, organic, grass-fed?). Sure, if you're a traditionalist, you could hand over a bottle of Cabernet to go with Bruce Aidells' coffee-chili bison short rib recipe. But when you're dealing with one of the cookbook kings of meat (he has written eleven cookbooks), red wine feels like the expected, old-school glass on the table.

How about a pink holiday sparkler to fuel the current wine pairing debates? Many sparkling rosé wines, with that Pinot grape thing going on, are actually great with pork (check out Sunset Magazine's recommendations). Our gift favorite this time of year: Juve y Camps Brut Rosé Cava — an intriguing sip in a gorgeous bottle that does double duty for New Year's Eve. Thumbnail these pork recipes in Aidells' book, and maybe you'll even get invited to the tasting dinner (Gift tag: Happy Holidays! Hint, hint): Seared pork t-bone loin chips with cider-braised apples, baked chops with bacon, pomegranate and pine nut relish, Caribbean pork kebabs with sweet potato and pecan relish. Ya, bring an extra bottle of Cava.

Salumi + Salumi; Credit: jgarbee

Salumi + Salumi; Credit: jgarbee

Salumi + A Blind Salumi Tasting:

The guy who you sat next to at Mozza's salumi bar, the one who couldn't stop talking about capicola the whole damn night? He really needs Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's latest, Salumi: The Craft of Dry Curing. [Note: The Art of Charcuterie, released last year, is another great pick.] In Salumi, you'll find recipes for all the Italian classics — guanciale, coppa, spalla, lardo, lonza, pancetta, prosciutto, and salami. Gift warning: How to butcher a hog, both Italian and American-style, is included, though if you're giving this to a cured meat fanatic, we presume he/she can handle the reality of what is on their plate.

To go along with the book, how about a blind salami tasting in light of all the artisan-is-better talk of late? Particularly if you're giving the book to an aspiring salumi sommelier (we're joking; seriously, please don't make us add that word to our most-hated list). All the more fun: In recent years, large companies known for their mass-produced salamis, like San Francisco-based Columbus, have been showcasing their artisan lines with renewed vigor at specialty grocers (Bristol Farms) and delis like Bay Cities. Columbus actually launched the line in the late 1990s, long before the artisan craze.

And you know, the traditional, Italian-style cacciatore and chubby little crespone (pictured above) that we tasted were impressive, and half the price of many small-batch salamis. Are they as good as Creminelli's casalingo (the “casa” or house recipe)? That's what blind tastings are for. Take the labels off and slice the salamis in half — you're going to want to save some for yourself; gift giver's privilege. Take them along on your next cocktail hour outing to Mozza and see how that chatty Capicola fares.

See also:

A Cookbook Gift Pairing: The 2012 Fermented Edition

Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Find more from Jenn Garbee @eathistory +

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