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Beyond Bacon, Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog, Book Review

It’s not often that I get a cookbook and read cover to cover and truly enjoy every bit. It’s only happened twice before with “Mad About Macarons” and “Macarons” by Pierre Herme, both of which fueled my passion for macaron creation even more than it already was.

With Beyond Bacon, Paleo Recipes That Respect the Whole Hog, I stayed late into the night reading every single page from front to back! And I’m not kidding.

It is so much more than just a cookbook!

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By the end of my reading, I had learned a few new things I ignored about this beautiful animal, the hog, was thoroughly impressed by Stacy and Matt’s eloquent style, was salivating from all the mouth-watering photography, and had selected  something like 10 recipes to try immediately… I know eventually I will be trying almost all of them, if not all….granted I may not be making my own sausages until I find the time, but I can make patties out of the same recipes. And I’m totally intrigued about making head cheese at home…

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Reading Beyond Bacon has brought me back to my Spanish roots, when I lived in Spain and where we eat everything of the pork, from the snout and brains to the tail. In fact, we have a saying, which goes: “del cerdo, hasta los andares son bonitos,” meaning “of the pork, even the way it walks is nice”.

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Stacy and Matt, the authors of the Paleo Parents blog and Eat Like a Dinosaur (A Recipe and Guidebook for Gluten-free Kids), dedicate this book to the entire animal, from understanding how important it is that the hogs live and grow in a humane environment and  how that affects the quality of their lives and their meat, to rendering your own lard, making your own cracklings (something I’ve eaten so much of as a child when my great-uncle Benitez used to go to the market to buy them as something very special and sort of “forbidden” – back then everyone thought that eating animal fat was unhealthy and bad for our cholesterol levels; if only my dear uncle would be alive today, he would be so happy to know he doesn’t have to sneak around to eat these anymore. And even better yet, we can make them at home!), to explaining the health benefits of eating pork, dispelling the myths around the “risks” of consuming pork products, clarifying how to purchase the whole hog and recommending how to communicate with your butcher to get the right cuts for your needs, to beautifully presented, photographed and easy-to-follow recipes that include savoury dishes and sweet “thangs” that will intrigue and inspire you.

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The book is more than a book with recipes; it’s a well-written, well-researched, respectful praise to this animal, this omnivore, which has been domesticated since Neolithic times and is perfectly in balance (when raised humanely) with its environment both for us, its predators, and for the plants and animals lower than it on the food chain.

I was thoroughly captivated by the history and health lessons, which capture all of the important facts, yet are short and concise and do not bore or overwhelm.

And yes… drum roll…the recipe section is brilliant! Stacy and Matt cover everything from the basics, breakfast, mains, sides to of course desserts.

The first recipe that captured my eye was Schweinehaxe, a dish that we’ve had many times in Germany and with which I hadn’t thought of experimenting at home… now I will!  And then there’s Piggy Pot Pies made with Homestyle Biscuits, Savory Bacon Jam, Salted Caramel Bacon Sauce, Lard Pie Crust, Dutch Apple Pie, Salted Mocha Biscotti… just to name a few that look and sound so decadent that you cannot believe they are actually Paleo and healthy for you!

And oh, there are even two recipes for ice cream, one with bacon and another with prosciutto…the thought of that is just insanely tempting…

The book is simply a work of art, beautiful from the front cover to the back. Its rustic look is elegant and inviting for the foodie in all of us. In fact, I was showing the book to my niece and mom over Facetime and both praised how artistic it is, yet easy to follow. It’s definitely something to rave about and show off to visitors of my kitchen. 😉

I  know it’s going to be one of my favourite go-to Paleo books from now on…

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Beyond Bacon, Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog, however I was under no obligation to do a review. All of the comments above are my personal opinion and I have not been influenced by anyone or anything. I would, nonetheless, like to thank both Stacy and Matt for depositing their confidence in my opinion as a fellow Paleo blogger and partake in this review. Additionally, if you use the links above to purchase a copy of this book, I will receive a small commission from Amazon, at no additional cost to you.

All photos are from Beyond Bacon and used with permission from Paleo Parents.

Puchero, Spanish Bone Broth & Egg Drop Soup

Growing up, I used to hate eating puchero or bone broth soup. I found it dull and boring, except for its slightly more special version as “sopa de picadillo”, which is with bits of jamon serrano, diced hard-boiled eggs, rice and maybe a tomato.

Later when we would go on the yearly El Rocio pilgrimage, for some odd reason, I loved a hot cup of “caldo” (broth) especially in the early mornings before eating breakfast. It was always chilly out as we started our journey each day around dawn and there was usually no time to eat a proper breakfast before the entire hermandad (brotherhood) would get the horses, mules and carriages ready for the camino (road). Caldo is something we have around all day during El Rocio pilgrimage, drinking a cup or glass at any time. It actually “does a body good” and as the Spaniards say is a “reconstituyente”, providing strength and adding needed protein, gelatin, salts and warmth.

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Of course, back then I didn’t realise the goodness in each cup of puchero/caldo/bone broth as I do today. Now I not only appreciate it, but make it frequently to drink alone, use as the base for a soup or for the dough of Spanish croquetas. As soon as you eat a few spoonfuls, you start to feel the energy pumping into your body! 😉

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The recipe I’m sharing with you today is simple. And you can alter it depending on the bones you have available or want to use. I particularly like using jamon serrano bones or pork bones with chicken meat and bones. It makes for a clear broth that is very tasty. But you can substitute for beef, lamb or a combination of all. It’s up to you. I also added two knobs of kelp seaweed to add iodine to the soup. It’s important to get enough iodine in our diets to ensure proper thyroid function. As we are using more and more sea salt or Himalayan rock salt in Paleo cooking, we are not always getting enough iodine as when we used iodized table salt.

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Jamon serrano bones provide a special flavour; however, if you don’t have access to jamon serrano, you could try asking in a specialty shop if they’ll sell you the bones after the jamon is done. Or if you’re up to it, give a good jamon serrano a try, by buying the whole leg and eating it at home like Spaniards do!

A good brand to buy is 5J’s; it can be more expensive, but the quality has never disappointed us. It’s so deliciously balanced, almost sweet to the palate and melts in your mouth. Ahhh.. I think it’s time to buy another one again in Spain! 😉

Jamon Serrano can be made with the back legs (jamon) or front legs (paleta/paletilla) of white pigs or the Black Iberian pig, which is an endemic species from southern Spain and Portugal. The best jamon comes from the Black Iberian pigs, especially if it’s fed only acorns. I recommend giving this one a try!

The cooking times for puchero/bone broth can vary. I let mine simmer about 6 hours on the first day and then another 4 hours on the second day. You don’t need to do that; but if you do, you must keep adding water, as it evaporates, and adjust for salt. You can also make the broth in a few hours and use the same day. But the longer you simmer, the more intense flavour and the more nutrients you will get out of the bones and ingredients.

Buen Provecho.

Puchero, Spanish Bone Broth & Egg Drop Soup
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 1-2 ham hock or large piece of jamon serrano bone with meat on it
  • 3 chicken breasts or 4-5 pieces of chicken on the bone, whichever you have
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut in halves
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • juice of one lemon (optional)
  • 3-4 carrots, cut into large chunks (no need to peel unless you want to eat them later)
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
  • 2 knobs kelp
  • sea salt, to taste
  • filtered water
  • For the egg drop soup:
  • 1 beaten egg per person
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, place all of the ingredients (except the egg) and add enough water to fill about 3/4 full.
  2. Place over medium heat and bring to a soft boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 6-8 hours, adding water as necessary.
  4. Also remember to skim the ugly fat that comes to the top every once in a while, for a clearer and nicer broth.
  5. You can freeze the broth in small containers to use at a later date or you can immediately drink it, use as a soup or base for another recipe.
  6. Here, I’ve eaten it as an egg drop soup with 1 minced, chicken breast, some carrot pieces and a beaten egg.
  7. For the egg drop:
  8. Bring some of the broth to a boil in a small saucepan.
  9. Beat the egg, and slow pour it into the boiling broth, while stirring with a fork to create the stringy appearance.

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