Review & Giveaway: Beyond Bacon

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Let’s just say it right up front: piggies are really cute, and piggies are really, really delicious.

No one knows that better than Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry, a.k.a., the Paleo Parents and authors of both  Eat Like a Dinosaur (which I previously reviewed) and the beautiful new paleo cookbook Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog.

Beyond Bacon encourages us to Praise the Lard! and Go Whole Hog! for pork.

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Things I like about this book…

It makes a strong case for happy, healthy pigs.
There is no doubt that healthy animals make us healthier, but finding a source for pastured pork — then managing all that meat when it finds it way into your house (you have an extra freezer, right?!) — can be overwhelming. This book provides helpful tips for finding and ordering pastured pork, then digs into the health benefits of eating snout to (curly) tail. Joel Salatin liked their approach so much, he wrote the foreword.

The photography is luscious.
Paleo cookbooks have successfully transitioned from “it’s nice for a ‘healthy’ cookbook” to “competitive with any cookbook on the market” in terms of their photography, writing, and recipe innovations. Beyond Bacon is packed with fatty, scrumptious recipes accompanied by magazine-worthy photos. This makes me very excited that paleo will continue to move from its “fad diet” reputation to serious foodiness… because, really, eating this way isn’t only about “dieting,” it’s about quality of life and the wonderfulness of how food makes literally  makes us who we are and brings us together.

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The recipes are well-written and tasty.
To truly review a cookbook would require making at least a handful of the recipes. I had time to make only one recipe from Beyond Bacon (Mexican Chorizo) so I’m cheating you a bit. But I can tell you that in all the recipes I read — and I read a bunch of them because who could resist Swedish Meatballs, The Best Brownies (made with lard!), Piggie Pot Pie, or Salted Caramel Bacon Sauce?! — the instructions are clear and the technique is pretty darn good. I’m super picky about recipe explanations because I know not everyone grew up in their parents’ restaurant kitchen and don’t necessarily have kitchen skills. For the most part, the instructions are clear and the recipes aren’t overly complicated, so it should work for cooks of all experience levels.

The Mexican Chorizo I made was tangy from the cider vinegar and flecked with bits of chiles. See? (Pssst... the recipe for the plantain chips in the photo will be in Well Fed 2.)

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A few things to note…

The use of olive oil.
As you know from my recipes here on the blog and Well Fed, I’m a stickler for using olive oil in cooking only over very low heat. (High heat can oxidize olive oil, which can lead to inflammation.) At least one of the recipes in Beyond Bacon calls for olive oil in the cooking process at a high temperature. This is a minor quibble because it’s simple to replace that olive oil with melted coconut oil, or remaining in the spirit of the book, melted lard. But just a heads up to keep an eye out for that in all of your cooking.

It’s all paleo, but flirts with Treatland for me.
The vast majority of the recipes in the book are compliant with the way I eat (a.k.a., stick in the mud, Whole30 approved most of the time), or can be easily modified to be compliant. This is an ambitious, admirably far-ranging cookbook, so it also includes dishes that are tantalizingly tempting — but also higher in fat and sugar than I would eat on a regular occasion. Ingredients like maple syrup, dark chocolate, honey, tapioca flour, almond milk, and palm sugar make a few appearances. I wouldn’t deem this book only suitable for special occasions — there are plenty of recipes for everyday use. I’d say it’s half and half: lots of meat and veg recipes you can make any day of the week, plus treats for special occasions when you want to indulge your sweet tooth or eat a “CORN” DOG!

You might need some special ingredients.
Because the book is based on using all parts of the pig — which is an idea I love — it also requires you to acquire potentially unusual parts that you might only be able to get if you buy a whole or partial pig. Many recipes call for lard (which you can replace with another saturated fat, but it will change the flavor) and pork stock (which is awesome sauce, but again… you might not have it in your pantry on a regular basis). Having said all that, as a woman addicted to spices, I’m not averse to recipes that require special ingredients, I’m just giving you a heads-up.

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Want to bring home the bacon? Get in on the giveaway!

UPDATE: The drawing is closed and the winner has been notified. Thanks for playing along!

To Enter: Post to comments and tell us your favorite part of the piggy.

Deadline: 11:59 p.m. Central on Thursday, July 11, 2012. I’ll randomly select a winner and make the announcements/notification on July 12.

Restrictions: Sorry, international friends… U. S. residents only.

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Buy a copy…

Why wait to see if chance favors you? Why not buy a copy of Beyond Bacon now?!

If you’re one of those paleo people who loves to eat, and you enjoy playing in the kitchen, and you’re ready to up the ante with pastured pork, Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog is the book to help you do it.

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The fine print: I received a complimentary copy of this book, but all opinions are mine. If you use the links above to purchase the book through Amazon, I earn a small commission.

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