Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes From My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some

Santa's Big Cookbook Bag

by John Currence
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 288 pp., $40

So many years have passed since I made the long trek to Oxford, Miss., for a Southern Foodways Symposium and was rewarded with a stellar meal at John Currence's City Grocery restaurant. Currence has made quite a name for himself in the intervening years, opening more restaurants in Oxford, winning a James Beard Award as Best Chef in the South, and competing on Top Chef Masters, not to mention publishing a cookbook. As an author, Currence shares his cooking manifesto and then offers up approachable recipes according to the techniques necessary to complete them plus suggestions about the music that should be playing in the background. This new book is so alive with Currence's personality and his musical tastes – in fact, his whole well-honed Southern culinary attitude – it does everything but stand up on the counter, play you a tune, slap you on the back, and put a glass of whiskey in your hand.

While it was necessary for me to forgo testing recipes in the chapter Stirring, Shaking & Muddling, I've got several preparations bookmarked from Chapter 3's Pickling & Canning. I can't wait to try Currence's take on pickled peaches (p.76) and the dill slices (p.78) he developed for a potential burger joint. I'm also intrigued by the dessert recipes in Chapter 10's Baking & Spinning, now that I know many of them were inspired by the chef's tenure under the late Bill Neal's tutelage at Crook's Corner in North Carolina, as well as the flavors of his native New Orleans; pork fat beignets with bourbon caramel (p.247) or bananas Foster bread pudding with brown sugar rum sauce (p.229), anyone? Chef Currence, it's so good to hear from you. I've obviously stayed away from Oxpatch too long.

Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

If you want to submit a recipe, send it to food@austinchronicle.com

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

MORE cookbooks
More Cookbooks for Under the Tree
Vegan Cookbooks

Melanie Haupt, Dec. 6, 2013

More Cookbooks for Under the Tree
A Scent of Champagne: 8,000 Champagnes Tasted and Rated

Wes Marshall, Dec. 6, 2013

More Food Reviews
A Trio of Mediterranean Dining
A Trio of Mediterranean Dining
Just when you thought you couldn't possibly get any shawarma, right?

Wayne Alan Brenner, Sept. 4, 2020

Hot Sauce: Your Lifestyle Is the Target
Hot Sauce: Your Lifestyle Is the Target
What does your favorite condiment reveal about who you are?

Wayne Alan Brenner, Aug. 28, 2020

More by Virginia B. Wood
Top 10 Savory Bites
Top 10 Savory Bites

Jan. 1, 2016

Open Secret
Open Secret
The not-so-hidden pleasures of dine

Dec. 25, 2015


Gift Guide 2013

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle