Beyond Bacon Book Review / by Alex Boake

For a lot of people pork falls into two categories: Torturous dry pork chops and delicious crispy bacon. However, pork is so much more than that, as Stacy and Matt show in their wonderful new book, Beyond Bacon. It takes the focus off of one part of the animal and shows you how to take each and every part, cook it properly and make it delightful! You can learn how to render your own lard, make porchetta, cure bacon, smoke pork belly, break down a head for head cheese and even make brownies, biscotti and ice cream. Holy pig!

There was much anticipation surrounding the release of this book, and I have to say it's very justified. Beyond Bacon is a complete package looks-wise; from the lovely design work, including the hand-rendered chalk typography and illustrated cover by CJ Hughes, to the yummy food styling (seriously, they make head cheese look DAMN GOOD!), captured by the lovely photography of Aimee Buxton. However, it's not just about looks here: Stacy and Matt walk you through everything you need to know to order your own pastured hog! How to pick the right parts and decipher a cut sheet are essential tools that are included in this book. They show you how to talk the talk and walk the walk in the land of pastured pork goodness. This book could successfully change peoples' perception of pork for the better!

I was overwhelmed by the number of recipes I wanted to try, and managed to select a few to start with. Rendering my own lard was super simple when following the instructions in the book. The Bacon Salted Caramel Sauce was a hit with my family, when drizzled over ice cream-topped 'The Best Brownies'! Plus, I know I'll never again have to suffer a dry pork chop after learning the foolproof cooking technique as described in Stacy and Matt's excellent cookbook.

This delicious photo is courtesy of my sister who blogs over at Sweet Boake, and is an expert at baking and food photography!

Even if you're not interested in ordering a whole pig, this book could still be for you! There's plenty of chops, belly and bacon to tide over less adventurous eaters, PLUS a robust treats section. Hey, once you're hooked on the basics, who knows if you'll be wanting to check out the more adventurous bits pretty soon...hey, it can't be that offal! ; )

In short; if you like pork, and you like cookbooks that are well-designed and thoughtful, you should DEFINITELY order this book!