Beyond Bacon – Cookbook Review

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Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog By Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry (Victory Belt Publishing, 2013)          

Beyond Bacon

Paean to Pork Many people try to divorce the food they eat from the animals that provide the sustenance. Beyond Bacon is not for them. In this self-described “love letter to pork,” pictures of lively little piggies prancing through fields are followed by whole page, full-color photos of butchers attending to lumps of fat and muscle. With diagrams of cuts, nutritional analyses of brains, hearts and bone broth and a how-to guide for rendering your own lard, not much is left to the imagination here. Authors Stacy and Matt have a very personal, no-nonsense approach to making use of every piece of pig with utmost respect for “the whole hog.” This attitude is illustrated by their decision to resurrect an old favorite after being at first repulsed, then intrigued, by an ardent lament from Stacy’s grandfather about the disappearance of good head cheese. We know we’re in for an adventure when the recipe begins with “place the butchered pork skull in a very large stockpot.” Recipes also make use of liver, lard, ham hocks (also known as “pork knuckles”) and trotters (feet). Challenging but not uncompromising, recipes often suggest simple variations or recommend having butchers prepare unfamiliar cuts, such as tongue, beforehand. There are many hearty, delicious and Paleo-friendly recipes, from Smoked Pork Belly to Asian Short Ribs to Insanely Awesome Meatloaf. A sampling of sweet-and-savory desserts includes Yellow Lard Cake and Prosciutto and Roasted Peach Ice Cream. This book is not for every cook, but it certainly does well what it sets out to do: go waaaay beyond bacon.

Reviewed by Rachel DeRiso

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