Interview with Morgan Murphy, Author of Bourbon & Bacon
Let's get this week off to the right start with two of the South's favorite flavors, and Southern Living's new cookbook Bourbon & Bacon!
This book, by Morgan Murphy, is packed with any bourbon or bacon recipe you could ever want or need. Popsicles with bourbon and bacon in them? There's a recipe for that in this book. Any bourbon cocktail your heart desires? Morgan Murphy's got you covered. A pie with a lattice crust made of bacon? That's in the book too. The recipes in this cookbook span just about every dinner course: drinks, appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. Honestly, there are several recipes I didn't even know I needed to make until I saw them right there on the pages.
So, today we're bringing you an interview with the bourbon and bacon master himself. Get your glasses and skillets ready! You're going to be hungry. And make sure to continue scrolling after the interview because we've got an exclusive recipe from the book as well. Pecan pie lovers, you don't want to miss it!
1. First off—we know they’re tasty, but why bourbon and bacon?
Bourbon and baon share smoky southern flavor, they both are amazing craft products, and they are both addictive. There have been many a morning, when eating the last piece of crunchy, salty bacon that I've thought, "Maybe I should stop... nah." And that's the kind of book I wanted to write: one that you didn't need but one that once you pick it up, can't live without.
2. For this book, did you visit distilleries and farms to learn about the process behind everyone’s favorite drink and meat?
I drove 10,000 miles to hog farms, distilleries, boutique bacon makers, and great Southern restaurants. I interviewed master distillers, barrel makers, belly salters, and all manner of people, from bourbon barons to lowly field hands. And I have to say: I loved every minute of it. I adore talking to people, learning their story, seeing how they do their jobs, and discovering the great craftsmanship that takes place in America, everyday.
3. This book includes the Bourbon Drinker’s Guide. How many different kinds of bourbon did you have to taste for this section?
I have tasted hundreds of bourbons over the course of researching this book, from cheap frat-boy bourbons that you might serve before a football game to the $1,500 bottled stuff that is regularly auctioned at fancy black-tie events. I'm the only man in America who can deduct his bar tab from his taxes.
4. This book also includes the Bacon Lover’s Guide. Same question!
When you visit a farm, meet the pigs, see how their raised, and STILL want to eat the bacon, you know it's a special operation. The pig farms I visited treat their animals humanely, raise them with care, feed them a gourmand's diet, and then make the bacon. You may think, well that's some writer fawning over animal welfare but you can't really taste the difference. Oh yes you can. The difference between a dry cured bacon and a wet cured bacon is astounding. I give many, many bacon recommendations in the book and encourage my readers to try them--you'll never go back to mass-market bacon again. Well, unless you're at a buffet and it's free.
5. How many recipes are in Bourbon & Bacon? Was it easy or difficult to create/find that many recipes featuring those ingredients?
There are 115 recipes in the book and I could have packed it with another 250, but wanted to pick the very best. These are my favorite recipes from my own kitchen, as well as the archives of Southern Living, and many of my favorite friends and chefs across the South. I'm so proud of the result: I really don't think you'll find a dud.
6. Does the book have anything else besides recipes?
It's not just a cookbook. Bourbon & Bacon is a high-proof adventure through how to make both products, the history of each, quotes and toasts on bourbon and bacon, and a guide to buying both. There are stories throughout that I hope readers will enjoy. I told my editor that the book is my favorite thing I've ever written and closest to how I write. I hope readers will find it to be like sitting down and having a conversation with me. I wanted the style to be informative, useful, but not stuffy or pretentious.
7. If you could only make five recipes from this book, which recipes would you choose?
My eggnog (titled the "Commander's Eggnog," because, after all, I'm a Navy commander), the bourbon balls, the pecan pie, the Southern Peach cocktail, and molto bene BLT.
And now, for Morgan's favorite pecan pie, which of course, isn't just any regular pecan pie.
Mr. Knight’s Bourbon Pecan Pie
Makes: 6 to 8 servingsHands-on: 20 min.Total: 3 hr., 50 min.
Ingredients:1/2 cup butter3 large eggs1 cup dark corn syrup1/2 cup granulated sugar1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar1 tsp. fresh lemon juice1 tsp. vanilla extract1/2 tsp. table salt1/4 cup bourbon1 cup finely chopped pecans1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans1 (9-inch) frozen unbaked deep-dish piecrust shell, thawed1 cup pecan halves
Directions:1. Preheat oven to 425°.2. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat, swirling pan occasionally, about 2 minutes. Butter should foam and bubble and turn a light golden brown. Do not allow butter to burn. Set aside to cool.3. Meanwhile, beat eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Gradually stir in syrup, sugars, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt; beat until smooth.4. Add bourbon, stirring until blended.5. Fold in melted butter until combined. Stir in chopped pecans.6. Pour filling into piecrust, and arrange pecan halves on top.7. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until set. Remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack.