Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry, aka The Paleo Parents, have knocked one out of the ‘pork’ (sorry, couldn’t resist) with their latest contribution, Beyond Bacon. For me, pork has always taken the back seat to my long standing love affair with beef, but I can honestly say that this beautifully designed book has given me plenty of reason to apply its title to my preferences and move beyond bacon, sausage, and the occasional pork loin.
The book opens with a forward by the man, the myth, the legend, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm. If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Salatin’s work, he is the pope of sustainable farming. He has shown the world that the current agricultural practices used to produce the majority of the foods in our grocery stores are nothing short of terrible. As his popularity has grown over the last few years, I have dared to hope for change that I otherwise did not believe was possible. The fact that Mr. Salatin contributed a forward to this book would have been enough to make me give it a read.
If you expected Stacy and Matt to dive right into a slew of amazing pork recipes, I was right there with you, but we were both wrong. There is, of course, the obligatory “how we got here” stuff, which is important for those who are just finding this lifestyle, but I am most impressed with the level of depth that they included on exactly why they decided to write an entire book on pork, how to find pastured pork and why you should, information on the animal breeds and pig farming, and exactly how to order cuts from your butcher when you buy a whole hog. There is even a bit of science on the subjects of saturated fat and trichinosis. The whole section, titled “Why We Wrote This Love Letter to Pork,” is very insightful and I encourage you to resist the temptation to skip ahead to the recipes if you usually do so with cookbooks.
As for the recipes, prepare to be pleasantly surprised with both the quality and quantity of selections in this book, all broken up into sensible sections that make it easy to find what you’re looking for and stumble on thing you hadn’t thought of yet. In The Basics, you will learn things like how to render your own lard and how to make sausages and pancetta. Play with Fire addresses grilling and smoking. All the staples are in there, too, like soups and stews, tenderloins and carnitas, and pork chops. I am personally particularly interested in trying the recipes in the Fried Lard Goodness section. Paleo versions of corn dogs and sweet and sour pork are just too much to pass up. Beyond Bacon rounds out nicely with Veggies and Sides, Sauces and Dressing, and Sweet Thangs for those special occasions.
At the risk of sounding unrealistic and contrived, I have no complaints about this book. The layout is beautiful, the info is great, and the recipes are fantastic. I think it is a brilliant addition to my library and I think you will agree. If you buy it and love it, be sure to tell your friends. Stacy and Matt put a lot of hard work into this book and I hope it is a huge success. Order your copy today here from Amazon!