SYNOPSIS: Man, woman, and beautiful children meet happy, healthy pig and fall in love. This is the story of their journey together and a glowing tribute to the pig’s ultimate sacrifice. SPOILER ALERT: The pig is delicious!
I thought myself pretty well-versed in “pig”; after all, I have spent many a day preparing and smoking pork shoulders, various and sundry racks of ribs, and pork bellies. And of course rib chops, pork loins, ham, sausage, prosciutto, and bacon are dear to my heart. However, as I dug into Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog by Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry, I realized that there’s a lot I didn’t know about that whole hog. This is more than a book of recipes – Stacy and Matthew lead you through the life of a pig by visiting farms and getting to know the farmers and the history of pig cultivation. You will learn about different breeds, and why pastured pork is superior to factory-farmed meat. There’s an incredibly helpful section detailing how to order a whole hog, including an example of a “cut sheet”. Who knew there were so many options?
I could go on about the wealth of practical information found in Beyond Bacon, but I bet you’re here to find out about the recipes. First, although these recipes are “paleo” and the authors of this book are the Paleo Parents, you need not follow the paleo diet to appreciate everything in this book. Many people associate paleo-eating with some sort of deprivation or inferior recipe work-arounds. These recipes fully demonstrate that is not the case! The variety of cooking methods alone, including grilling, smoking, braising, stewing, roasting, and deep frying in lard, ensures there is something here to make every meat eater happy. There are also plenty of unique vegetable and side dishes to swoon over, and desserts as well. Each recipe is beautifully photographed by Aimee Buxton, and many recipes offer valuable cooking “tips”. Most importantly, they do justice to the whole hog, from the pig ears to the trotters.
Reading through Beyond Bacon, I started flagging recipes I wanted to try first with Post-Its – - I had to stop because it seemed like I was flagging everything. I am initially hampered because I do not have any rendered lard – something I plan on remedying asap using the instructions provided in the book. I decided on “Kale & Pistachio Stuffed Pork Chops” for my first venture, because I felt safe in substituting rendered bacon fat for the lard. I waited for my CSA box, expecting kale, but instead I got swiss chard. No matter – this recipe is so good it can stand-up to some improv. The combination of greens and pistachios, seasoned with lemon, garlic, and coriander – it was perfect, fresh and zesty.
I’m not going to share the recipe here (yes, this is a teaser) – you’ll have to pick up the book for that! In the meantime, you can find some of the recipes from the book on the Paleo Parents’ website, including this great recipe for Asian Short Ribs.
I want to sincerely thank Stacy and Matthew for the opportunity to review Beyond Bacon. This book is obviously a work of love, and we here at She Cooks, He Cleans feel honored. Stacy and Matthew stated their goal is to “show people that food without grains, legumes, dairy, or refined sugar can be spectacularly delicious and beautiful, while also nourishing the body and sustaining the earth”. I’d say they have achieved that goal! If you love pork, pick up this book and don’t forget to “Praise the Lard!” ~Nancy