It takes guts to write a cookbook exclusively about pork -- and southern-inspired pork at that -- but James Villas's latest book, Pig: King of the Southern Table does just that and pulls it off expertly. The recipes here run the gamut from indispensible southern standards like fried country ham steaks with red-eye gravy, and a wonderful collection of rib recipes, to old takes on everyone’s new favorite pig part: Bacon!
 
The recipes are pretty straightforward, which is not surprising, given that most have their roots in the rustic cooking of the southern countryside. What sets them apart though is that they are also well laid out, easy to understand, and prefaced by lovely trivia and tidbits, my favorite being: “Why Mississippians have a knack with pigs’ ears, I don’t know -- but some of the best I’ve eaten have been around Jackson and Greenville, and nobody produced crustier ears than my famous friend and neighbor, Craig Claiborne!”

Ok, now how can you not want this book after a line like that? It also has some great basic information on pig parts, southern hams, and barbeque in the introduction. I found a lot to like here and I hope you do, too. If you like a little bit of pork now and then, this is simply a great resource to add to your collection. And if you love southern foods, it should be required reading!

About James Villas

More than 30 years ago, James Villas decided to devote his full attention to his palate and belly, and accepted the offer to be Food and Wine Editor of Town & Country, where he remained for 27 years in that capacity.  In addition to hundreds of feature articles for that magazine, he’s written extensively for Esquire, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Life, The New York Times, and numerous other magazines and newspapers, as well as published 12 cookbooks (including The Bacon Cookbook), three literary books on gastronomy, a memoir, and a novel.