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Pig: King of the Southern Table Hardcover – April 26, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. If pig is indeed king, then there is trouble at the castle, for Villas (Dancing in the Lowcountry) has stormed the gates and had at him, leaving no sweetbread, shoulder, or chop untasted. So let the commoners rejoice: here are 300 recipes from Southern hog heaven that are juicy, flirtatious, and, at times, scary. Brave hearts will want to immediately dive into the Variety and Special Meats chapter for some deviled pork liver; hog's head stew; and brains and eggs. The upper crust might prefer a pork pie. Choices include spicy Tennessee sausage; Pork, Apple and Raisin; or Bacon and Corn. A section on barbecue and ribs includes both North and South Carolina styles of BBQ and half a dozen sparerib options. And where lesser authors might stray off-topic when moving to side dishes, Villas, with 13 cookbooks and two James Beard awards under his belt, knows better. All 39 vegetable and rice dishes are chock full of oink, from the mushy turnips with bacon and pork to the slab bacon hoppin' John. Similarly, there are 20 breads that are decidedly not fat-free. That other Southern king, Elvis, would surely have appreciated the bacon-peanut butter muffins, perhaps chased down with a lard hoecake or some bacon-grease hush puppies. (May)
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"Pig is so good you can taste it. Villas brings all of his expertise and passion into this wide-ranging, highly readable discourse on the lordly staple of Southern cookery." -John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil "No one is more qualified to write about the 'King of the Southern Table' than the King of Southern Cooking himself, James Villas. The book is loaded with mouthwatering recipes and does double duty as an anthropological text-Villas shows us that the many different Southern tribes have different uses for the mighty pig. So it is that we are given North Carolina Eastern-Style Chopped or Pulled 'Cue, Lowcountry Chicken and Ham Perloo, and dozens of dishes in between, including Tennessee Sausage Spoon Bread and Bill Neal's Braised Pork Chops with Limas and Whole Garlic I'm dying to try. With Pig, the noble Villas has given us his usual definitive work." -Julia Reed, author of Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties and The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story "What a book! A Southerner weaned on pork, a connoisseur of 'cue and country ham, of sausage, souse, and scrapple as well as all the fresh cuts, Jim Villas knows the 'King of the Southern Table' better than anyone. He writes with passion and authority, tells you exactly what you need to know about pork, then dishes up a juicy everything-but-the-squeal collection of recipes-some homespun, some high-on-the-hog, and many as easy as one, two, three. If you like pork, you'll love Pig. And that's a promise." -Jean Anderson , author of A Love Affair with Southern Cooking
Ham Croquettes with Parsley Sauce
Makes 6 servings
I am still on the bandwagon to restore all croquettes (meat, poultry, and seafood) to the prominent role they once played in every country-club dining room and department-store restaurant in the South, and none do I relish more than those made with some form of ham and served with a mustard, tomato, or cream sauce, or with this subtle parsley sauce. In truth, a well-made, carefully fried ham croquette is delicious just by itself (either as an appetizer or main course), and for ideal texture, I remain convinced that the mixture for these croquettes should be chilled overnight before being formed into patties. As with all croquettes, feel free to experiment with different secondary ingredients (olives, capers, bell peppers, and so on).
For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
For the Croquettes:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
3 scallions (white parts only), finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for dredging
1 cup milk
4 cups coarsely chopped cooked ham
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
2 cups fine dry bread crumbs
Peanut oil for frying
1. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, add the flour, and stir till a smooth paste forms. Gradually add the milk, stirring till thickened and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and parsley, stir till well blended, and keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
2. To make the croquettes, melt the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat, add the scallions and flour, and whisk till soft and well blended, about 2 minutes. Whisking rapidly, add the milk till well blended; add the ham, stir well, and remove from the heat. Whisking rapidly, add the egg yolks, return to the heat, add the mustard, sage, and salt and pepper, and whisk till well blended. Scrape the mixture into a dish, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
3. With your hands, divide the mixture into 6 balls and roll lightly in the extra flour. Pat the balls into smooth oval patties, dip briefly into the egg wash, dredge in the bread crumbs, and place on a plate till ready to fry.
4. In a large, heavy skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil over moderately high heat for about 1 minute, fry the patties till golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side, and drain briefly on paper towels. Serve the croquettes with the parsley sauce on the side.
Top customer reviews
It's been said that in the South every part of the pig except the squeal is used. As I read my way through PIG, I about halfway expected Villas to show us a recipe using the squeal.
This is an exeptional book. You know when you buy a cookbook by James Villas that every recipe has been tested and works. You know Villas wrote every word himself....not a given in these days of ghost written celebrity cook books. Villas is a masterful writer. His directions are clear and thorough. The book is beautiful.
James Villas is a native of North Carolina. He still comes back home on a regular basis to stock up on Southern products. If I had to nominate just 2 cook book writers for my Southern hall of fame, they would be Jean Anderson (LOVE AFFAIR WITH SOUTHERN COOKING, another North Carolina native who had the good sense to move back home from NYC, and James Villas. We're still working on him.
PIG is a must buy for anybody with a love for pork and the food of the South.