Fred Thompson's Southern Sides

October 01, 2012
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Fred Thompson's Summer Sides

250 Dishes That Really Make the Plate By Fred Thompson

My cookbook library was once a collection of every pretty book I could put my hands on. After decades of amassing books that ended up dusty on a shelf (make that many, many shelves), I have become more selective. With rare exception, I turn again to authors whose work I trust. I want to know they’ve researched, tested, and toiled over the recipes they want me to cook.

With his new book, Southern Sides, I have a bit of an advantage. I know Fred and talk to him regularly. I have been privy to stories of recipe challenges and his excitement at tweaks that made a recipe go from tolerable to extraordinary, and through this, I’ve learned how much Fred knows about food.

With ten cookbooks to his credit, a culinary degree, and years of food writing and photo-styling experience, Fred is the real deal. He’s genuine, non-pretentious, and loves a great tomato sandwich as much as a six-course, white-tablecloth dinner. He just wants food to taste good and for everyone to enjoy it.

Fred is big on local, fresh, and doable food. The 250 recipes in this book are applicable for holidays, potlucks, or nightly home dinners. You might never need another cookbook to keep weekday meals interesting. From perfect mashed potatoes to roasted delicata squash, asparagus tarts to twisted tomato aspic, swamp cabbage to pea cakes, you’ll see new takes on favorites and dishes you couldn’t have imagined.

We’re already planning to replace our boring Thanksgiving sweet potatoes with Fred’s twice-baked sweet potatoes with sage, sorghum, and black walnuts. As okra lovers, we can’t wait to try the okra fritters recipe. Who better than the man who wrote Bourbon to create a recipe for bourbon-creamed corn? There are four slaw recipes to try and lots of recipes with potatoes, tomatoes, squash, leeks, and, well, you know, everything under the sun.

I’m not sure about the Pretzel Salad. It sounds weird, but heck, if Fred says I need to try “this textural mismatch,” what can it hurt?

The key here is to trust Fred. He’s not out to show you what he knows; he wants to share what he knows. With Southern Sides, he’s going to make your table the place to be.

— MP

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