I have many books of recipes, especially of the Cajun and Creole variety. Many contain pretty much just ingredient lists with the preparation instructions. Pretty straight forward stuff. Last year I met Chef Donald Link at his third New Orleans' restaurant Butcher. Friendly and interesting we chatted for a moment about the cruise ships, the effect of the recession, and his new upcoming book.
I waited for his book "Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking From Donald Link's Louisiana" for a month or so and finally ordered my copy online. While I was awaiting it's delivery, I saw it in the local bookstore. I could not resist checking the book out. Let me tell you, this is one of the most in-depth cookbooks I have ever seen. Not just recipes, but life stories about a young man's growing up years in Louisiana.
I really enjoyed all the anecdotes about his grandparents and their food. His grandmothers' kitchens and how he learned to fish on all the waters around his home from his grandfather. Every food seems to illicit a different memory for the Chef. When he smells a certain smell or tastes something familiar he tells you about where it took him in his recollections. Unlike most Chefs of his stature, he really seems to be enjoying writing his first cookbook. Such detail helps the reader imagine the kitchens, backyards, bayous, and camps he visited while growing up Cajun in South Louisiana.
While he adds a few twists to some of his recipes, most all these are pure and simply Cajun, with the occasional Creole dish. He talks lovingly about his obsession and love of the hog, the porcine romance that burns within his heart. Be it his grandmother's Smothered Pork Roast, his preoccupation for boudin, or his sinful lust for pork cracklins. Unlike most cooks, he makes not excuses for sneaking in some pork fat into his wonderful meals, he practically celebrates it. It's a wonder he's not hundreds of pounds overweight, were it not for the amount of work it takes to operate 3 restaurants and a private dining room. Chef Link is a busy man.
You really need to buy this book. It has many wonderful recipes to temp you to pull out the old cast iron dutch oven and rub it down with lard. Some of my favorites include the Fried Chicken Gumbo and his Old School Jambalaya. The pages are loaded with beautiful photos which make this my FAVORITE cookbook. When in New Orleans you can visit his restaurants Herbsaint, Cochon, and my favorite, Butcher. Until then, order Chef Link's incredible book by clicking HERE.