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Down Home with the Neelys: A Southern Family Cookbook Hardcover – May 12, 2009

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The Hungry Fan's Game Day Cookbook: 165 Recipes for Eating, Drinking & Watching Sports by Daina Falk
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Book Description
Meet the Neelys: Pat and Gina, husband-and-wife team, hosts of their own television show, and proprietors of the celebrated Memphis and Nashville eateries, Neely’s Bar-B-Que.

The Neelys’ down-home approach to cooking has earned them the highest accolades from coast to coast. It has also won them millions of viewers on the Food Network. Simply put, the Neelys are all about good food and good times. In this, their eagerly awaited debut cookbook, the Neelys share the delicious food they have been cooking up for years both at home and in their restaurants.

Pat and Gina hail from families with a boundless love of cooking and bedrock traditions of sharing meals. At the Neelys’, mealtime is family time, and that means no stinting on “the sauce.” Indeed, that’s one of the Neely secrets: the liberal application of barbeque sauce to almost anything—spaghetti, nachos, salad, you name it. Of course, there are other secrets as well, and you will find them all in the pages of Down Home with the Neelys, along with more than 120 mouthwatering recipes.

Here are the tried-and-true southern recipes that have been passed down from one Neely generation to the next, including many of their signature dishes, such as Barbeque Deviled Eggs, Florida Coast Pickled Shrimp, Pat’s Wings of Fire, Gina’s Collard Greens, Grandma Jean’s Potato Salad, Nana’s Southern Gumbo, Memphis-sized Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Slaw, Get Yo’ Man Chicken, and Sock-It-to-Me Cake. Certainly, no self-respecting southerner would dream of offering a meal to a guest without a proper drink, so Pat and Gina have included some of their favorite libations here, too.

The Neelys work, laugh, love, and play harder than any family you’ll ever meet. Their love for good food is infectious, and in Down Home with the Neelys, they bring their heavenly inspired cooking down to earth for all to share.

From Down Home with the Neelys: Sweet and Spicy Slaw

Pat: In Memphis, if you run a barbecue joint, you better have coleslaw on your menu and it better be good (ours is some of the very best). Indeed, you could spend a day in Memphis tasting slaw from rib joints all over town. And yet there are people who visit our fair city who are hesitant to try it, especially folks from the West Coast. This is a mystery to me. Coleslaw and pulled pork go together like lettuce and tomatoes on a burger, and salted peanuts in a bottle of pop (I bet some of you haven’t tried that, either).

Bottom line: You come down Memphis way, you have to try our slaw. When we started Neely’s, Tony and I recognized the importance of slaw and knew we would have to come up with a killer recipe, one that would complement our sandwiches and our sauce. It had to be sweet yet spicy, because our barbecue sauce was truly mild. We also wanted it to be coarse and fresh (with a little onion flavor, and carrots for color). A big key for us was using two types of pepper, black and cayenne, which work together as well as Tony and I do. Then came some sugar, as sweet as my Gina. All of these ingredients have given us a coleslaw we are very proud of. For years in the restaurant this was my dish—no one made it for either location but me. I didn’t use measuring cups; everything was done by feel. As we grew, I knew I would eventually have to develop it into a standard recipe so others could make it. Now we have customers who come in and buy slaw by the bucket to take home and have with their catfish, spaghetti, or whatever they are cooking. This recipe will convert even those West Coast hard-liners who claim they “don’t eat slaw.”

Gina: On our show, we like to tease that Pat is the sweet and I am the spicy (only my man knows for sure!). At Neely’s restaurants, the famous and addictive coleslaw happens to be both. We often double this recipe for parties, because leftovers are so delicious (and a food processor makes quick work of all that shredding). When making this slaw at home, it’s a good idea to use both red and green cabbage. It’ll give your slaw more color. Be sure to select the freshest, best-looking cabbage available for the prettiest, crispest, and crunchiest coleslaw you have ever tasted.


  • 1 small head green cabbage
  • 1 small head red cabbage
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black
  • pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt

(Serves 6 to 8)


Cut the cabbages into quarters and remove the cores. Peel the carrots and onion, and slice them into pieces that will fit through the feed tube of a food processor. Fit the food processor with the large-holed grater attachment, and push the cabbage, carrots, and onion through the feed tube to grate. In a large bowl, toss the grated cabbage, carrots, and onions to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and cayenne (whisk until the sugar is dissolved). Toss the dressing with the coleslaw, and season with salt and additional pepper to taste. Cover the slaw with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

(Neelys photo © Shelly Strazis)

From Publishers Weekly

Husband-and-wife television personalities with their own Tennessee chain of barbecue joints, the Neelys unveil their first cookbook, full of 120 recipes that pull back the curtain on their award-winning seasonings, sauce, and fixings. Emphasizing their personal story and family recipes, this cookbook is brimming with down-home personality ("Girl, my favorite nut is the pecan!") and dishes that are "simple, stylish, and not too fussy." Those include tweaked standards like Warm Artichoke and Collard Greens Dip, Southern Crostinis featuring pimento cheese, Broccoli Cheddar Cornbread, and sweet potatoes with Marshmallow Streusel. Entrees include the expected (Pat's Wings of Fire, Spicy Fried Chicken, Old-Fashioned Glazed Ham, barbecued ribs, chicken and fish), the unexpected (Barbecue Spaghetti, Deep-Fried Pork Chops) and the playful in-between (like Get Yo' Man Chicken). They don't skimp on desserts either, including Momma Neely's "calling card," Sock-It-to-Me Cake, a yellow cake with streusel filling perfect for ending a meal or starting the day. Family stories, wise sourcing tips and plenty of commentary from Pat and Gina make this a warm, welcome addition to any cooking library's Southern shelf.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307269949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307269942
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The recipes in this are great...however be careful...there are some serious printing issues. For the famouse sock it to me cake it only calls for 1/4 cup of flour (I did some searching on foodtv.com and it is suppose to be 2 1/4 cup of flour. Also for the glaze it only calls for 1/2 a cup of sugar which is way off and the glaze is VERY runny....I have not tried other recipes yet. So BE CAREFUL!!
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Format: Hardcover
My plan was to make dinner on 3 July to last through the 4th of July. I cooked the Collard Greens, Spicy Chicken, Cheesy Corkscrews w/Crunchy Bacon Toppings and the Broccoli & Cheese Cornbread. My warning sense went off when the book's recipe called for 1/4 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar in only 3 cups of water but I ignored it (and if collards are naturally sweet, why add so much more sugar?). Even with me adding additional water, I still felt the meal was high on the salt content for the collards and the Mac & Cheese. The Spicy Chicken and Cornbread were ok, nothing to call home about. I'm not sure if the issue in my case was measurements being off as other reviewers have stated for other recipes or just incompatibility between the Neely's taste and mine. Either way, even though I love the show, I cannot recommend this book. Please understand that this is based on only personally trying 4 of the book's recipes but adding in the other recipes with measurement issues (confirmed with visiting Food Network) listed on this site, I have to give it below a below average grade.
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Format: Hardcover
Before giving an opinion on the contents, I have to qualify this by saying that I met the Neely's at our downtown bookstore for their signing of their first foray into publishing. This incredible couple is truly the REAL deal...........you wanted them to come by your house and visit. They made you feel that you were the only one there; they were so kind, gracious, and sincere; THANK YOU! What you see on TV is exactly that same warm and welcoming embrace that you receive in person. You just can't picture them apart because God knew them for each other.

This book is a concrete affirmation of the love of marriage and the bond of family. It isn't just a cookbook; it is a proud weaving of the Neely family, both as a couple and as a restaurant business. You are welcomed into the humble and touching story of William and Lorine Neely; their struggles and challenges in life and how they instilled the work ethic into their five young sons and daughter. Those very same work ethics would become the basis for building the business and food empire that we have come to know and love and appreciate as Neely's. How Pat and Gina came to be completes the story circle.

After a most gracious and heartfelt introduction from another great Southern gal who we all know and love, and whose sons discovered this great family, Paula Deen, we are given two versions of the wonderful story of love and life, each by Gina and Pat themselves. You'll feel the warmth and love as you read the tale of how two young kids, kindred spirits since highschool, came into their own, and finally got married. Photos are many and scattered about so that you can place the names and faces and dates together as you visually "read" their story.
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Format: Hardcover
I must first say that I am a huge fan of Food Network and most of its programs. I remember watching the premiere of the Neely's cooking segment and immediately thought, "I can't wait for their cookbook to come out!" A few years later and here we are...

It is hard to articulate my disappointment in this book. As another reviewer has already noted, some of the measurements are not correct from the show and food network's website. This can be especially troublesome when baking!

Also, I didn't really appreciate the lenghty introductions. We get an introduction from Paula Deen...and introductions from Pat Neely and Gina Neely, as well as information on their backgrounds and how they met. While this is sweet, I found it a bit unnecessary for a cookbook. Save it for the memoir!

I also didn't really groove to the photography. I think of cookbooks as such beautiful creations; I adore flipping through a beautiful book with gorgeous food photography and mouth-watering recipes. As you may know (from watching the show), the Neelys have the mouth-watering recipes perfected. However, I didn't find the layout of the book or the photography very interesting or noteworthy. It seemed a bit "same old same old" with nothing unique to it.

While the Neelys' recipes are divine, I don't really see the need to buy this cookbook. Many of the recipes are available on TV or through food network's website. The only reason to buy the book would be for its aesthetic value. Unfortunately, the book looks fairly bland and I don't find it worth the asking price.

I love the Neelys and I sincerely hope that their next cookbook is able to match their wonderfully colorful and charming personalities. They are a pleasure to watch and, hopefully, their next cookbook will be a pleasure to look through.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I tried Grandma Jean's potato salad and it was delicious. My children even enjoyed it. I was thoroughly surprised. That was my first time fixing potato salad with the red potatoes. I will be ordering the second cook book soon!
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