Folks could be forgiven for mistaking cookbook author Jean Anderson’s latest book for a volume on baking. Considering Southerners’ love of desserts, it’s an understandable assumption given the title, “From a Southern Oven.”
But Anderson, who grew up in Raleigh and now lives in Chapel Hill, will quickly point out the book’s subtitle: “The Savories, The Sweets.”
It was the oven-bound savory dishes that struck Anderson while researching an earlier book, “A Love Affair with Southern Cooking,” which won one of her many James Beard awards. Anderson found that Southerners were oven-frying, braising or baking chicken, shrimp, cabbage, Vidalia onions and much more. She shares their recipes for breads, appetizers, scalloped vegetables, casseroles and other savory treats.
“Everything we pull out of the oven is not achingly sweet,” Anderson said.
That’s not to say the book, published this month, doesn’t include desserts. It does. The recipes for muscadine clafoutis and Ruby Red chess pie, made with zest and juice from the grapefruit by the same name, are intriguing.
Equally intriguing are the dishes Anderson uncovered that she had never heard of before – no small feat since she has written more than 20 cookbooks. There was Blind Hare, a meatloaf made with pork, beef and ham; Colonial Chicken Pudding, chicken pieces baked in a sauce made with broth, eggs and heavy cream; and Coca-Cola-marinated beef brisket called Atlanta brisket.
That’s a part of her work as a cookbook author that Anderson truly enjoys: “I love to excavate old Southern recipes that need to be rediscovered.”
She hopes that with this book, these recipes will be rediscovered at our Southern tables.