By Chris Chamberlin
Published by Thomas Nelson
Back Cover: Chris Chamberlain, author of the popular The Southern Foodie Cookbook, takes you back to the South for a tour of the restaurants that make the best pig dishes.
When Ben Franklin lobbied his fellow founding fathers to consider the wild turkey as our young country’s national symbol, perhaps he should have considered the pig. Arguably the most democratic of all proteins, pork is welcome across the country from a gourmet pork belly dish on the menu of the toniest Charleston bistro to a whole hog roasting in a hole dug in the sand of a beach in LA (Lower Alabama).
Pork is also uniquely democratic in that it is a meat that is welcome at every meal. The old saw goes that when considering a breakfast of bacon and eggs, “the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.” While you may occasionally see a breakfast steak on the menu, the pig is the star of the morning meal. A thick-sliced smoked bologna purchased from a gas station deli in rural Tennessee is the perfect working man’s lunch, unless you consider the ultimate demonstration of the nose-to-tail versatility of the pig, a snoot sandwich made from a boiled hog’s nose slapped between two slices of white bread. Feel free not to consider that for too long…
The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig takes you on several journeys. An anatomic survey of the pig introduces readers to all the parts of this versatile animal and teaches procedures and recipes to prepare all sorts of wonderful dishes. A geographic tour of the Southern states will showcase restaurants in the region that have particular talents when it comes to pork. The chefs and pit masters have shared some of their most sacred secrets, the actual recipes for the best pork, barbecue and bacon dishes that emerge from their kitchens. Finally, since man cannot live by pig alone (unfortunately), there is also a selection of recipes that are great accompaniments to the pork dishes contributed by the fifty Southern restaurants that are featured.
So feel free to keep a copy of this book in your glove box to help you find the best place for an elegant meal in Atlanta or that hidden gem of a barbecue joint in Kentucky. Or get this book a little dirty in the kitchen as you take your own tour of the South’s best pork dishes while you plan your meals for the week. Either way you use it, it’s a journey well worth taking.
ABOUT AUTHOR: Chris Chamberlain is a food and drink writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, where he has lived his entire life except for four years in California where he studied liberal arts at Stanford University and learned how to manipulate chopsticks. He is a regular writer for the Nashville Scene and their "Bites" food blog. He has also contributed to the Nashville City Paper, Nashville Lifestyles magazine, 2001 Edgehill and at www.geardiary.com.
REVIEW: This is not your typical cookbook, it’s so much more. I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that had me look at a pig in a whole new way.
The author states, “This book will take readers on several different journeys’. First an anatomic survey of the pig…will introduce readers to the individual parts of this versatile animal, and you’ll learn procedures and recipes to prepare all sorts of wonderful dishes (I found this interesting and very helpful)
….then a geographic tour of Southern states showcasing restaurants in the region that have particular talents when it comes to pork… the contributing Chef’s include world- championship competition barbecue pit Masters, other champions and some Chef's seen on TV…recipes in the cookbook range from down-home to upscale, simple to complex, demonstrating the myriad ways that the pig can contribute to the Southern kitchen but all of them have been scaled and edited to make them appropriate to try in your own home kitchen…There are recipe contributions from fifty southern restaurants ... and some from favorite chefs across the South.”
I liked the “Pig Tale” segments. They gave nuggets about pig history and the origin of popular phrases like, “Sweating like a pig,” “Pig in a poke” and several others. It was interesting to learn about the fifty restaurants and the dishes they are known for. The author shares a little bit about the restaurant's history and the Chef's, why it was chosen; their profile, address, website, etc. Also included is an insider tips segment giving pointers for when you do visit the restaurant. I like that the author included the page number of the recipes from the restaurant for easy reference.
I really enjoyed this book on a number of levels which include beautiful color pictures enhancing this journey through the Southern states and their use of the pig. The recipes are broken down into different segments. The first is Drinks; I want to try the Mint Ice tea, and Watermelon strawberry lemonade (there are many more) Then Breakfast, I wanted to first try the Bacon and potato Casserole and Country ham and red-eye gravy. In the Bread section; Sweet Potato biscuits with pecans, Bacon and Cheddar Biscuits and Bacon-crusted cornbread look good. Under Soups and Salads Bar-B-Q Brisket Chili, Brunswick stew look good. Sides there are the Pan-Fried Mac and Cheese with kale; Crescent Pie and Sausage company sound good. Entrees I want to try Gulf shrimp with Tasso cream sauce and old fashioned cornbread, Bacon meatballs and BLTA Bites and Loui’s Shrimp and Grits with bacon. Then last but not least Desserts; Bacon Peanut Butter cookies, Candied bacon and white chocolate coconut bread pudding, Sweet Tea Pie. There are so many great yummy sounding recipes to try in this amazing book. I can’t wait to dig into making the recipes I mentioned and the many I didn’t. You will too!
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