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John Currence is a busy man. Born in New Orleans, he eventually migrated to Oxford, Mississippi, a town of 21,000 people in the rural northern end of Mississippi. In that rather small town, John has 6 restaurants. He feeds the town and then the hordes of people from around the nation who come to sample his fare. Oxford is a culinary Mecca.

With all his spare time, John writes wonderful cookbooks and he pens them in his own irreverent style. The language, as well as the recipes, is peppery. If you have a copy of his 2012 Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups, then you probably have just left it out on your kitchen island. It’s that kind of useful book, one you constantly want to dabble from. Try the Bloody Mary.

And now we have Big Bad Breakfast: The Most Important Book of the Day. This book will stay on your kitchen island, too.

Okay, how often do you make breakfast? Honestly. Going to Starbuck is NOT making breakfast. A toaster waffle is food, but it is not breakfast.

Suzi and I have a cooking school in NYC that keeps us going from 8AM to 10PM. We don’t do breakfast Monday-Friday. But weekends? Ah, just like you, that’s when we do breakfast. And that’s the target for Big Bad Breakfast. Those days when you have some time, some cravings, and a pantry with some ingredients at the ready.

Southern food has a reputation for not always being ideally healthy. Battered, fried, sweetened. Yeah, that happens and, yeah, there are some recipes like that here. There is fried chicken wedged in a buttermilk biscuit with scrambled egg, cheese, and hot sauce. My attitude towards dishes like this is simple: if you eat it every day, you might provoke a comment from you doctor about cholesterol level, but doing this once a month is surely no sin. And it surely is a morning pleasure that will make your day much, much happier.

Now, Big, Bad Breakfast has plenty of recipes for the other Saturdays and Sundays in the month when we do actually prepare a real breakfast. And there are recipes here that even my doctor would bless:

Homemade Vanilla and Double Almond Granola

Cinnamon and Citrus Oatmeal with Dried Mission Figs

Bruleed Grapefruit

Roasted Tomato Cobbler

There are chapters here for all your normal breakfast companions:

  • Breads
  • Eggs, Pancakes, Waffles and Crepe
  • Cereals, Grains, and Other Pseudo-Virtuous Things
  • Sides and Condiments [gravies galore!]
  • Breakfast Sandwiches

Embedded in those chapters are complicated things, like a Breakfast Croque Monsieur complete with two sauces, both ham and bacon, and sweet cole slaw. And the chapters have devilishly easy thing: Pepper Honey made by heating honey with black pepper and mixing to let the heat and sweat merge. Use the honey on biscuits and pancakes and pork and duck and… Whatever.

The key chapter in the book, clearly John’s favorite, is Omelets and Frittatas. Here his New Orleans heritage merges with the seafoods and grains and game of the Greater South. You will find French-style food on one page and South Carolina Low Country on another. And that South Carolina food is a match for Paris. Tomorrow I’ll post the Low Country Cast Iron Skillet Scramble: scramble eggs with chorizo, corn, garlic, shrimp, potato hash, and green onions.

There’s a chapter here too for Breakfast for Dinner. Dishes like Sautéed Trout with Soft Scrambled Eggs and Chanterelle Mushrooms. And Pork Tenderloin with Crabmeat and Pecan Butter.

The recipe ideas I have mentioned here are typical: rich dishes with multiple layers of color and flavor. They are deep and dense. This is anything but fast food. It’s not your typical breakfast at all. But it is very Big and very Bad and very delicious. If you can’t get to Oxford, then get to Barnes and Noble.