Specializing in southern cooking, The Country Cat Dinner House and Bar has just released its first cookbook, Heartlandia: Heritage Recipes from Portland's The Country Cat. And that means owners Adam and Jackie Sappington are finally ready to answer the questions their customers have been asking for years: How do you make your fried chicken? What goes into your pimento cheese? And why exactly is ranch dressing one of the most important ingredients on earth?
Written with help from Portland writer Ashley Gartland, Heartlandia also tells the stories behind The Country Cat's dishes. For instance, the Sappingtons' Skillet-Fried Chicken is based on a recipe by Adam's "granny Cris," who used to give her fried chicken as a gift to prisoners by passing it through the bars of a prison window.
Chef Sappington also brings whole-hog cooking to the home cook:
The pig is the one beast that has helped me share my "use everything, waste nothing" philosophy with the masses because it’s approachable in every way. All my favorite parts go into a plate we call The Whole Hog.
When I get a pig on the butcher’s block, I think about how it moved through its day when it was alive, and consider the purpose and function of each of its muscle groups. I feel it’s my duty as a chef to understand everything that the animal provided to us in order to cook it with integrity and respect and bring out the best flavor and texture in each cut.
Here are some of the photos from Heartlandia that show how to break down the whole hog:
Heartlandia: Heritage Recipes from Portland's The Country Cat, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hits shelves today, September 1. Order a copy here.
Recipes and Photos from HEARTLANDIA by Adam and Jackie Sappington. Copyright © 2015 by Adam Sappington and Jackie Sappington. Photography © 2015 by John Valls. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.