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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Southern cooking has taken a beating in recent years. Instant grits, canned biscuits, steam-table succotash, and the fear of fat have conspired to diminish its luster. Still, there are still plenty of cooks who want to taste a rich Creole gumbo, smell a butter-sweet biscuit as it comes out of the oven, and linger over the smoke and spice in a mouthful of slow-cooked, fork-tender barbecue. If you count yourself in that happy crowd, this book is for you.
Although Damon Lee Fowler's first book focused on the history and traditions of southern recipes, this very personal cookbook puts 100 percent of his attention on delivering authentic flavor, with or without classic southern methods.
Historically, southern cooking is a complicated mélange, equally influenced by Native Americans, the Europeans who came to the New World, and the enslaved Africans who worked in the fields and the kitchens. Fowler thinks one of Marcella Hazan's most famous remarks ("The first useful thing to know about Italian thinking is that, as such, it actually doesn't exist") also can be applied to southern cooking. There is no single way to cook the perfect gumbo, southern fried chicken, or pecan pie but many variations incorporating hundreds of years of cooking.
Fowler starts with the pantry, giving recipes for a Homemade Bourbon Vanilla, a Peach-Orange Marmalade, and even a Ham Broth that infuses flavor without extra fat. There's advice for dealing with country hams and rendering lard, and some thoughtful advice about the techniques of prepping vegetables.
Among the book's160 recipes are such delicious standouts as Baked Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese with Warm Peach Chutney, Asparagus Shortcake, Classic Southern Deviled Eggs, Shrimp and Green Tomato Gumbo, Bourbon Pound Cake or Sweet Potato Ice Cream. Fowler's Sunday dinner menu features Sunday Pot Roast with Rosemary and Onions, Carolina-Style Rice, Slow-Cooked Pole Beans with Parmesan, Summer Squash Casserole, Tomato and Vidalia Onion Salad, and Shortbread Banana Pudding.
An appendix lists hard-to-find sources for regional foods like grits, country hams, and fresh pecans. (Ginger Curwen)