Cookbook Review: The Hog Book by Jesse Griffiths and Jody Horton
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From shoat to sounder and from boar to butchering, Jesse Griffiths and Jody Horton have done it again. They first collaborated on their successful 2012 cookbook, Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish which set the bar high for wild food cookbooks. The newly released cookbook, The Hog Book is so much more than a cookbook. The Hog Book is an inclusive guide written by a skilled chef and hunter for the consumption of the everyday cook and hunter. Jody Horton’s photos are beautiful and stimulating, the writing is detailed and entertaining, and the recipes are extremely creative and easy to follow.
I am a firm believer that hunters can play a huge role in the demise of wild pigs in North America. The Hog Book may just be the culinary inspiration we all needed to join the fight against these invasive species. Listen to our Podcast Episode 331 where we talk, in depth, with Jesse about The Hog Book and so many other aspects of wild food.
The entire book is laid out thoughtfully and succinctly. Jesse opens up his “Essentials” section with a note on hog size. “The biggest disservice ever paid to the eating of feral hogs was the grouping of all of these different sizes and sexes together into one seemingly inedible category.” Each recipe identifies which hog type will best suit the recipe.
The chapters are organized by pig size and progress from a piglet on up to a large boar, and there is even a recipe index organized by hog size. Each chapter offers up a skill in pig hunting as well as the appropriate butchering guide for the mentioned hog. In the large sow section, the recipes begin to divide into specific cuts of meat ranging from St. Louis style ribs, to pancetta, and even using the fat.
The field guides are equally fantastic. Jesse details various methods on skinning, gutting, cooling, and field dressing. Rather than using professional cuts and terminology, he approaches his guides with the layman in mind, often referring to anatomy by a common name like wrist, ankle, legs, and armpits. Additionally, Jesse’s cleaver-and-rubber-mallet technique, demonstrated throughout the book, is a solid, precise alternative to a bone saw which often leaves fragments of bone or bone dust in the meat.
Many of the recipes are influenced by the collision of Mexican, German, American, and Texan cultures which are present in Jesse’s hometown of Austin, TX. Anyone can find several, if not many, recipes they adore in the pages of this book. There are so many delicious-looking photographs and recipes to choose from, but the Hog Wings, Torta Milanesa, and the Pon Haus are several personal favorites.
Jesse closes out the book by providing detailed sections on sausage making, grinding pork, smoking, curing, storage, and utilizing the offal. The breadth and detail of this book make it perfect for any hog hunter, expert or novice alike. If you love wild hog meat or are looking to try it, then this book should definitely find its way to your kitchen. You can purchase the book directly from The Hog Book website in either a signed or unsigned version.
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