In this series, food writer, wine lover and cookbook obsessive Kristin Donnelly test drives the most fun and inspiring new books that come across her desk.
The Book: Collards and Carbonara, by Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman
Target Audience: Fans of these Memphis chefs, and home cooks who love lusty Italian and Southern food and want to take it to the next level. Fresh pasta freaks.
Fun Projects: Fried green tomatoes with blue crab and bacon jam; carrot-top strozzapreti with white rabbit ragù (inspired by rabbits eating carrots); cannoli
Simplest Recipes: Grilled vegetable salad with brown butter vinaigrette; chicken cacciatore; spaghetti squash marinara
You’ve got to love a book that starts out with a beef heart tartare and salt-cured egg yolk. While so many cookbooks this year are celebrating vegetables, F&W Best New Chefs 2013 Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman’s Collards and Carbonara is unabashedly meaty. Just as they do at their Memphis restaurants—Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog & Hominy—the chefs deftly mash up their Southern upbringing with their Italian heritage and training, sharing recipes like boiled peanut ravioli with chicken liver fonduta and pecorino sformato (like a soufflé) with a rich neck bone gravy.
Although they don’t say so explicitly, a lot of the recipes are for adventurous home cooks who would like a project. But if you approach the projects their way—with family members sitting around the table helping, say, roll out and stuff ravioli—they’re actually a lot of fun. The dishes often rely on sub-recipes, like roasted garlic or confit tomatoes, from the pantry chapter of the book, which could annoy some home cooks. But this chapter actually contains a lot of gems worth flagging, including nine pasta doughs, nine stocks and broths, and, no surprise, a salami ragù.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and co-founder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.