Review of The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig

pig bookIt’s hard to describe The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig. On the one hand, it’s a reference guide that takes you through all the parts of the pig, including the butt, ham, ribs, loins, chops, shoulder, and bacon (it’s sometimes easy to forget these all come from the same animal) and tells you the unique characteristics of each. On the other hand, it’s a cooking primer that tells you how to cook the different parts of the big, from how to properly fry bacon to how to set up a pit to roast a whole pig. On yet another hand, it’s a travel guide that brings you through some of the most amazing restaurants in the South that cook up pork dishes. And on still another hand, it’s a cookbook that has recipes for some of the best recipes from those restaurants, from pan-fried mac and cheese with kale and chorizo to sweet potato biscuits to bacon cinnamon pull-apart bread to slow-roasted pork shoulder to pecan-crusted pork tenderloin. And of course, there are recipes for barbecue sauce, from Texas style to Kansas City style to rubs from the Carolinas to Memphis to brines.

In short, it covers every part of the pig except for the oink. And while you think such a gargantuan effort (it clocks in at over 300 pages) might mean the content is watered down, each one of the sections could stand on its own. It was written by Chris Chamberlain, a food writer out of Nashville perhaps best known for The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous). In fact, this book pretty much follows the same winning formula that made that one a best-seller, except that it focuses on our porcine friends. As with the first book, this book is well-written, filled with color photographs and helpful tips you might not have thought of before (like 8 ways to use bacon grease). It’s the kind of book you can curl up and read parts of, but also keep in the kitchen as a reference for cooking, as well as take in the car with you for a trip down South.

If you haven’t read his original book, I’d definitely recommend you get that first. But if you’re particularly interested in pork and pork dishes (and who isn’t), this is a must-read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”